Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins

Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins

Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins

Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins

Excerpt

Every god has his enemy, whom he must vanquish and destroy. Zeus and Baal, Coyote and Ahura Mazda, Thor and the Lord of Hosts, are alike in this: that each must face a dreadful antagonist. Apollo's enemy was the great dragon Python, whom he had to fight and kill before he could establish his temple and oracle at Delphi. With this myth the present study begins and ends.

Mankind's myths, legends, and folktales are filled with tales of gods and heroes who encounter and defeat dragons, monsters, demons, and giants. So the mere combat is hardly enough to establish a genetic relation between the Apollo-Python myth and any other in which a god fights a dragon. Hence it may seem that the scholar who studies the Python myth has to do no more than find all the literary and monumental sources, distinguish the several versions in which the myth was told, deduce its original form and its provenience, and reveal its relation to Delphic cult. Such a study is valuable and necessary, and part of it has been done. The sources are confined to classical literature and art, and the student seldom has to look beyond those that refer directly to the Python myth and to Delphi.

But if between the Python myth and another myth of combat more points of agreement appear than the combat itself, if the two myths agree fairly well in the antecedents and aftermath of the . . .

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