Perhaps one of the most famous prophecies uttered by the Oracle of Delphi is that of Croesus’ defeat by the Persian Empire. According to Herodotus, Croesus, the king of the Lydians wanted to know if he should wage war on the fledging Persian Empire. The reply he got was that he would destroy a great empire if he attacked Persia. Satisfied with this answer, Croesus prepared to invade Persia. Little did Croesus know that the ‘great empire’ referred to by the Oracle was not that of Persia, but his own. The rest, as they say, is history. While the authenticity of this story may be questionable, what is certain is that the Oracle of Delphi did exist.
Situated on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis, Delphi was associated with the Greek god Apollo. According to legend, the hill was guarded by a giant serpent called Python, who was a follower of the cult of Gaia (Earth), for hundreds of years. After killing Python, Apollo claimed Delphi as his own sanctuary. Perhaps this legend was a reflection of actual events. During the Mycenaean period (14th-11th centuries B.C.), there were small settlements in Delphi dedicated to the Mother Earth deity. Subsequently, the worship of Apollo was established between the 11th and 9th centuries B.C. By the 8th century B.C., Delphi was already renowned internationally for the prophetic powers of the Pythia. Yet, it was only in the following century that the Oracle became a Panhellenic institution, when Apollo’s advice was sought by the Greek cities on important matters of state.
The Pythia was the name given to any priestess throughout the history of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The priestess was a woman over fifty years of age, lived apart from her husband, and dressed in a maiden’s clothes. According to Plutarch, who once served as a priest at Delphi, the Pythia first enters the inner chamber of the temple (Adyton). Then, she sits on a tripod and inhales the light hydrocarbon gasses that escape from a chasm on the porous earth. This observation can be confirmed by modern geologists. After falling into a trance, she mutters words incomprehensible to mere mortals. These words are then interpreted by the priests of the sanctuary in a common language and delivered to those who had requested them. Nevertheless, the oracles were always open to interpretation and often signified dual and opposing meanings. This can clearly be seen in the case of Croesus. Yet, there are many other instances where the prophecies of the Pythia were ambiguous as well.
“Priestess of Delphi”, by John Collier. Photo source: Wikimedia.
For instance, according to Herodotus, one of the oracles given to the Athenians during the Persian invasion of 480 B.C. was “Far-seeing Zeus gives you, Tritogeneia (Athena) a wall of wood, / Only this will stand intact and help you and your children.” (Herodotus, The Histories, 7.141). While some Athenians interpreted this literally and concluded that the prophecy referred to the survival of the Athenian Acropolis (it was surrounded by a protective stockade in times past), other regarded the “wall of wood” as ships. However, the latter interpretation failed to make sense of the last two lines of the prophecy, “Blessed Salamis, you will be the death of mothers’ sons / Either when the seed is scattered or when it is gathered in”. According to the official interpretation, if the Athenians were to engage the Persians in a naval battle, they were destined to lose. Despite this seemingly inauspicious omen, an Athenian commander called Themistocles decided to challenge the oracle by arguing that if the Athenians were doomed, the tone of the oracle would have been harsher. The Athenians were convinced, perhaps not by Themistocles’ interpretation, but by the fact that it would be better to fight the Persians, rather than not do anything, as seemingly suggested by the Oracle. As you may have guessed, the Athenians gained a decisive victory over the Persians, and was a turning point of the second Persian invasion of Greece.
So, the next time you’re tempted to believe in prophecies, remember the story of Croesus, and the Athenian ‘wall of wood’. In the latter, the misinterpretation of a prophecy caused Croesus’ downfall, and demonstrates the challenges involved in interpreting prophetic statements. In the latter, by defying the prophecy of the Oracle and taking their fate into their own hands, the Greeks were able to turn the tide against the Persians, and saved themselves from destruction.
Featured image: "Delphic Oracle" Painting by Heinrich Leutemann. Image source: art-prints-on-demand.com
ReferencesAncient-Greece.org, 2014. Delphi. [Online] Available at: http://www.ancient-greece.org/history/delphi.html [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2014. Oracle. [Online] Available at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/430708/oracle#ref207522 [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Herodotus, The Histories,[Waterfield, R. (trans.), 1998. Herodotus’ The Histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mark, J. J., 2009. Croesus. [Online] Available at: http://www.ancient.eu.com/croesus/ [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Plutarch, Moralia, [Babbitt, F. C. (trans.), 1936. Plutarch’s Moralia. London: Heinemann.]
Roach, J., 2001. Delphic Oracle's Lips May Have Been Loosened by Gas Vapors. [Online] Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/08/0814_delphioracle.html [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Wikipedia, 2014. Delphi. [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Wikipedia, 2014. List of oracular statements from Delphi. [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oracular_statements_from_Delphi [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Wikipedia, 2014. Pythia. [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythia [Accessed 6 May 2014].
I liked this book very much! and luckily I could go strait into the 2nd one "The Delphi Deception" which I enjoyed too and now I am waiting for the next one to see to where Mr. Everheart will take me this time. The plot is so fast acting that you can't leave the book, cuz you really carious to find what next.
