Map of the Roman Empire -
L-6 on the Map
Ancient Delphi Delphi was a Greek city and the site of the great temple
of Apollo and the famous oracle of Delphi. The city was very religious and a national centre in classical times.
Some of the buildings and structures located at Delphi included: The Temple of
Apollo, the Amphiktyonic Council, Treasuries, The Altar of the Chians, The Stoa
of the Athenians, Athletic statues, A Polygonal wall, A Gymnasium, A Hippodrome,
A Castalian spring, The Stadium, A Theatre, The Tholos, and the Sibyl rock. Many excavations
have gone on there including a part of the wall of the temple of Apollo.
Delphi (Δελφοί). A small but important city of Phocis in Greece,
situated on the southern side of Mount Parnassus and built in the form of an
amphitheatre. Justin (xxiv. 6) says that it had no walls, but was defended by
its precipices. Pausanias (x. 5) calls it πόλις, which seems to imply that it
was walled like other cities. In earlier times it was, perhaps, like Olympia,
defended by the sanctity of its oracle and the presence of its god. These being
found insufficient to afford protection against the enterprises of the profane,
it was probably fortified and became a regular city after the predatory
incursions of the Phocians. The walls may, however, be coeval with the
foundation of the city itself; their high antiquity is not disproved by the use
of mortar in the construction, for some of the Egyptian pyramids are built in a
The more ancient name of Delphi was Pytho, from the serpent Python , as is
commonly supposed, which was said to have been slain by Apollo (Biblioth. i. 4,
3). Whence the name Delphi itself was derived we are not informed. Some make the
city to have received this name from Delphus, a son of Apollo. Others deduce the
appellation from the Greek ἀδελφοί, “brethren,” because Apollo and his brother
Bacchus were both worshipped there, each having one of the summits of Parnassus
sacred to him. The author of the Hymn to Apollo seems to pun on the word Delphi,
in making Apollo transform himself into a dolphin (δελφίς—v. 494). Some supposed
that the name was intended to designate Delphi as the centre or navel of the
A short sketch of the history of this most celebrated oracle and temple will not
be out of place. Though not so ancient as Dodona (q.v.), it is evident that the
fame of the Delphic shrine had been established at a very early period, from the
mention made of it by Homer and the accounts supplied by Pausanias and Strabo.
The Homeric Hymn to Apollo informs us (391 foll.) that, when the Pythian god was
establishing his oracle at Delphi, he beheld on the sea a merchant-ship from
Crete; this he directed to Crissa, and appointed the foreigners the servants of
his newly established sanctuary, near which they settled. When this story is
stripped of the language of poetry, it can only mean that a Cretan colony
founded the temple and oracle of Delphi. Strabo reports that it was at first
consulted only by the neighbouring States; but that after its fame became more
widely spread, foreign princes and nations eagerly sought responses from the
sacred tripod, and loaded the altar of the god with rich presents and costly
offerings (420 B.C.). Pausanias states that the most ancient temple of Apollo at
Delphi was formed, according to some, out of branches of bay, and that these
branches were cut from the tree that was at Tempé. The form of this temple
resembled that of a cottage. After mentioning a second and a third temple—the
one raised, as the Delphians said, by bees from wax and wings, and sent by
Apollo to the Hyperboreans, and the other built of brass—he adds that to this
succeeded a fourth and more stately edifice of stone, erected by two architects
named Trophonius and Agamedes (Pausan. x. 5). Here were deposited the sumptuous
presents of Gyges and Midas, Alyattes and Croesus (Herod.i. 14, Herod. 51), as
well as those of the Sybarites, Spinetae, and Siceliots, each prince and nation
having their separate chapel or treasury for the reception of these offerings,
with an inscription attesting the name of the donor and the cause of the gift.
This temple having been accidentally destroyed by fire in B.C. 548, the
Amphictyons undertook to build another for the sum of three hundred talents, of
which the Delphians were to pay one fourth. The remainder of the amount is said
to have been obtained by contributions from the different cities and nations.
Amasis, king of Egypt, furnished a thousand talents of electrum. The
Alcmaeonidae, a wealthy Athenian family, undertook the contract, and agreed to
construct the edifice of Porine stone, but afterwards liberally substituted
Parian marble for the front, a circumstance which is said to have added
considerably to their influence at Delphi (Herod.ii. 180; v. 62). According to
Strabo and Pausanias, the architect was Spintharus, a Corinthian. The vast
riches accumulated in this temple led Xerxes, after having forced the pass of
Thermopylae, to send a portion of his army into Phocis, with a view of securing
Delphi and its treasures, which, as Herodotus affirms, were better known to him
than the contents of his own palace. The enterprise, however, failed, owing, as
it was reported by the Delphians, to the manifest interposition of the deity,
who terrified the barbarians and hurled destruction on their scattered bands (Herod.viii.
37). Many years subsequent to this event, the temple fell into the hands of the
Phocians, headed by Philomelus, who did not scruple to appropriate its riches to
the payment of his troops in the war he was then waging against Thebes. The
Phocians are said to have plundered the temple during this contest of gold and
silver to the enormous amount of 10,000 talents, or about $11,000,000 (cf.
Pausan. x. 2). At a still later period, Delphi became exposed to a formidable
attack from a large body of Gauls, headed by their king, Brennus. These
barbarians, having forced the defiles of Mount Oeta, possessed themselves of the
temple and ransacked its treasures. The booty which they obtained on this
occasion is stated to have been immense; and this they must have succeeded in
removing to their own country, since we are told that, on the capture of Tolosa,
a city of Gaul, by the Roman general Caepio, a great part of the Delphic spoils
was found there. Pausanias, however, relates that the Gauls met with great
disasters in their attempt on Delphi, and were totally discomfited through the
miraculous intervention of the god (x. 23; cf. Polyb. i. 6, 5; ii. 20, 6). Sulla
is also said to have robbed this temple as well as those of Olympia and
Epidaurus. Strabo assures us that in his time the temple was greatly
impoverished, all the offerings of any value having been successively removed.
The emperor Nero carried off, according to Pausanias (x. 7), five hundred
statues of bronze at one time. Constantine the Great, however, proved a more
fatal enemy to Delphi than either Sulla or Nero. He removed the sacred tripods
to adorn the Hippodrome of his new city, where, together with the Apollo, the
statues of the Heliconian Muses, and a celebrated statue of Pan, they were
extant when Sozomen wrote his history (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xvii.).
Among these tripods was the famous one which the Greeks, after the battle of
Plataea, found in the camp of Mardonius. The Brazen Column which supported this
tripod is still to be seen at Constantinople. See the illustration on p. 386.
The spot whence issued the prophetic vapour which inspired the priestess was
said to be the central point (ὀμφαλός) of the earth, this having been proved by
Zeus himself, who despatched two eagles from opposite quarters of the heavens,
which there encountered each other (Pausan. x. 16). The Omphalos was marked by a
stone in the shape of half an egg. Strabo reports that the golden tripod was
placed over the mouth of the cave, whence proceeded the exhalation, and which
was of great depth. On this sat the Pythia, who, having caught the inspiration,
pronounced her oracles in extempore prose or verse; if the former, it was
immediately versified by the poet always employed for that purpose. The oracle
itself is said to have been discovered by accident. Some goats having strayed to
the mouth of the cavern, were suddenly seized with convulsions; those likewise
by whom they were found in this situation having been affected in a similar
manner, the circumstance was deemed supernatural and the cave pronounced the
seat of prophecy (Pausan. x. 5; De Orac. Def. p. 433). Earthquakes have long
since obliterated the chasm. The priestess could only be consulted on certain
days. The season of inquiry was the spring, during the month Busius (Quaest.
