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Listed 4 sub titles with search on: Ancient literary sources for destination: "DELFI Ancient sanctuary FOKIDA".

Ancient literary sources (4)



  Of Phocis two cities are the most famous, Delphi and Elateia. Delphi, because of the temple of the Pythian Apollo, and because of the oracle, which is ancient, since Agamemnon is said by the poet to have had an oracle given him from there; for the minstrel is introduced as singing "the quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles, son of Peleus, how once they strove . . ., and Agamemnon, lord of men, rejoiced at heart . . ., for thus Phoebus Apollo, in giving response to him at Pytho, had told him that it should be." Delphi, I say, is famous because of these things, but Elateia, because it is the largest of all the cities there, and has the most advantageous position, because it is situated in the narrow passes and because he who holds this city holds the passes leading into Phocis and Boeotia. For, first, there are the Oetaean Mountains; and then those of the Locrians and Phocians, which are not everywhere passable to invaders from Thessaly, but have passes, both narrow and separated from one another, which are guarded by the adjacent cities; and the result is, that when these cities are captured, their captors master the passes also. But since the fame of the temple at Delphi has the priority of age, and since at the same time the position of its places suggests a natural beginning (for these are the most westerly parts of Phocis), I should begin my description there.
  As I have already said, Parnassus is situated on the western boundaries of Phocis. Of this mountain, then, the side towards the west is occupied by the Ozolian Locrians, whereas the southern is occupied by Delphi, a rocky place, theatre-like, having the oracle and the city on its summit, and filling a circuit of sixteen stadia. Situated above Delphi is Lycoreia, on which place, above the temple, the Delphians were established in earlier times. But now they live close to the temple, round the Castalian fountain. Situated in front of the city, toward the south, is Cirphis, a precipitous mountain, which leaves in the intervening space a ravine, through which flows the Pleistus River. Below Cirphis lies Cirrha, an ancient city, situated by the sea; and from it there is an ascent to Delphi of about eighty stadia. It is situated opposite Sicyon. In front of Cirrha lies the fertile Crisaean Plain; for again one comes next in order to another city, Crisa, from which the Crisaean Gulf is named. Then to Anticyra, bearing the same name as the city on the Maliac Gulf near Oeta. And, in truth, they say that it is in the latter region that the hellebore of fine quality is produced, though that produced in the former is better prepared, and on this account many people resort thither to be purged and cured; for in the Phocian Anticyra, they add, grows a sesame-like medicinal plant with which the Oetaean hellebore is prepared (Strab. 9,3,2-3).

This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

The temple of the Pythian Apollo (The oracle)