But before I'll go into the plot itself a few tings that i found and I think it really important facts before starting the reading itself:
*"The name Delphoi comes from the same root as delphys, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia, Grandmother Earth, and the Earth Goddess at the site. Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Delphinios, "the Delphinian". The epithet is connected with dolphins .
**Apollo's sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic precursors of the Modern Olympics.
***Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and became a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python, a dragon 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 Python which Apollo defeated).
***Apollo spoke through his oracle: the sibyl or priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia- Though little is known of how the priestess was chosen, she had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the citizens of the area.(e.g. can come from very well educated and noble family as well as from a poor or peasant family). The Pythia was probably selected, at the death of her predecessor, from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple.According to Plutarch said that the Pythia's life was shortened through the service of Apollo. The sessions were said to be exhausting. At the end of each period the Pythia would be like a runner after a race or a dancer after an ecstatic dance, which may have had a physical effect on the health of the Pythia. She sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. It has been speculated that a gas high in ethylene, known to produce violent trances, came out of this opening, though this theory remains debatable. While in a trance the Pythia "raved" – probably a form of ecstatic speech – and her ravings were "translated" by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters. People consulted the Delphic oracle on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs. The oracle could not be consulted during the winter months, for this was traditionally the time when Apollo would live among the Hyperboreans.
****Pneuma is an ancient Greek word for "breath," and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul. In ancient Greek medicine, pneuma is the form of circulating air necessary for the systemic functioning of vital organs. It is the material that sustains consciousness in a body. This was the only thing that Mr. Everheart took some liberty and change the meaning.... and I don't care because its done so nicely with some good criticism to the pharmaceutical industry.
The book it very well written and as I said in the beginning it is a fast reading full of action the character of Zach is very likeable - smart young kiddo. The other figure that will intrigue you will be Larry.As for females from some reason I found myself like Katie more then Ashley.
My Review :
Well I didn't change my mind - just love it....
It is smart fast enjoyable plot (please, read my previous review).... the characters that I like in the 1st book ... I still like....
and yes .... expect very interesting twists in the plot....
Mr. Everheart - I am glade that you use the fable of the frog and the scorpion.... and beside my love to fables it is so right to use them in connection to this book.
Night of Pan,
by Gail StricklandGenre: young-adult, historical-fantasyPublisher: Curiosity Quills PressDate of Release: November 7, 2014Series: Book One of The Oracle of Delphi TrilogyCover Artist: Ricky Gunawan
The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE—when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard—is well known. But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?
Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her.
And the gods have plans for this girl.
When Xerxes’ army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.
Her destiny may be to save Greece…
…but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army
RealityWhat did the Ancients think about Reality? And what can we learn from them?
The 5th Century Oracle of Elea Parmenides said we travel “all through all there is” and that “what-is is—un-generated and imperishable; whole, single-limbed, steadfast and complete; nor was it once; nor will it be, since it is, now, altogether, One, continuous.” (Trans. Peter Kingsley, REALITY, 2004)
What in the world does this mean? The philosopher Heraclitus said, “From all things one and from one all things.” He believed in the cyclic and ever-changing appearances of reality. But can it be argued as in the essay out of the University at Albany that Parmenides and Heraclitus are saying the same thing? “What Parmenides was after, then, is the truth behind appearances, and what he was saying is that becoming and change are merely appearances; true being is changeless.”
Plato, a Greek philosopher born around 428 BCE, discussed the distinction between the ever-changing world we perceive with our five senses and what he refers to in his Dialogues in The Republic as the unchanging and unseen world of forms. In The Republic, Plato’s mentor Socrates expresses the most concrete and famous explanation of the contrast between the apparent reality we perceive with our senses and the archetypal world of form in The Allegory of the Cave. This allegory is written as a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates.
As related by Socrates, our human existence is imagined to be like prisoners in a dank, dark cave, chained in such a way that throughout our entire lives we can only see the stonewall before us. Imagine that shadows are cast on the blank wall by objects passing before a fire behind us. For us, these shadows are reality. We give the shadows names and relate to them with our emotions. Now imagine a brave philosopher escapes the chains, turns around and sees the fire’s light and the people, animals, trees and pottery that create the shadows. Would the prisoners who still only see the shadows on the wall believe the one who escaped, the one who sees the fire and the forms passing before the firelight? And if that escaped prisoner leaves the cave and steps outside to stare blindly at the wild and brilliant sun, will the prisoners ever believe what he describes is beyond the cave walls or—or in our case—what is beyond in our universe? For Plato has Socrates explain that it is the duty of the philosopher—even risking death because of the misguided prisoners’ fear—to return to the dark cave and tell the others that they are watching shadows. Galileo was placed on house arrest for the rest of his life, because he explained the earth circles around the sun. Socrates was murdered by the state, given a hemlock cocktail for “corrupting the youth,” when he urged them to understand that outside the cave is the light: the Good … and later philosophers say… the One.