Graec.). Sacrifices and other ceremonies were to be performed by those who
sought an answer from the oracle before they could be admitted into the
The most remarkable of the Pythian responses are those which Herodotus records
as having been delivered to the Athenians before the invasion of Xerxes (vii.
140); to Croesus (i. 47); to Lycurgus (i. 65); to Glaucus the Spartan (vi. 86).
One relative to Agesilaüs is cited by Pausanias (iii. 8). There was, however, as
it appears, no difficulty in bribing and otherwise influencing the Pythia
herself, as history presents us with several instances of this imposture. Thus
we are told that the Alcmaeonidae suggested on one occasion such answers as
accorded with their political designs (Herod.v. 62 Herod., 90). Cleomenes, king
of Sparta, also prevailed on the priestess to aver that his colleague Demaratus
was illegitimate. On the discovery, however, of this machination, the Pythia was
removed from her office (Herod.vi. 66). Delphi derived further celebrity from
its being the place where the Amphictyonic Council held one of their assemblies,
and also from the institution of the games which that body established after the
successful termination of the Crissaean War. See Amphictyones.
The site of Delphi is occupied by the modern hamlet of Kastri. There still exist
at Delphi a part of the wall of the great temple of Apollo with columns and
steps, a fragment of a curious marble sphinx, the “Column of the Naxians” with
an inscription, a small part of the theatre, a carefully constructed tomb,
remains of the Stoa of the Athenians, and some other remnants of the ancient
buildings. For many interesting details regarding Delphi and the oracle, see A.
Mommsen, Delphika (Leipzig, 1878), and Bouché-Leclerq, Histoire de la Divination
dans l'Antiquité, vol. iii. (Paris, 1880); and on the temple, a valuable paper
by Prof. Middleton in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. ix. pp. 282- 322.
See also the article Oraculum. - Harpers Dictionary of
Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.
Map of the Roman Empire (Click to Enlarge)
The Roman Empire During the First Century AD
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
New Testament Israel |
Map of Old Testament Israel
the Roman Empire | Bible
DELPHI (Δελφοί: Eth. Δελφός, fem. Δελφίς, Δελφή; Adj. Δελφικός: Kastri), a town
in Phocis, and one of the most celebrated places in the Hellenic world in
consequence of its oracle of Apollo.
The situation of Delphi is one of the most striking and sublime in all Greece.
It lies in the narrow vale of the Pleistus, which is shut in on one side by
Mount Parnassus, and on the other by Mount Cirphis. At the foot of Parnassus is
a lofty wall of rocks, called Phaedriades in antiquity, and rising 2000 feet
above the level of the sea. This rocky barrier faces the south, and from its
extremity two lower ridges descend towards the Pleistus. The rocky ground
between these two ridges also slopes down towards the river, and in about the
middle of the semicircular recess thus formed lay the town of Delphi, occupying
the central area of a great natural theatre, to which its site is compared by
the ancient writers. (Οἱ Δελφοὶ, πετρῶδες [1.761] χωρίον, θεατροειδὲς, κατὰ
κορνφὴν ἔχων τὸ μαντεῖον καὶ τὴν πόλιν, Strab. ix. p.418; media saxi rupes in
formam theatri recessit, Justin, 24.6.) The northern barrier of the Phaedriades
is cleft towards the middle into two stupendous cliffs, between which issues the
far-famed Castalian spring, which flows down the hill into the Pleistus. The
ancient town lay on both sides of the stream, but the greater part of it on the
left or western bank, on which stands the modern village of Kastrí. Above the
town was the sanctuary of the god, immediately under the Phaedriades.
Delphi was, so to speak, shut in on all sides from the rest of the world, and
could not have been seen by any of the numerous pilgrims who visited it, till
they had crossed one of its rocky barriers, when all its glories burst suddenly
upon their view. On its northern side were the Phaedriades; on its eastern and
western sides, the two lower ridges projecting from the Phaedriades towards the
Pleistus; while on the other side of the river towards the south rose the range
of Mt. Cirphis. Three roads led to Delphi; one from Boeotia,--the celebrated
Schiste,--which passed through the eastern of two ridges mentioned above; and
two others from the west, crossing the only two openings in the western ridge.
Of these two the more northerly led from Amphissa, and the more southerly from
Crissa, the modern Chrysó, which was the one taken by the pilgrims coming from
Cirrha. Traces of the ancient carriage-road from Crissa to Delphi may still be
seen. Delphi was fortified by nature, on the north, east, and west, by the
Phaedriades and the two projecting ridges: it was only undefended on the south.
On this side it was first fortified by a line of walls by Philomelus, who also
erected two fortresses to command its two approaches from the west. The circuit
of the city was only 16 stadia, or a little more than two miles. (Strab. l.c.) A
topographical description of the city is given below.
The Delphian valley, or that part of the vale of the Pleistus lying at the foot
of the town, is mentioned in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (284), under the name of
κοίλη βῆσσα; and is called by Pindar κοιλόπεδον νάπος (Pyth. 5.50), and
Ἀπολλωνία νάπα (Pyth. 6.10), and by Strabo also νάπη (Strab. l.c.).
The town of Delphi owes its origin as well as its importance to the oracle of
Apollo. According to some traditions, it had belonged to other divinities before
it passed into the hands of Apollo. In Aeschylus it is represented as held in
succession by Gaia, Themis, and the Titanian Phoebe, the last of whom gave it to
Phoebus, when he came from Delos. (Eum. 1, seq.) Pausanias says that it was
originally the joint oracle of Poseidon and Ge; that Ge gave her share to Themis,
and Themis to Apollo; and that the latter obtained from Poseidon the other half
by giving him in exchange the island of Calaureia. (Paus. 10.5.. § 6, seq.) The
proper name of the oracle was PYTHO (Πύθω); and in Homer that of Delphi, which
was subsequently the name of the town, does not occur. In the Iliad the temple
of Phoebus Apollo at the rocky Pytho is already filled with treasures (Il.
9.405); and in the catalogue of the ships the inhabitants of Pytho are mentioned
in the same line with those of Cyparissus (Il. 9.405). In the Odyssey Agamemnon
consults the oracle at Pytho (Od. 8.80). It thus appears in the most ancient
times as a sacred spot; but the legend of its foundation is first related in the
Homeric Hymn to Apollo. In this poem Apollo, seeking for a spot where he may
found an oracle, comes at last, to Crissa under Mount Parnassus. He is charmed
with the solitude and sublimity of the place, and forthwith commences the
erection of a temple, which is finished under the superintendence of the two
brothers Trophonius and Agamedes. He then slays the huge serpent which infested
the place; and from the monster rotting (from πύθειν) in the ground, the temple
was called Pytho, and the god the Pythian:--
ἐξ οὗ νῦν Πυθὼ κικλήσεται: οἱ δὲ ἄνακτα
Πύθιον καλέουσιν ἐπώνυμον, οὕνεκα κεῖθι
θὐτοῦ πῦσε πέλωρ μένος ὀξέος ἠελίοιο.
（Hymn. in Apoll. 372.)
