Delphi

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Why
Delphi in Greece
is special

Delphi was one of the ancient world's most sacred sites. It was famous for its oracle. Today, Delphi is a remarkable complex of historical ruins.

The Oracle
of Delphi

Widely renowned

The Oracle at Delphi was easily the foremost one in ancient Greece. Common folks and kings from distant lands traveled to the site to have their questions answered by the Greek god Apollo.

How it worked

The Oracle was a several-step process:

 

Query

Visitors posed questions through a medium to Apollo. They could range from personal ("Should I plant more olive trees?") to serious matters of state.

 

Answer

Apollo's prophecy was heard by a designated priestess. She then incoherently mumbled it out loud while sitting on a tripod chair at the entrance to a cave. (Supposedly, the Temple of Apollo was built over that location, but archaeologists have yet to find it.)

 

Translation

Delphi priests would then translate the prophecy for the eagerly waiting pilgrim.

 

Purposely vague

The answer (oracle) was often purposely ambiguous to minimize the chances of it being wrong. A famous example:

The reply to a king's "Should my country battle the Persians?" query was "A great kingdom will be destroyed." The monarch thought that the noun referred to his enemy the Persian kingdom - and so he went to war. It turned out it was his kingdom that was destroyed.

Location in Greece

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