  Now Anticyra still endures, but Cirrha and Crisa have been destroyed, the former earlier, by the Crisaeans, and Crisa itself later, by Eurylochus the Thessalian, at the time of the Crisaean War. For the Crisaeans, already prosperous because of the duties levied on importations from Sicily and Italy, proceeded to impose harsh taxes on those who came to visit the temple, even contrary to the decrees of the Amphictyons. And the same thing also happened in the case of the Amphissians, who belonged to the Ozolian Locrians. For these too, coming over, not only restored Crisa and proceeded to put under cultivation again the plain which had been consecrated by the Amphictyons, but were worse in their dealings with foreigners than the Crisaeans of old had been. Accordingly, the Amphictyons punished these too, and gave the territory back to the god: The temple, too, has been much neglected, though in earlier times it was held in exceedingly great honor. Clear proofs of this are the treasure houses, built both by peoples and by potentates, in which they deposited not only money which they had dedicated to the god, but also works of the best artists; and also the Pythian Games, and the great number of the recorded oracles.
  They say that the seat of the oracle is a cave that is hollowed out deep down in the earth, with a rather narrow mouth, from which arises breath that inspires a divine frenzy; and that over the mouth is placed a high tripod, mounting which the Pythian priestess receives the breath and then utters oracles in both verse and prose, though the latter too are put into verse by poets who are in the service of the temple. They say that the first to become Pythian priestess was Phemonoe; and that both the prophetess and the city were so called from the word pythesthai," though the first syllable was lengthened, as in athanatos, akamatos, and diakonos. Now the following is the idea which leads to the founding of cities and to the holding of common sanctuaries in high esteem: men came together by cities and by tribes, because they naturally tend to hold things in common, and at the same time because of their need of one another; and they met at the sacred places that were common to them for the same reasons, holding festivals and general assemblies; for everything of this kind tends to friendship, beginning with eating at the same table, drinking libations together, and lodging under the same roof; and the greater the number of the sojourners and the greater the number of the places whence they came, the greater was thought to be the use of their coming together.
  Now although the greatest share of honor was paid to this temple because of its oracle, since of all oracles in the world it had the repute of being the most truthful, yet the position of the place added something. For it is almost in the center of Greece taken as a whole, between the country inside the Isthmus and that outside it; and it was also believed to be in the center of the inhabited world, and people called it the navel of the earth, in addition fabricating a myth, which is told by Pindar, that the two eagles (some say crows) which had been set free by Zeus met there, one coming from the west and the other from the east. There is also a kind of navel to be seen in the temple; it is draped with fillets, and on it are the two likenesses of the birds of the myth.
  Such being the advantages of the site of Delphi, the people easily came together there, and especially those who lived near it. And indeed the Amphictyonic League was organized from the latter, both to deliberate concerning common affairs and to keep the superintendence of the temple more in common, because much money and many votive offerings were deposited there, requiring great vigilance and holiness. Now the facts of olden times are unknown, but among the names recorded Acrisius is reputed to have been the first to administer the Amphictyony and to determine the cities that were to have a part in the council and to give a vote to each city, to one city separately or to another jointly with a second or with several, and also to proclaim the Amphictyonic Rights--all the rights that cities have in their dealings with cities. Later there were several other administrations, until this organization, like that of the Achaeans, was dissolved. Now the first cities which came together are said to have been twelve, and each sent a Pylagoras, the assembly convening twice a year, in spring and in late autumn; but later still more cities were added. They called the assembly Pylaea, both that of spring and that of late autumn, since they convened at Pylae, which is also called Thermopylae; and the Pylagorae sacrificed to Demeter. Now although at the outset only the people who lived near by had a share both in these things and in the oracle, later the people living at a distance also came and consulted the oracle and sent gifts and built treasure houses, as, for instance, Croesus, and his father Alyattes, and some of the Italiotes, and the Sicilians.