The temple now wanted priests; and the god, beholding a Cretan ship sailing from
Cnossus, metamorphosed himself into a dolphin, and brought the vessel into the
Crissaean gulf. Here the Cretans landed, and, conducted by the god, founded the
town of Crissa, and became the priests of the temple. He taught them to worship
him under the name of Apollo Delphinius, because he had met them in the form of
a dolphin (Δελφίς). Müller (Dorians, vol. i. p. 238), and many other writers,
suppose that this temple was really founded by colonists from Crete, and that
the very name Crissa points to a Cretan origin. We, however, are disposed to
think that in this, as in so many other cases, the legend has sprung out of an
attempt to explain the names; and that it was simply the names of Crissa and
Delphi which suggested the story of the Cretan colonists and of the
metamorphosis of the god into the dolphin. It is useless to speculate as to what
is the real origin of the names of Crissa and Pytho. Many writers derive the
latter from πυθέσθαι, “to inquire,” in spite of the difference of the quantity (Πῦθώ,
πυθέσθαι); but the similarity of sound between the two words is probably only
accidental. Whatever may be thought of the origin of the places, the historical
fact worthy of notice is, that Crissa had at first the superintendence of the
sanctuary of Pytho, and continued to claim jurisdiction over it even after the
Amphictyonic Council held its spring meeting at the temple, and began to regard
itself as the guardian of the place. A town gradually sprung up round the
sanctuary, the inhabitants of which claimed to administer the affairs of the
temple independently of the Crissaeans. Meantime Cirrha, which was originally
the sea-port of Crissa, increased at the expense of the latter; and thus Crissa
declined in importance, as Cirrha and Delphi augmented, It is probable that
Crissa had already sunk into insignificance before the Sacred War in B.C. 595,
which ended in the destruction of Cirrha by the order of the Amphictyonic
Council, and in the dedication of the Cirrhaean plain to the town. An account of
this war is given elsewhere [CRISSA]; and it is only necessary to repeat here,
that the spoils of Cirrha were employed by the Amphictyons in founding the
Pythian games, which were henceforwards celebrated under the superintendence of
the council every four years,--in the former half of every third Olympiad. The
first celebration of the Pythian games took place in B.C. 586. The horse races
and foot races were celebrated in the maritime plain near the site of Cirrha.
The hippodrome continued to be in this [1.762] spot down to the latest times (Paus.
10.37.4); but the stadium, which was still in the maritime plain in the time of
Pindar (Pind. P. 11.20, 23), was subsequently removed to the city, where the
musical and poetical matches seem to have been always held.
From the time of the destruction of Cirrha, Delphi was indisputably an
independent state, whatever may have been its political condition before that
time. From this time it appears as the town of Delphi, governed by its own
magistrates. The name of Delphi first occurs in one of the most recent of the
Homeric hymns (27.14.), and in a fragment of Heraclitus. (Plut. de Pyth. Orac.,
100.21, p. 404.) The population of Delphi came from Lycoreia (Λυκώρεια), a town
situated upon one of the heights of Parnassus above the sanctuary. This town is
said to have been founded by Deucalion, and from it the Delphian nobles, at all
events, derived their origin. Hence, Plutarch tells us that the five
chief-priests of the god, called Ὅσιοι, were chosen by lot from a number of
families who derived their descent from Deucalion. (Strab. ix. pp. 418, 423;
Schol. ad Apoll. Rhod. 2.711; Paus. 10.6.2; Plut. Quaest. Graec. 9, p. 380.) The
remains of Lycoreia are found at the village of Liákura. Müller conjectures,
with much probability, that the inhabitants of Lycoreia were Dorians, who had
spread from the Dorian Tetrapolis over the heights of Parnassus. At all events,
we know that a Doric dialect was spoken at Delphi; and the oracle always showed
a leaning towards the Greeks of the Doric race. Moreover, that the Delphians
were of a different race from the Phocians is clear from the antipathy which
always existed between the two peoples.
The government of Delphi appears at first to have been in the exclusive
possession of a few noble families. They had the entire management of the
oracle, and from them were chosen the five Ὅσιοι, or chief-priests of the god,
as is mentioned above. These are the persons whom Euripides describes as
“sitting near the tripod, the Delphian nobles, chosen by lot” (οἳ πλησίον
θάσσουσι τρίποδος . . . . Δελφῶν ἀριστῆς, οὓς ἐκλήρωσεν πάλος, Ion, 415). They
are also called by the poet “the lords and princes of the Delphians,” and formed
a criminal court, which sentenced by the Pythian decision all offenders against
the temple to be hurled from a precipice. (Κοιρανοὶ Πυθικοὶ, 1219; Δελφῶν
ἄνακτες, 1222; Πυθία ψῆφος, 1250; from Müller, Dorians, vol. i. p. 240.) From
the noble families the chief magistrates were chosen, among whom in early times
a king (Plut. Quaest. Graec. 12. p. 383), and afterwards a prytanis, was supreme
(Paus. 10.2.2). We also find in inscriptions mention of archons who gave their
names to the year, of a senate (Βουλή), and in later times of an agora. (Böckh,
Inscr. No. 1687--1724; Müller, Dor. vol. i. p. 192.) The constitution of Delphi
and its general condition offered a striking contrast with what we find in other
Grecian states. Owing not only its prosperity, but even its very existence, to
its oracle, the government was of a theocratic nature. The god possessed large
domains, which were cultivated by the slaves of the temple, who are frequently
mentioned in inscriptions. (Müller, vol. i. p. 283.) In addition to this, the
Delphian citizens received numerous presents from the monarchs and wealthy men
who consulted the oracle, while at the same time the numerous sacrifices offered
by strangers were sufficient for their support. (Comp. Athen. 4.173.) Hence they
became a lazy, ignorant, and sensual people; and their early degeneracy is
implied in the tradition of Aesop's death.
An account of the Delphic oracle, of. the mode in which it was consulted, and of
its influence in Greece, is given in the Dict. of Ant. (art. Oraculum). It only
remains here to trace its history. In the eighth century before the Christian
era its reputation was established, not only throughout Hellas, but even among
the surrounding nations, which sometimes sent solemn embassies to ask the advice
of the god. This wide extension of the influence of the oracle was owing to the
fact that almost all Greek colonies were founded with the sanction, and
frequently by the express command, of the Pythian Apollo; and thus the colonists
carried with them a natural reverence for the patron god of their enterprise.
Gyges, the founder of the last Lydian dynasty, who reigned B.C. 716--678,
presented valuable gifts to the god (Hdt. 1.13, 14); and Croesus, the last
monarch of this race, was one of the greatest benefactors which the god ever
had. His numerous and costly presents are specified at length by Herodotus
(1.50. seq.). The colonies in Magna Graecia also spread among the inhabitants of
Italy a reverence for the Delphic oracle. The Etruscan town of Aylla (Caere) had
at Delphi a thesaurus belonging to their state; and the last king of Rome sent
to consult the oracle.
In B.C. 548 the temple was destroyed by fire (Paus. 10.5.13), when many of its
votive offerings perished or were greatly injured (Hdt. 1.50). The Amphictyons
determined that the temple should be rebuilt on a scale of magnificence
commensurate with the sanctity of the spot. They decreed that one-fourth of the
expense should be borne by the Delphians themselves, and that the remainder
should be collected from the other parts of the Hellenic world. The sum required
for the building was 300 talents, or 115,0001. sterling; and when it was at
length collected, the family of the Alcmaeonidae, then exiles from Athens, took
the contract for the execution of the work. They employed as architect
Spintharus, the Corinthian, and gained great reputation for their liberality in
using Parian marble for the front of the temple in place of. the coarse stone
prescribed in the contract. (Hdt. 2.180, 5.62; Paus. l.c.）
In B.C. 480 Xerxes sent a detachment of his army to plunder the temple. The
Delphians' in alarm sought safety on the heights of Mt. Parnassus, but were
forbidden by the god to remove the treasures from his temple. Only sixty
Delphians remained behind, but they were encouraged by divine portents; and when
the Persians, who came from Phocis by the road Schisté, began to climb the
rugged path leading up to the shrine, and had already reached the temple of
Athena Pronaea, on a sudden thunder was heard to roll, the warshout sounded from
the temple of Athena, and two huge crags rolled down from the mountains, and
crushed many to death. Seized with a sudden panic the Persians turned and fled,
pursued by two warriors of superhuman size, whom the Delphians affirmed were the
two heroes Phylacus and Autonous, whose sanctuaries were near the spot.
