The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi

By Marschall, Laurence A. | Natural History, June 2006 | Go to article overview

The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi


Marschall, Laurence A., Natural History


The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi by William J. Broad Penguin Press, 2006; $25.95

Long before focus groups and computer modeling came into vogue, a woman (actually a succession of women) known as the Oracle of Delphi was the arbiter of choice for politicians and military planners in ancient Greece. No carnival fortune-teller, she was consulted on important matters of state, from questions of inheritance and taxation to issues of crime, government and war. The Delphic Oracle and her prophecies were extensively documented in classical texts, and so modern scholars have a pretty good idea of who she was and how she did her work.

For nine months of the year, from March through November, the Pythias, a priestess of Apollo, conducted audiences in the temple of the god in 1 )elphi. Seated on a three-legged stool in a holy chamber, she entertained the questions of petitioners. Then, after taking a few breaths of a sweet-smelling gas, or pneuma, which rose from a fissure below her, she would pronounce, normally in verse.

Her words were sage, suggestive, and invariably effective. "Love of money and nothing else will ruin Sparta." she warned, setting the agenda for a Spartan policy of militarism, physical fitness, and frugality. "Sit in the middle of the ship, guiding straight the helmsman's task," she warned Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, directing him toward a policy of moderation and compromise that served his city well.

Yet as Greece declined and the centuries passed, the temple, shrines, and statues of Delphi fell into disrepair-desecrated by Christian zealots, ransacked by armies, tumbled by earthquakes, buried by landslides. By the late nineteenth century, stories of the Oracle had taken on the flavor of legend. Then, in 1892, archaeologists unearthed the remains of Apollo's temple on the hillsides of Mount Parnassus, under the small village of Kastri. As the dig progressed, most of the ancient descriptions were verified: the temple and its inner chamber slowly emerged. Archaeologists even found a marble slab on which the Oracle's seat may have rested, and a rounded stone, called the omphalos ("navel"), which represented Delphi's place at the center of the world. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.