Which circles us back to the idea expressed by Parmenides that true being is changeless. And that sounds a lot like some theories we find from modern physicists, when they attempt to prove that we live in an holographic universe, a universe perhaps in which we are only seeing “the shadows on the cave wall” cast by a light we do not see or understand.
Night of Pan is almost completely based on history. While Thaleia, my young Oracle of Delphi is a fictional character, her prophesies about the Persian invasion 480 BCE are all based on real oracles declared by a young girl who was a respected seer. We know about her from translations from the famous Greek historian Herodotus. That's one of the amazing things about all this! The Pythia-Oracle actually declared all those prophecies, and an entire civilization listened.You may have heard about the million Persians invading and defeating the three hundred Spartan warriors at Thermopylae ... all in my book.
When King Leonidas of the Spartans asked the Oracle what he should do about the invaders, she answered, "Either a great king or a great kingdom will die." Many historians believe that is the primary reason King Leonidas sent most of the soldiers away and sacrificed himself and his elite guard of three hundred. He thought it was the only way to save his kingdom--by sacrificing his own life.
When the Persian army was only a day’s march away, the citizens of Delphi came to the young Oracle and asked if they should hide the women and children and treasures. She answered, "Trust Apollo, he will protect his own."
What really blows me away is that they listened to her and did exactly what she said. This is true history. Incredible. When the Persians marched through the narrow mountain path into Delphi, there was a huge earthquake and thunderstorm. King Xerxes and his army ran away never to return, because they were convinced that the gods were against them. Do you find that as amazing as I do? There were four prophecies in all about the Persians invading, and I have incorporated them throughout my book.
Many of the characters in Night of Pan are also out of history. Parmenides, the wise seer, was real. He lived around 480 BCE and many of the words I have him speak are based on translations of fragments that were found in southern Greece. Valmiki
You Can't Kill the SongThere’s a secret I want to share with you that I learned from the ancient Greeks. In fact, I first learned it from Homer, the blind poet. I found it in the first three words of his epic poem, The Iliad. Some of you may groan: I read that book in high school or for humanities in college. It’s filled with death and gore and long lists of dead heroes. That’s all true. But there are those three short words at the beginning of the 15,000 lines that make up his story of the Greeks at Troy fighting for the return of beautiful Helen, fighting even the gods: Menin aeida thea … sing to us goddess of the wrath.
Now, Homer didn’t say, “Yo! Send me a text message. Or even … just email me about that anger of Achilles.”
He asked the goddess to sing about the wrath of Achilles. And that was not a mistake. That was not even just an idle phrase that Homer used without really thinking about it. And this is where young men and women will undoubtedly understand better than older folk. Homer asked the goddess to sing the entire song of Achilles, all 15,000 lines because ancient Greece was a song culture, a world in which they knew in their hearts the universal language and power of song. Young people know this. Whether it’s Adele singing, “There’s a fire, burning in my heart.” Or Mick Jagger singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction” it’s the same as the Greek song culture.
The Greeks called it thumos—Heart. Longing. Yearning.
The younger generation usually lives that way. They live by their hearts. They understand the power and secret knowledge that is found between the words, in the magic of the music’s yearning shared between the performer and the audience. But as we grow older, as we worry about mortgages and bills and aching muscles, some of us forget to listen to the song surrounding us.
We’ve all felt it. Do you remember? That’s the reason songs we first heard when we were thirteen or fifteen will always fill us in a way that stays with us our entire lives. And the secret is, that music fills us with the longing and yearning of youth, with the direct connection we felt in our bodies to the music.
There was a wise Oracle who lived in southern Italy in the fifth century BCE. He was so powerful, that his followers claimed he was an Iomantris—a healer who could cross the veil between Life and Death. He could travel to the Underworld and return whenever he wanted. That man’s name was Parmenides. He wrote that thumos carries us “all through all there is.” Thumos is yearning and heart and longing. It brings us together in community. It urges us to write songs and poetry and books. It’s the reason man walked on the moon.
I want to share a secret with you. A secret understood by the ancient Greek song culture that survived for over two thousand years: You can’t kill the song—that power caught in the subtle resonance between musical notes and words, between the artist and the audience. That song is heart and yearning … it is everything. It will lead us to the stars. It will guide us to ourselves.
So, don’t text me or email me. Walk along a dark sand beach beside the sea and let’s sing and dance together … and don’t ever let anyone kill your song.
(Oracle of Delphi #1)
Publication date: March 1st 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology,
Synopsis:She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.
Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. With the onslaught of prescription medications and therapists threatening to push her over the edge, she wishes for a life far away from the one she has, a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.
Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.
After living through an attack from her worst nightmare, she awakens to find herself far from home, surrounded by glorious riches and servants…and a few demigods who enjoy killing things. Upon learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future, and the great Pythia that the gods have been anxiously awaiting to arrive for centuries.Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given and to keep her family safe from a demigod Princess that wants her dead, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters, evading divine assassins and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. In the hopes of discovering the Most Beautiful and the truth of her destiny, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.