Herodotus, when he visited Delphi, saw in the sacred enclosure of Athena Pronaea
the identical crags which had crushed the Persians; and Ulrichs noticed near the
spot large blocks of stone which have rolled down from the summit. (Hdt.
8.35-39; [1.763] Diod. 11.14; Ulrichs, p. 46.) In B.C. 357 the Phocians, who had
been sentenced by the Amphictyonic Council to pay a heavy fine on the pretext of
their having cultivated a portion of the Cirrhaean plain, were persuaded by
Philomelus to complete the sacrilege with which they had been branded by seizing
the temple of Delphi itself. The enterprise was successful, and Delphi with all
its treasures passed into the hands of the Phocians. Hence arose the celebrated
Sacred War, which will be found related in all histories of Greece. The Phocians
at first abstained from touching the riches of the temple; but being hard
pressed by the Thebans and Locrians, they soon converted the treasures into
money for the purpose of paying their troops. When the war was at length brought
to a conclusion by Philip of. Macedon, and the temple restored to the custody of
the Amphictyons (B.C. 346), its more valuable treasures had disappeared, though
it still contained numerous works of art. The Phocians were sentenced to
replace, by yearly payments, these treasures, estimated at the sum of 10,000
talents, or nearly two millions and a half sterling. The Phocians, however, were
far too poor ever to be able to restore to the shrine any considerable portion
of its former wealth. In B.C. 279 the report of its riches tempted the cupidity
of Brennus and the Gauls; but they probably were ignorant of the loss it had
sustained in the Sacred War. They advanced to the attack by the same road which
the Persians had taken, but were repulsed in like manner by almost the some
supernatural agency. While the thunder rolled and an earthquake rent the rocks,
huge masses of stone rolled down from the mountains and crushed the foe.
(Justin, 24.6-8; Paus. 10.23.) The temple was plundered by Sulla, when he robbed
those of Olympia and Epidaurus. (Dio Cass. vol. i. p. 49, ed. Reimar.; Diod.
Exc. p. 614, ed. Wess.) Strabo describes the temple as very poor in his time
(ix. p. 420). It was again rifled by Nero, who carried off 500 brazen statues (Paus.
10.7.1). This emperor, angry with the god, deprived the temple of the Cirrhaean
territory, which he distributed among his soldiers, and abolished the oracle.
(D. C. 63.14.) But Hadrian, who did so much for the restoration of the Grecian
cities and temples, did not neglect Delphi; and under his reign and that of the
Antonines it appeared probably in a state of greater splendour than had been the
case from the time of the Sacred War. In this condition it was seen and
described by Pausanias; and we learn from Plutarch that the Pythia still
continued to give answers (de Pyth. Orac. 100.24). Coins of Delphi are found
down to the time of Caracalla. Constantine carried off several of its works of
art to adorn his new capital. (Sozom. H. E. 2.15.) The oracle was consulted by
Julian, but was finally silenced by Theodosius.
MAP OF DELPHI. MAP OF DELPHI.
AA. Walls of Philomelus.
BB. The Phaedriades.
D. Three Temples.
E. Temple of Athena Pronoea.
F. Sanctuary of Phylacus.
H. Sanctuary of Autonous.
I. Nauplia? Rodhiní.
K. Hyampeia. Flembúko.
L. Fountain of Castalia.
M. Fountain of Delphusa. Kerná.
THE SACRED ENCLOSURE. 1. The Temple.
2. The Great Altar.
5. Stoa of the Athenians.
6. Grave of Neoptolemus.
7. Fountain of Cassotis.
In describing Delphi we shall follow the steps of Pausanias. He entered Delphi
on its eastern side, having come by the road called Schisté, On the side of the
road before the town was the ancient cemetery, of which there are still numerous
remains: many of the graves are cut out of the face of the rock. Upon entering
the town Pausanias saw four temples--in succession: the first was in ruins; the
[1.764] second was empty; in the third were a few statues of Roman emperors; and
the fourth was the temple of Athena Pronoea. (Paus. 10.8.7.) The last is
described by Demosthenes as a very large and beautiful temple; and here
sacrifices were offered before consulting the oracle of Apollo. This goddess is
also called Pronaea from her dwelling in front of the temple of Apollo, that is,
upon the road leading to the main entrance of the latter. (Dem. c. Aristog. i.
p. 780; Aeschin. c. Ctesiph. p. 69; Aristid. Or. in Minerv. p. 26; Herod. 1.92,
8.37; Diod. 11.14; Aeschyl. Eum. 21, Παλλὰς Προναία δ᾽ ἐν λόγοις πρεσβεύεται.)
The site of the four temples is marked by an extensive platform resting upon
polygonal walls, on which lie fragments of pillars, triglyphs, and other remains
of temples, which give to the place the name of Marmariá.
A little above the temple of Athena Pronoea Pausanias saw the sanctuary of
Phylacus, a native hero, who along with his comrade Autonous assisted the
Delphians, both when the Persians and the Gauls made an attempt upon the temple.
The masses of stone still lying upon this spot have been already mentioned. A
short distance further was the Gymnasium to the left of the road, the site of
which is now occupied by the monastery of the Panaghía, surrounded by olives and
mulberry trees. In the church of the monastery two ancient inscriptions have
been found (Böckh, Inscr. 1687, 1723), as well as triglyphs and other
architectural remains. Pausanias says, that on turning to the left from the
Gymnasium the distance down to the river Pleistus appeared to him to be only
three stadia, but it is considerably more. The Pleistus is now called
Xeropótamos, because it is dry in the summer months.
“In ascending from the gymnasium to the temple of Apollo, the water of Castalia
was on the right of the road.” (Paus. 10.8.9.) The far-famed fountain of
Castalia issues from the fissure between the two lofty cliffs with peaked
summits, of which we have already briefly spoken in describing the site of
Delphi. The spring rises close to the eastern of the two cliffs, now called
Flembúko. In antiquity it bore the name of HYAMPEIA (Ὑάμπεια), as appears from
the statement of Herodotus, that the sanctuary of Autonous was near the Castalia
at the foot of the Hypampeian summit. (Hdt. 8.39.) From this height criminals
were hurled, who had been guilty of any act of impiety towards the Delphian
sanctuary. (Schol. ad Lucian. Phal. 1.6; Schol. ad Aristoph. Vesp. 1444; del.
Var. Hist. 11.5; Eur. Ion 1222, 1266.) After the murder of Aesop, who was hurled
from the Hyampeia, the Delphians, out of respect to his memory, transferred the
place of punishment to the peak NAUPLIA (Ναυπλία, Plut. de Ser. Num. Vind.
100.12; comp. Hdt. 2.134). This has been usually supposed to be the western of
the two summits, now named Rodhiní; but there is no authority for this
statement, and Ulrichs transfers the name to the steep rocks on the western side
of the town, from which many Turkish prisoners were hurled in the war of
The celebrity of the two peaks through which the Castalia flows led the poets
and later writers to speak of two summits of Parnassus, although one, namely
that of Lycoreia, towers above all others. Some writers even seem to have
supposed that the two peaks of the Castalia were actually the summits of
Parnassus itself, although the latter rises in reality several thousand feet
above them:-- “Mons ibi verticlibus petit arduus castra duobus,
Nomine Parnassus, superatque cacumine nubes.
（Ov. Met. 1.316; comp. Lucan 5.71; Stat. Theb. 7.346; Lucian, Contempl. 5; Nonn.