  But wealth inspires envy, and is therefore difficult to guard, even if it is sacred. At present, certainly, the temple at Delphi is very poor, at least so far as money is concerned; but as for the votive offerings, although some of them have been carried off, most of them still remain. In earlier times the temple was very wealthy, as Homer states: "nor yet all the things which the stone threshold of the archer Phoebus Apollo enclosed in rocky Pytho." The treasure houses clearly indicate its wealth, and also the plundering done by the Phocians, which kindled the Phocian War, or Sacred War, as it is called. Now this plundering took place in the time of Philip, the son of Amyntas, although writers have a notion of another and earlier plundering, in ancient times, in which the wealth mentioned by Homer was carried out of the temple. For, they add, not so much as a trace of it was saved down to those later times in which Onomarchus and his army, and Phayllus and his army, robbed the temple; but the wealth then carried away was more recent than that mentioned by Homer; for there were deposited in treasure houses offerings dedicated from spoils of war, preserving inscriptions on which were included the names of those who dedicated them; for instance, Gyges, Croesus, the Sybarites, and the Spinetae who lived near the Adriatic, and so with the rest. And it would not be reasonable to suppose that the treasures of olden times were mixed up with these, as indeed is clearly indicated by other places that were ransacked by these men. Some, however, taking "aphetor" to mean "treasure-house," and "threshold of the aphetor"to mean "underground repository of the treasure-house,"say that that wealth was buried in the temple, and that Onomarchus and his army attempted to dig it up by night, but since great earthquakes took place they fled outside the temple and stopped their digging, and that their experience inspired all others with fear of making a similar attempt.
  Of the temples, the one "with wings" must be placed among the myths; the second is said to be the work of Trophonius and Agamedes; and the present temple was built by the Amphictyons. In the sacred precinct is to be seen the tomb of Neoptolemus, which was made in accordance with an oracle, Machaereus, a Delphian, having slain him because, according to the myth, he was asking the god for redress for the murder of his father; but according to all probability it was because he had attacked the temple. Branchus, who presided over the temple at Didyma, is called a descendant of Machaereus (Strab. 9,3,4-9).
  Ephorus, whom I am using more than any other authority because, as Polybius, a noteworthy writer, testifies, he exercises great care in such matters, seems to me sometimes to do the opposite of what he intended, and at the outset promised, to do. At any rate, after censuring those who love to insert myths in the text of their histories, and after praising the truth, he adds to his account of this oracle a kind of solemn promise, saying that he regards the truth as best in all cases, but particularly on this subject; for it is absurd, he says, if we always follow such a method in dealing with every other subject, and yet, when speaking of the oracle which is the most truthful of all, go on to use the accounts that are so untrustworthy and false. Yet, though he says this, he adds forthwith that historians take it for granted that Apollo, with Themis, devised the oracle because he wished to help our race; and then, speaking of the helpfulness of it, he says that Apollo challenged men to gentleness and inculcated self control by giving out oracles to some, commanding them to do certain things and forbidding them to do other things, and by absolutely refusing admittance to other consultants. Men believe that Apollo directs all this, he says, some believing that the god himself assumes a bodily form, others that he transmits to human beings a knowledge of his own will.
  A little further on, when discussing who the Delphians were, he says that in olden times certain Parnassians who were called indigenous inhabited Parnassus; and that at this time Apollo, visiting the land, civilized the people by introducing cultivated fruits and cultured modes of life; and that when he set out from Athens to Delphi he went by the road which the Athenians now take when they conduct the Pythias; and that when he arrived at the land of the Panopaeans he destroyed Tityus, a violent and lawless man who ruled there; and that the Parnassians joined him and informed him of another cruel man named Python and known as the Dragon, and that when Apollo shot at him with his arrows the Parnassians shouted "Hie Paean" to encourage him (the origin, Ephorus adds, of the singing of the Paean which has been handed down as a custom for armies just before the clash of battle) and that the tent of Python was burnt by the Delphians at that time, just as they still burn it to this day in remembrance of what took place at that time. But what could be more mythical than Apollo shooting with arrows and punishing Tityuses and Pythons, and travelling from Athens to Delphi and visiting the whole earth? But if Ephorus did not take these stories for myths, by what right did he call the mythological Themis a woman, and the mythological Dragon a human being--unless he wished to confound the two types, history and myth? Similar to these statements are also those concerning the Aetolians; for after saying that from all time their country had been unravaged, he at one time says that Aeolians took up their abode there, having ejected the barbarians who were in possession of it, and at another time that Aetolus together with the Epeii from Elis took up their abode there, but that these were destroyed by the Aeolians, and that these latter were destroyed by Alcmaeon and Diomedes. But I return to the Phocians (Strab. 9,3,11-12).

