ODE TO THE PAST (with the occasional nod to the present)

Apollo's Oracle

May 29, 2015

Tags: ancient greece, apollo, delphi, oracle, pythia, archaeology, archaeological thrillers

In honor of the upcoming release of The Oracle (November 2015), I'd like to share a few tidbits from my research. In Greek antiquity, the Delphic oracle was manifested in a woman from the mountain town of Delphi who was "chosen," probably in early youth, for her purity and good character. Pythia, as she was known, was tended to by other women and kept in good health and hygiene, for she was to utter the most sacred prophecies of the god Apollo.

The faithful, the battle-torn, the haggard, and the just plain curious would gather in Delphi, at the entrance of Apollo's temple, whose pediment was inscribed with the words "Know Thyself." And they would wait. And wait. And wait, until the priestess emerged from the mountain mists, in an altered state (probably induced by herbs or vapors issuing from the earth), to deliver her prophecies, to answer questions.

According to the myths, she was communing with Apollo, who was able to divine the future, being a god and all. Pythia would appear before the gathered and take her place on a bronze tripod set on the edge of a chasm in the rugged mountainside. Then the show would begin.

Warriors wanted to know the outcome of an upcoming battle. The ill wanted to be cured. Men of letters sought words of wisdom. All this, and more, the priestess would deliver. Sometimes her prophecies were brutal, but, it is said, they were always accurate.

Archaeological findings show the temple of Apollo at Delphi was built in the eighth century B.C.E. The earliest oracles, according to contextual evidence in the written texts, were delivered sometime between the ninth and seventh centuries B.C.E., so science and literature agree--in this case, anyway.

Selected Works

Historical Fiction
A story of passion and betrayal, faith and sacrifice, and the fall of an empire.
Thrillers
Sarah Weston uncovers a long-lost Greek artifact--and a plot to build the ultimate terrorist weapon.
Sarah Weston races to uncover an ancient message with explosive implications for modern Israel.
The first in a series of archaeological thrillers featuring gritty aristocrat Sarah Weston.

Quick Links