Dionys. xiii. p. 358.) The two peaks were sacred to Dionysus. Above them was the
Corycian cave, of which we shall speak below, which also belonged to Dionysus.
and his attendants, the Corycian nymphs: hence the name of Corycian was
sometimes given to the two summits themselves:-- “σὲ δ᾽ ὑπὲρ διλόφου πέτρας
στέροψ ὄπωπε λιγνὺς, ἔνθα Κωρύκιαι Νύμφαι
Κασταλίας τε νᾶμα. ῾σοπη. αντιγ. 1126.᾿
σέβω δὲ νύμφας, ἔνθα Κωρυκὶς πέτρα
κοίλη, φίλορνις, δαιμόνων ἀναστροφή:
Βρόμιος δ᾽ ἔχει τὸν χῶρον.
” (Aesch. Eum. 22.) “πόθι Νύσας ἄρα τᾶς θηροτρόφου θυρσοφορεῖς
θιάσους, ὦ Διόνυς᾿, ἢ κορυφαῖς Κωρυκίαις;
（Eur. Ba. 556.)
The semicircular range of rocks, to which the two summits belonged, bore the
general name of PHAEDRIADES (Φαιδριάδες), as was remarked above. Diodorus gives
this name to the western rocks, where Philomelus gained a victory over the
Locrians (16.28); and the eastern rock Hyampeia, from which Aesop is said to
have been precipitated, is included by Suidas among the Phaedriades (Suid. s.
vv. Αἴσωπος, Φαιδρίας). They faced nearly due south, and thus received the rays
of the sun during the most brilliant part of the day. It was apparently owing to
this circumstance that they were called Phaedriades, or “Resplendent.” Receiving
the full rays of the sun, they reflected them upon the temple and works of art
below; and hence Ion represents himself as “serving the livelong day beneath the
sun's bright wing” (παναμέριος ἅμ̓ ἀελίου πτέρυγι θοῇ λατρεὕων, Eur. Ion 122;
from Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. i. p. 188). In the in-accessible rocks of the
Phaedriades innumerable birds build their nests; and eagles, vultures, and other
birds of prey constantly hover over the valley below. The same was the case in
ancient times; and accordingly, in Euripides, Ion,when about to discharge his
daily service in the temple, carries with him a bow and arrows in order to keep
off these intruders. (Eur. Ion 154, seq.)
The fissure between the two summits is the bed of a torrent, which forms in
seasons of rain a fine cascade of about 200 feet in height. “At the lower
extremity of the dry torrent bed, just where it emerges from between the cliffs,
issue the waters of the Castalian spring, oozing at first in scarce perceptible
streamlets from among the loose stones, but swelling into a considerable brook
within not many yards of their first appearance above ground.” (Mure.) It flows
through a hollow dell down to the Pleistus, passing by the monastery of the
Panaghiá on its left or eastern side.
The Castalia was the holy water of the Delphian temple. All persons who came to
consult the oracle, or who wished to pray to the god before engaging in any of
the matches of the Pythian games, or who visited Delphi for any religious object
whatsoever, were obliged to purify themselves at this sacred fountain. (Heliod.
Aeth. 2.26; Pind. P. 4.290, 5.39; Plut. Arist. 20.) Even the servants of the
temple used, the water for the same purpose. (Eur. Ion 94.) The bathing of the
hair seems, to have [1.765] been the chief form of the purification, and hence
this is attributed by the poets to Apollo himself:-- “ἔτι δὲ Κασταλίας ὕδωρ
ἐπιμένει με κόμας ἐμὰς
” (Eur. Phoen. 222.) “Qui rore puro Castaliae lavit
（Hor. Carm. 3.4.61; comp. Ov. Met. 1.371; Stat. Theb. 1.698). There can be no
doubt that those who visited Delphi for the purpose of being purified from
murder bathed their whole body in the Castalian spring. There are still remains
of a bath cut out of the rock, which received the waters of the spring, and to
which steps led down. It is called by Ulrichs the “Bath of the Pythian
Pilgrims.” Preceding writers had given it the name of the “Bath of the Pythia,”
an appellation which has arisen from the erroneous statement of a Scholiast (ad
Eurip. Phoen. 230). The aged women, who were elected to the office of Pythia
from the Delphian families, appear never to have bathed in the fountain, or at
all events only upon their consecration to their prophetic office, since they
lived in the temple without coming in contact with any profane objects, and
consequently needed no further purification. In the Ion of Euripides the Pythia
is in the adytum before sun-rise, and in the Eumenides of Aeschylus there is no
mention of the bath of the Pythia before she ascends the tripod.
In later times the Castalian spring was said to impart to those who drank of it
poetic inspiration; but this is an invention of the Roman poets, who appear to
have attributed to it this power from Apollo being the protector of the
Muses:--“Mihi flavus Apollo Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.”
（Ov. Am. 1.15 35; comp. Stat. Silv. 5.5, init.; Martial, 12.3. 11.)
The Castalia is now called the fountain of St. John, from a small chapel of St.
John which stands close to its source.
Near the spring there is at present a plane tree, which is the only one in
Kastrí and the immediate neighbourhood. It is conjectured by Ulrichs to be the
very tree celebrated in antiquity as the one which Agamemnon was said to have
planted at Delphi (Theophr. Hist. Plaut. 4.13. s. 14), since it seems scarcely
possible to assign any limits to the life of plane trees in Greece, especially
when they grow by the side of perennial streams.
The road from the Castalian spring led to the principal entrance into the
Pythian sanctuary. The sanctuary, which contained several other buildings
besides the temple, was called τὸ ἱερὸν, τὸ τέμενος and Πύθω in a narrower
sense. It was enclosed by a wall, named ὁ ἱερὸς περίβολος. Pausanias entered the
sacred enclosure by the principal gate, which faced the east, and quitted it by
a western door near the theatre. He remarks that there were numerous means of
exit, which was unusual in Grecian sanctuaries. He describes the sanctuary as
occupying the highest part of the city, and the peribolus as of great size
(10.8.9). It appears to have been nearly in the form of a triangle, of which the
basis lying towards the south is marked by the ruins called Hellenicó. The
peasants gave the ruins this name, because they, regarded them as the wall of a
fortress; and the modern name of Kastrí has arisen out of the belief that a
fortress once existed here. Ulrichs also discovered a portion of the northern
corner half-way between the church of Nicolaus and the fountain Kerná. From the
nature of the ground, which is a steep declivity, the buildings in the sacred
enclosure must have stood upon terraces; and it was probably upon the walls of
these terraces that many of the inscriptions were cut which we now find at
The most remarkable objects in the sacred enclosure lay between the principal or
eastern entrance and the temple. Both Pausanias and the strangers in Plutarch's
Dialogue on the Pythian Oracle went from the Castalia to the temple by the same
way; and, consequently, the objects which, they both agree in describing must be
placed between the principal entrance and the temple.
Upon entering the enclosure from the eastern gate the first objects seen were
statues of athletes and other dedicatory offerings, of which Pausanias has given
us a long account (10.9, seq.). Their num. ber was very great. Even in Pliny's:
time they were not less than 3000. (Plin. Nat. 34.7.7.) Nero alone, as we have
already seen, carried off 500 bronze statues, (Paus. 10.7.1.) Many of them could
be seen, rising above the peribolus, by persons ascending the eastern road to
the sanctuary; (Justin; 24.7; Polyaen. 7.35.2.)
Pausanias and Plutarch next mention the Stone of the Sibyl, which was a rock
rising above the ground, and was so called because it was the seat occupied by
the first Sibyl. (Paus. 10.12.1; Plut. de Pyth. Or. 9; Clem. Alex. Strom, i. p.
