Apollo's oracles gave council here. People would travel from far and wide to consult the oracles before entering into battle or any other major commitment.
The oracles were normally women, who spoke in trance like riddles that were interpreted by the priests.Howard [ Just Imagine ] 31-Dec-2007
Normally cruisers sail in to Itea and take the bus up to Delphi. There is a marina in Itea and no problem to leave the boat. We went there by car from Levkas Marina so that we might visit other places, as the Monastery of Osios Loukas, and revisit Arta and its bridge, that we missed on our trip to Matera last year. The road up from the Corinth fiord is steep, as the Ancient Delphi is up in the mountain side. Before arriving at the Ancient Delphi you reach today's Delphi town, depending entirely on the many tourists coming here. When the ancient Delphi was rediscovered in 1892, part of it lay under a much newer buildings. The government with support from other European nations built a new village for the residents in order to get access.
According to legend, Zeus released 2 eagles, from opposite ends of the world, their paths crossed in the sky above Delphi, which was then declared the centre of the world. Renowned as a dwelling place for the god Apollo, people from all over the "known" world, from the 8th century BC, came to consult the god before taking serious actions as wage war etc.
The god's answers were spoken by Pytia, a priestess, sitting on a tripod in a cave, talking in trance (recently scientist have confirmed gases coming out of the rock in the cave, that will make you short of oxygen and thus creating a kind of trance).
Her answers were then interpreted by a priest. However, the answers tended to be in favour of the strongest power, although mostly the answers could be interpreted several ways. As when King Croesus was told that crossing a certain river he would destroy a great kingdom, that turned out to be his own. There was a fee for those that wanted an advice of Apollo. Thus Delphi became a powerful body. So powerful that the Sacred way, leading up to the impressive temple of Apollo, at that time was lined with more than 3.000 statutes and treasuries.
Above the immense theatre, seating 5.000, lies the stadium. After the Olympic games, also held every 4 years, the Pytian games was the most important sporting events. It was not only athletic competitions, as it included musical and poetry performances. The Roman emperor Nero came her to compete with his singing and playing a lyre. (Nobody dared not to give him a top price.)
As the ancient Delphi was destroyed by earthquakes and covered by stones falling from the mountain side above, later built upon, little pilferage had taken place. In the museum you may today study an impressive collection of statues and architectural remains, like the famous bronze charioteer.
Reprinted from home.online.no/~pernoll/, with permission of Signe and Gaute on s/y PernollHoward [ Just Imagine ] 31-Dec-2007