This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

Diodorus Siculus

  Then the king (Xerxes) passed through the territory of the Dorians, doing it no harm since they were allies of the Persians. Here he left behind a portion of his army and ordered it to proceed to Delphi, to burn the precinct of Apollo and to carry off the votive offerings, while he advanced into Boeotia with the rest of the barbarians and encamped there. The force that had been dispatched to sack the oracle had proceeded as far as the shrine of Athena Pronaea, but at that spot a great thunderstorm, accompanied by incessant lightning, suddenly burst from the heavens, and more than that, the storm wrenched loose huge rocks and hurled them into the host of the barbarians; the result was that large numbers of the Persians were killed and the whole force, dismayed at the intervention of the gods, fled from the region. So the oracle of Delphi, with the aid of some divine Providence, escaped pillage. And the Delphians, desiring to leave to succeeding generations a deathless memorial of the appearance of the gods among men, set up beside the temple of Athena Pronaea a trophy on which they inscribed the following elegiac lines:

To serve as a memorial to war,
The warder-off of men, and as a witness
To victory the Delphians set me up,
Rendering thanks to Zeus and Phoebus who
Thrust back the city-sacking ranks of Medes
And threw their guard about the bronze-crowned shrine.

This extract is from: Diodorus Siculus, Library (ed. C. H. Oldfather, 1989). Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


  ...So with all speed the Greeks went their several ways to meet the enemy (Xerxes, prior to the battle at Artemisium). In the meantime, the Delphians, who were afraid for themselves and for Hellas, consulted the god. They were advised to pray to the winds, for these would be potent allies for Hellas. When they had received the oracle, the Delphians first sent word of it to those Greeks who desired to be free; because of their dread of the barbarian, they were forever grateful. Subsequently they erected an altar to the winds at Thyia, the present location of the precinct of Thyia the daughter of Cephisus, and they offered sacrifices to them. This, then, is the reason why the Delphians to this day offer the winds sacrifice of propitiation...
  Their voluntary consultation of the god, "on behalf of Hellas and themselves"? was much to the credit of the Delphians; their craven fear was fully shared by all the Hellenes "who had a mind to be free", at least so the Delphians appear to have said.
  Clemens Alex. Strom. 6. 753 professes to give the exact words of the response... The winds would not do the army much harm; the oracle concerns the fleet. In itself there is nothing very improbable in such a behest, though it is not a very valiant or creditable one. But in view of the evidences regarding the attitude and position of Delphi before and during the war, and in view of the event, it seems more probable that we have here too an instance of the vaticinium post eventum. Hdt. is sceptical about the powers of the Magi to lay the wind, but he has apparently no misgivings as to the ability of the Greeks to raise it.
  This service of the Delphians, in an hexameter, had been recorded in poem, or epigram, before Hdt. came by it. The testimonial was composed, or at least erected, by the Delphians, in their own honour: one way of writing history! Hdt. is guileless in the matter.
  That the Cult of the Winds at Thyia dated from, or after, the Persian invasion is plainly asserted in this passage; but this new departure can hardly have been the first institution of Windworship, but was rather an attempt to give Pan-hellenic significance, or at least Delphic sanction, to much more ancient practices. The sacrifice of the Magi to the Wind is connected indirectly with Ionian, or rather Aiolian legend, and the Wmds of "the Thrakian sea", Boreas and Zephyros, are Homeric personalities in the Iliad (9. 5, 23, 229 f.), while in the Odyssey, if they are treated with less respect, yet Aiolos, their keeper, is a decidedly supernatural person (Od. 10. 1 ff.). It is not, however, in the Olympian direction that the origines of the cult is to be found: the winds, anemoi, aellai, or thuellai, are primitively connected with the dead, the departed "spirits", the chthonian cults. Thus even in the Patrokleia Achilles invokes Boreas and Zephyros, (Il. 23. 195 f.), and in the legend of Menelaos preserved by Hdt. 2. 119 the winds are propitiated by human sacrifice, and though the sacrifice of Iphigeneia is not Homeric, and is, in its earliest litcrary form, a homage not to the Winds, but to Artemis, yet the Vergilian formula (Sanguine placastis ventos et virgine caesa, etc., Aen. 2. 116 ff.), probably comes nearer to the primitive idea and cult. The intention of the Herodotean stories seems, at first sight, not to go much beyond raising (or quelling) a storm, and so, indirectly, causing a destruction of the enemy, or vice versa; but the terminology nevertheless suggests a chthonian cult, and the notion that the Winds are summoned to dissipate or carry to the underworld the ghosts of the combatants is not to be wholly rejected.

This extract is from: Herodotus. The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley, 1920), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

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