Near the Stone were the Thesauri (θησαυροί), or treasuries, which did not stand
on a single plat-form as at Olympia, but were built separately about the Stone
as far as the great altar. They were small buildings, partly above and partly
below the ground, in which were kept the more valuable offerings, and such as
could not be exposed without injury to the air. The most celebrated of all the
treasuries was that of the Corinthians, said to have been built by Cypselus, in
which were preserved, among other things, the gold and silver offerings of Gyges.
(Paus. 10.13.5; Hdt. 1.14, 4.162; Plut. Sept. Sap. Conviv. 21, de Pyth. Or. 12.)
The Stoa; built by the Athenians, also served the purpose of a treasury. (Paus.
10.1.6.) It stood apparently east of the Stone of the Sibyl.
Near the Stoa of the Athenians was the Bouleuterion (βουλευτήριον) or
Senate-House of the Delphians. (Plut. de Pyth. Or. 9; Clem. Alex. Strom, i. p.
In front of the temple, and under the open heaven, stood the great altar of
Apollo, where the daily sacrifices were offered. It is probably the same as the
altar mentioned by Herodotus (2.135) as a dedicatory offering of the Chians. It
is called by Pausanias βωμὸς ὁ μέγας (10.14.7), by Euripides βωμός (Ion, 1275,
1306, 1314), βωμοί (422), and βωμὸς Θεοῦ (1280). The court in which it stood is
called by Euripides θυμέλη (114) and θυμέλαι (46). Near the altar stood a brazen
wolf, dedicated by the Delphians themselves, (Paus. 10.14.7.)
We now come to the temple itself. It appears from the existing fragments of
columns that the exterior was of the Doric order, and the interior of the Ionic.
It would seem to have been a hexastyle temple, and smaller by one-seventh than
the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Still it was reckoned one of [1.766] the largest
in Greece (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. 7.11), and vied in beauty with the temples of
Athens (Eur. Ion 184; Pind. P. 7.9). It has been already related that it was
erected by the Alcmaeonidae, under the superintendence of the Corinthian
architect Spintharus, after it had been burnt down in B.C. 548, and that the
front was built of Parian marble, while the remainder was of ordinary stone. The
tympana of the pediments of the two porticoes were filled with sculptures, the
one with statues of Artemis, Leto, Apollo, the Muses, and the setting sun, and
the other with those of Dionysus and the Thyiades, both of them the works of
Athenian artists. (Paus. 10.19.4.) Euripides has described five of the metopes,
probably those on the eastern front. The subjects were, Hercules and Iolaus
slaying the Lernaean hydra, Bellerophon killing the Chimaera, Zeus killing Mimas,
Pallas killing Enceladus, and Bacchus another of the giants. (Eur. Ion 190-218.)
As in the Parthenon, there were gilded shields upon the architraves of the two
fronts beneath the metopes: those in the eastern front were dedicated by the
Athenians from the spoils of the Persians at Marathon, and those on the western
front by the Aetolians from the spoils of the Gauls. (Paus. 10.19.4.)
The interior of the temple consisted of three divisions, the Pronaus (πρόναος),
the Cella (ναός, σηκός), and the Adytum, where the oracles were delivered (ἄδυτον,
In the Pronaus stood a brazen statue of Homer (Paus. 10.24.2), and also, in the
time of Herodotus, the large silver crater presented by Croesus (Hdt. 1.51). On
the walls of the Pronaus were inscribed, by order of the Amphictyons, in golden
letters, the celebrated sayings of the Seven Wise Men, such as “Know thyself,”
“Nothing too much.” (Plut. de Garrul. 17; Paus. 10.24.1; Plin. Nat. 7.33.) Here
also was set up in wood the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, which, according
to tradition, was dedicated in common by the Seven Wise Men. It was a simple E,
which in the ancient Greek writing also represented the diphthong εἰ. There were
various interpretations of its meaning, of which Plutarch has given an account
in his treatise upon the subject.
The Cella was supported by Ionic columns, as appears from existing fragments. In
it Pausanias saw an altar of Poseidon, to whom the oracle belonged in the most
ancient times, statues of two Moerae or Fates, together with statues of Zeus and
Apollo as leaders of the Fates, the hearth upon which the priest of Apollo slew
Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and the iron chair of Pindar, on which he is
said to have sung his hymns to Apollo. (Paus. 10.24.4, seq.)
On the hearth burnt a perpetual fire, and near it was the Omphalos, or
Navel-Stone, which was supposed to mark the middle point of the earth. (Aeschyl.
Choëph. 1034, seq.; Φοιβήϊος γᾶς μεσόμφαλος ἑστία, Eur. Ion 461.) According to
tradition, two eagles, which had been sent by Zeus, one from the east, and the
other from the west, met at this point, and thus determined it to be the centre
of the earth. (Pind. P. 4.131, 6.3; Strab. ix. p.419.) The Omphalos was a white
stone, adorned with stripes of various kinds, and upon it were the
representations of the two eagles (ὀμφαλός . . . ταινιωμένος, Strab. l.c.;
στέμμασί γ᾽ ἐνδυτὸς, Eur. Ion 224; Paus. 10.16.3). It is frequently represented
in vase-paintings, in which Orestes is exhibited sitting upon it, exactly as
described by Aeschylus. (Eum. 40; comp. Müller, Aeschl. Eum. § 27.) The site of
the Omphalos is not mentioned by Pausanias. It was clearly in the interior of
the temple, for in Aeschylus the Pythia, in going through the temple to the
Adytum, perceives Orestes seated upon the Omphalos (Eum. l.c.). It probably
stood, along with the sacred hearth, as nearly as possible in the centre of the
Cella. The sacred hearth was usually in the centre of the house or the temple.
Thus, the altar in the middle of the palace at Mycenae is called by
Clytaemnestra μεσόμφαλος ἑστία. (Aesch. Ag. 1056.)
The temple was hypaethral, that is, there was an opening in the roof of the
Cella. This follows from the narrative of Justin, who relates that, when the
temple was attacked by the Gauls, the priests saw the god descend into the
sanctuary through the open part of the roof ( “per culminis aperta fastigia,”
Justin, 24.8). In fact, all temples which had in the interior an altar on which
sacrifices were offered, or a hearth on which fire was kept burning, were
obliged to have some opening for carrying off the smoke.
The Adytum, in which the oracles were delivered, was a subterraneous chamber,
which no one was allowed to enter except the priests, or those to whom special
permission was given. That the Adytum was under-ground appears from the
expressions by which it is frequently designated in the ancient writers, and
which refer not only to natural caves and grottoes, but to chambers built
under-ground. (σάθεά τ᾽ ἄντρα δράκοντος, Eur. Phoen. 232; ἄντρον, Strab. ix.
p.419; τὸ τοῦ κληθέντος Πύθωνος σπήλαιον, Athen. 15.701c.; “specus,” Liv. 1.56;
“Castalium antrum,” Ov. Met. 3.14; “caverna,” Lucan 5.135, 162.) It is described
as situated in the inmost part of the temple, and is frequently called μυχός. (Paus.
10.24.5; μυχός, Aesch. Eum. 39.) No account of it is given by Pausanias, who
simply says that “few are admitted into the inmost part of the temple, and that
in it there is a second statue of Apollo, made of gold.” (Paus. l.c.) Ulrichs
conjectures that the entrance into the Adytum may have been either on the
western side of the Cella, opposite the great door of the temple; or on the
northern side, where an excavation might be made in the rock in the direction of
the fountain Cassotis, which flowed into the Adytum.
Stephanus B. says (s. v. Δελφοί) that the Adytum was built of five stones, by
the celebrated Trophonius and Agamedes, who appear in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo
as the original architects of the temple. And it is natural to conclude that the
Adytum and the polygonal substruction of the temple escaped the fire which
destroyed the building in the 58th Olympiad.
In the inmost part of the Adytum stood a tripod over a deep chasm in the earth,
whence proceeded an intoxicating vapour, which was supposed to inspire the
priestess with the gift of prophecy. (Strab. l.c.) This opening is described by
various names in the ancient writers. (χάσμα, Diod. 16.26; γῆς στόμα, Stobaeus,
Ecl. 1.42; Πυθικὸν στόμιον, Lucian, Ner. 10, D. C. 63.14; “hiatus,” Lucan 5.82;
“terrae foramen,” 24.6.) According to Plutarch this vapour arose from a fountain
(de Def. Or. 50, de Pyth. Or. 17), which is said by Pausanias to have been the
fountain Cassotis, that disappeared beneath the ground in the Adytum (10.24.7).
Pausanias also relates that the oracle [1.767] was discovered in consequence of
some shepherds, who had driven their flocks to the spot, becoming inspired by
the vapour and uttering prophecies (10.5.7). The Pythia sat upon the tripod when
she gave the oracles of Apollo, and the object of it was to prevent her falling
into the chasm. (Diod. 16.26.) Between the three legs of the tripod hung a
circular vessel, called λέβης and cortina, in which were preserved the bones and
teeth of the Pythian serpent. (Dionys. Per. 441, and Eustath. ad loc.; Serv. ad
Virg. Aen. 3.360, 6.317.) For a further description of this tripod, see Dict. of
Ant. art. Tripos. No vapour is now found issuing from any part of the Delphian
Upon leaving the temple, we again follow Panusanias in his account of the
remaining objects, which lay north of the temple within the peribolus.
Pausanias, upon going out of the temple, turned to the left, where he noticed a
peribolus enclosing the tomb of Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, to whom the
Delphians offered sacrifices every year. (Paus. 10.24.6; Strab. ix. p.421.) He
was said to have been murdered in the temple, near the sacred hearth; but the
manner of his death was differently related. Above the ruins of the temple, and
a little to the east, Ulrichs noticed the remains of an ancient wall, which he
supposed to be a part of the peribolus of the tomb of Neoptolemus.
Still higher up above the tomb, was the stone which Cronus was said to have
swallowed instead of his son Zeus, and afterwards to have vomited up. (Paus.
l.c.) Upon leaving the stone, and returning as it were to the temple, Pausanias
came to the fountain Cassotis (Κασσοτίς), the access to which was through a
small wall built near it (10.24.7). Ulrichs identifies Cassotis with the
fountain near the church of St. Nicolaus, before which are some remains of an
ancient polygonal wall. Pausanias further says, as we have already seen, that
the Cassotis flowed into the Adytum. Accordingly, we find that the fountain of
St. Nicolaus lies immediately above the ruins of the temple; and lower down the
hill we now find some water springing out of the ground at the present Hellenieó,
which water is probably the same that once flowed into the Adytum, but has now
made an exit for itself below, in consequence of being buried by the ruins of
the temple. All previous travellers had identified the Cassotis with the
fountain Kerná, which flows between the ruins of the theatre and the Stadium;
but, in addition to other objections that might be urged, it is impossible to
believe that the peribolus of the temple extended so far.
The name Cassotis occurs only in Pausanias, but the fountain itself is mentioned
in other ancient writers. It is mentioned in the Homeric Hymn as a beautifully
flowing fountain, where Apollo slew the serpent (in Apoll. 300); and Euripides
alludes to it as watering the sacred grove surrounding this temple (Ion, 112).
This sacred grove, which is frequently mentioned by the ancient writers,
consisted of laurel-trees and myrtles, but one laurel-tree in particular was
called pre-eminently the Pythian laurel, and branches of it were used for sacred
purposes within the temple.
Above the Cassotis was the LESCHE (Λέσχη) of the Delphians (Paus. 10.25.1), part
of the stone floor of which was discovered by Ulrichs in the out-buildings of a
house above the fountain of St. Nicolaus. Leschae were public buildings, in
which persons might meet together and converse, since private houses were
generally too small for such a purpose. The Delphian Lesche was adorned with two
large paintings by Polygnotus, dedicatory offirings of the Cnidians; the
painting on the right hand represented the capture of Troy and the departure of
the Greeks, and that on the left the descent of Ulysses into Hades. A long
description of these pictures is given by Pausanias (10.25-31; comp. Plut. de
Def. Or. 6, 47; Plin. Nat. 35.9. s. 35). The figure of Cassandra was
particularly admired. (Lucian, Imag. 7.)
The site of the theatre is marked by a high wall, a little to the west of the
Cassotis. This wall, which is covered by several inscriptions, was the southern
wall of the theatre, which, as usual with Grecian theatres, was built in a
semicircular form upon the slope of the hill. The inner part of the theatre is
almost entirely covered, and only a small portion of the upper seats is visible.
It appears from an inscription that the theatre lay within the Pythian sanctuary
(Böckh, Inscr. No. 1710), and according to Pausanias it adjoined the wall of the
enclosure (10.32.1). Accordingly, the ruins of the theatre determine the extent
of the enclosure to the northwest. In the theatre the musical contests of the
Pythian games were carried on, from the earliest to the latest times. (Plut. de
Def. Or. 8.)
Ascending from the Peribolus (ἐπαναβάντι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ περιβόλου, Paus. 10.32.1),
Pausanias came to a statue of Dionysus, and then to the Stadium, situated in the
highest part of the city. It was built of Parnassian stone, but was adorned with
Pentelic marble by Herodes Atticus. (Paus. l.c.; Philostr. Vit. Sophist. ii. p.
550.) There are still considerable remains of the Stadium, now called Lákkoma,
and its whole length may be distinctly traced. Many of the seats remain,
composed of the native rock; but the Pentelic marble with which it was decorated
by Herodes Atticus is no longer found. It has been already mentioned that the
Stadium was originally in the maritime plain, where it continued to be in the
time of Pindar (Pind. P. 11.20, 73); and we do not know when it was removed to
It has been shown above that the large fountain Kerna near the Stadium was not
the Castalia. There can be little doubt that the ancient name of Kerná was
DELPHUSA (Δελφοῦσα), which we learn from Stephanus B. was the fountain of the
place (s. v. Δελφοί). The Castalia, from its position, could supply only the
lower and eastern part of the city; and that the Pylaea, in the western part of
the city, was well provided with water is expressly stated by Plutarch (de Pyth.
Or. 29). It is not improbable that Κερνᾶ, the modern name of the fountain, is
only a corruption of the ancient κρήνη.
Pylaea (Πυλαία) was a suburb of Delphi, on the road to Crissa. It derived its
name from the meeting of the Amphictyonic Council in this place, the council, as
is well known, being called Pylaea. In the time of Plutarch, Pylaea was provided
with “temples, synedria, and fountains.” The synedria appear to have been built
in later times for the use of the Amphictyons; and the two ancient walls
supporting the artificial platform, upon which the chapel of St. Elias stands,
are probably the remains of such a building. (Plut. de Pyth. Or. 29; Dion
Chrysost. Or. lxxvii. p. 414.) A little above the chapel of St. Elias, in the
direction of the Stadium, there are some ancient sepulchres cut out of the rock.
It was upon approaching the suburb of Pylaea that Eumenes was attacked by the
conspirators, for the [1.768] buildings mentioned by Livy are evidently those of
Pylaea ( “escendentibus ad templum a Cirrha, priusquam perveniretur ad
frequentia aedificiis loca,” Liv. 42.15).
Above Delphi was the celebrated cave called CORYCIUM (τὸ Κωρύκιον ἄντρον,
Corycian Cave), distant, according to Leake, about 7 miles from the city, to the
northeastward, and about the same distance to the north-west of Arákhova. The
usual way from Kastrí to the heights of Parnassus leads past the Stadium, and
then turns more to the west than the ancient path, which ascended the mountain
immediately above the city. The ancient way was an astonishing work. It was a
zigzag path, consisting of more than a thousand steps cut out of the hard rock,
and forming an uninterrupted flight of steps to the highlands above. There are
still considerable remains of it, but it is now seldom used, as the modern path
is easier. It takes about two hours to reach the highlands of Parnassus, which
are divided by hills and mountain-summits into a number of larger and smaller
valleys and ravines, partly covered with forests of pine and fir, and partly
cultivated as arable and pasture land. This district extends about 16 miles in a
westerly direction from the foot of the highest summit. It formed the most
valuable part of the territory of Delphi. Leake describes it as “a country of
pasture, interspersed with firs, and peopled with shepherds and their flocks,” .
and remarks that he “occasionally passed fields of wheat, barley, and oats all
yet green, though it was the 27th of July, and the harvest in the plains of
Boeotia had been completed a month before.”
The Corycian cave is situated in the mountain on the northern side of the
valley. It is thus described by Leake:--“We ascended more. than half-way to its
summit, when a small triangular entrance presented itself, conducting into the
great chamber of the cavern, which is upwards of 200 feet in length, and about
40 high in the middle. Drops of water from the roof had formed large calcareous
crystallizations rising at. the bottom, and others were suspended from every
part of the roof and sides. The inner part of this great hall is rugged and
irregular; but after climbing over some. rocks, we arrived at another small
opening leading into a second chamber, the length of which is near 100 feet, and
has a direction nearly at a right angle with the outer cavern. In this inner
apartment there is again a narrow opening, but inaccessible without a ladder; at
the foot of the ascent to it is a small natural opening.” Pausanias says
(10.32.2) that there were 60 stadia from Delphi to a brazen statue, from whence
it was: easier to ascend to the cavern on foot than on a horse and mule; and,
accordingly, Leake supposes the statue to have stood at the foot of the
mountain, since the distance from thence to Delphi is nearly that mentioned by
Pausanias. The latter writer remarks that this cave is larger than any of the
other celebrated caverns which he had seen, and that a person can proceed a very
long way through it even without a torch. He adds that it was sacred to Pan and
the Nymphs, which is also attested by other ancient writers, and is confirmed by
an inscription found in the cave. (Strab. ix. p.417; Aesch. Eum. 22; Böckh,
Inscr. No. 1728; Raikes, in Walpole's Collection, vol. i. p. 314.). Pan and the
Nymphs were regarded as the companions of Dionysus, whose orgies were celebrated
upon these heights. [See above, p. 764b.] When the Persiras were marching upon
Delphi, the inhabitants took refuge in this cave (Hdt. 8.36), and it has been
used for the same purpose by the inhabitants of Arákhova in recent times.
According to Ulrichs, the Corycian cave is now called Σαρανταύλι by the
peasants, from its being supposed to contain 40 chambers (from σαράντα,
Pausanias says, that “from the Corycian cave it is difficult even for a
well-girt man to reach the summits of Parnassus; that they were above the
clouds; and that upon them the Thyiades perform their frantic rites in honour of
Dionysus and Apollo” (10.32.7). The way from the Corycian cave to the highest
summit of Parnassus turns to the north-east. The summit which the traveller at
last reaches, but which is only the second in height, is called Gerontóbrachos
(ὁ Γεροντόβραχος). On. its northern and eastern sides lay great masses of snow,
which never melt. Opposite to it, towards the east, there rises in a conical
form the highest summit of Parnassus, upwards. of 8000 feet in, height, called
Lykéri by the peasants, who consider it the highest point of the world, from
which the, Polis (i. e. Constantinople) may be seen.
Parnassus, with its many summits and highlands, is called by the inhabitants
Liákura (Λιάκουρα), a word which is usually supposed to be a corruption of
Λυκώρεια, the ancient name of the highest summit of Parnassus. But Ulrichs
considers Liákura an Albanian word, observing that ancient Greek words, the
roots of which have retained their meaning, are never changed so much in the
modern Greek language, and that Λυκέρι, the name of the highest summit, is the
representative of the old word Λυκώρειον, since modern Greek words ending in ι
are shortened forms of the termination--ιον or--ειον. Stephanus B. (s. v.
Λυκώρεια) mentions a Lycoreium, which appears to have been a sanctuary of the
Lycorian Zeus, whose altar was on the highest summit of Parnassus, where
Deucalion is said to have landed after the Deluge. (Lucian, Tim. 3; Schol. ad
Pind. Ol. 9.70; Apollod. 1.7.2.)
IV. MODERN AUTHORITIES.
The antiquities of Athens for a long time engrossed the attention of travellers;
and so little was known of Delphi, that when Spon visited Greece in 1676 he
first looked for the ruins of the city at Sálona, the ancient Amphissa. He
afterwards discovered the site of Delphi, but erroneously supposed, the temple
to have stood upon the same site as the church of St. Elias; he rightly
identified the Castalian fountain and the position of the gymnasium. A more
accurate account of the ruins of Delphi was given by Chandler (A.D. 1765), who
determined more correctly the site of the temple, and published several
inscriptions which he found there. Clark, Dodwell, and Gell did not add much new
information; but Leake has given us an account, of the place, distinguished by
his usual sagacity and learning, which is far superior to any previous
description. (Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 551.) Still even his accurate account
has been superseded by the fuller description of Ulrichs, who passed several
weeks at Delphi in 1838, and published the results of his investigations under
the title of Reisen und Forschungen in Griechenland, Bremen, 1840. To this
valuable work we are indebted for [1.769] a considerable part of the preceding
article. The modern works relating to the temple of Delphi are enumerated in the
Dict. of Ant. art. Oraculum. The inscriptions discovered by K. O. Müller at
Delphi are published and illustrated by Curtius, Anecdota Delphica, Berol. 1843. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography,
William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Delphi (Greek Δελφοί, /ðelˈfi/) is both an archaeological site and
a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the
valley of Phocis. In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle,
the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the
worship of the god Apollo after he slew the Python, a deity who lived there and
protected the navel of the Earth. Python (derived from the verb pythein, "to
rot") is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of
the Python that Apollo defeated (Miller, 95). The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo
recalled that the ancient name of this site had been Krisa. His sacred
precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting
in 586 B.C. (Miller, 96) athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the
Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic (or stephanitic) games, precursors of
the Modern Olympics. The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown
which was ceremonially cut down from a tree in Tempe by a boy who re-enacted the
slaying of the Python (Miller, 96). Delphi was set apart from the other games
sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions (Miller, 95).
These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically
and based on importance (Miller, 96). These games, though, were different from
the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast Importance to the city
of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the city of Olympia. Delphi would have
been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other
attractions that led to it being labeled the "omphalos" (navel) of the earth, in
other words, the center of the world (Miller, 96–7). In the inner hestia
("hearth") of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of
Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the
hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek
colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.
Location. Delphi is north of the Gulf of Corinth in central Greece. The site
of Delphi is located in lower central Greece, on multiple plateaux/terraces
along the slope of Mount Parnassus, and includes the Sanctuary of Apollo,the
site of the ancient Oracle. This semicircular spur is known as Phaedriades, and
overlooks the Pleistos Valley. Southwest of Delphi, about 15 km (9.3 mi) away,
is the harbor-city of Kirrha on the Corinthian Gulf. Delphi also located in the
south-western of spur of Mount Parnassus. - Wikipedia
Map of the Roman Empire (Click to Enlarge)
The Roman Empire During the First Century AD
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
New Testament Israel |
Map of Old Testament Israel
the Roman Empire | Bible