7 September 2022. The Delphic Sanctuary (Part 1)
After our tour of the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, we made a quick pit stop and loaded up on water. While we focused on relics and sites, Michael P. had decided to concentrate on the Cats of Greece. He found a very pretty white one right outside the museum entrance.
Before and after we entered the gate, I took a number of photos of the area surrounding the Sanctuary (see photos below). I know that I keep saying this, but Delphi is just spectacularly beautiful.
I covered the origins of the Delphi sanctuary in my last post, but I thought that I’d add just a bit more here. The name of Apollo Delphinios, or Delphic Apollo, also recalls the legend which speaks of the first priests who Apollo brought to serve Him at Delphi. The story goes that they were brought from Crete on the backs of dolphins (in Greek, δελφίνι). It should be noted that dolphins are sacred to Dionysos, the other major God of this sanctuary.
“Straightway large-eyed queenly Hera took him [Typhaon] and bringing one evil thing to another such, gave him to the Drakaina; and she received him. And this Typhaon used to work great mischief among the famous tribes of men. Whosoever met the Drakaina, the day of doom would sweep him away, until the lord Apollon, who deals death from afar, shot a strong arrow at her. Then she, rent with bitter pangs, lay drawing great gasps for breath and rolling about that place. An awful noise swelled up unspeakable as she writhed continually this way and that amid the wood: and so she left her life, breathing it forth in blood. Then Phoibos Apollon boasted over her: ‘Now rot here upon the soil that feeds man! You at least shall live no more to be a fell bane to men who eat the fruit of the all-nourishing earth, and who will bring hither perfect hecatombs. Against cruel death neither Typhoios shall avail you nor ill-famed Khimaira, but here, shall the Earth and shining Hyperion make you rot.’Homeric Hymn 3 to Apollo 356 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.)
Thus said Phoibos, exulting over her: and darkness covered her eyes. And the holy strength of Helios made her rot away there; wherefore the place is now called Pytho, and men call the lord Apollon by another name, Pythian; because on that spot the power of piercing Helios made the monster rot away.”
The map below will (hopefully) allow the reader to make sense of the following photos. Delphi is by far the most complex site that we will explore on this trip through Greece.
MAP KEY: 1.Temple of Apollo. 2.Altar of Apollo (Altar of the Chians). 3.Halos. 4.Bouleuterion. 5.Prytaneion. 6.Theatre. 7.Sanctuary of Dionysus. 8.Sanctuary of Gaea. 9.Sanctuary of Neoptolemos. 10.Lesche of the Knidians. 11.Stoa of the Athenians. 12.Stoa of Attalus. 13.West Stoa. 14.Treasury of the Athenians. 15.Treasury of the Siphnians. 16.Treasury of the Sicyonians. 17.Treasury of the Aeolians. 18.Treasury of the Boeotians. 19.Treasury of the Knidians. 20.Treasury of the Korinthians. 21.Treasury of the Kyrenians. 22.Treasury of the Megarians. 23.Treasury of the Potidaeans. 24.Treasury of the Thebans. 25.Rock of Delphic Sibylla. 26.Column of Prusias II. 27.Column of Aemilius Paullus. 28.Column of Naxians. 29.Serpent column of Plataeae. 30.Daochos votive or Monument of Thessalians. 31.Monument of Krateros. 32.Chariot of Rhodians. 33.Exedra of the Kings of Argos. 34.Exedra of the Epigons. 35.Votive altar of Taras. 36.Votive altars of Athens, Arcadia, Argos and Sparta. 37.Bull of the Korkyrans. 38.Temenos Wall. 39.Roman Agora. 40.Sacred Road. 41.Road to the Stadium.
Section of the temenos wall (above). Roman agora outside the temenos entrance (right).
We entered through the site gate and proceeded along the path. To get to the Temple of Apollo, visitors today travel the same road as those in ancient Greece. We zig-zag up the hillside past treasuries and other votive dedications along the Sacred Way.
The path in places isn’t in the best of shape, while other portions appear to be up to current standards.
Above left, looking eastward from an exedra niche across from the Treasury of the Sikyonians. The path isn’t terrible here, but there are parts that can definitely cause an unsteady person to fall. Above right, new path past the Treasury of the Athenians showing the old path that it covers.
The Sacred Way leading up past the Treasury of the Athenians (top left). One of a number of Omphaloi stones found at the Sanctuary, this one located next to the Treasury of the Athenians (above). Michael P., Aaron, and Paul (in the distance) on the new portion of the Sacred Way leading to the Treasury of the Athenians (left).
“There is a rock rising up above the ground. On it, say the Delphians, there stood and chanted the oracles a woman, by name Herophile and surnamed Sibyl. The former Sibyl I find was as ancient as any; the Greeks say that she was a daughter of Zeus by Lamia, daughter of Poseidon, that she was the first woman to chant oracles, and that the name Sibyl was given her by the Libyans.” Pausanias, Description of Greece, Phocis and Ozolian Locri, chapter 12, section 1.
Somehow, I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to include the entire Sanctuary of Delphi in one posting. There’s simply too much ground to cover (both figuratively and literally). My next post will finish up the Sanctuary, including the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, and the Kastalian Spring. If you would like to read a comprehensive history of the site, I heartily recommend Dr. Michael Scott’s Delphi (right).
I’ll leave you with a video on ancient Delphi (below) also by Dr. Scott, who I follow on Facebook. Enjoy.
— Να εχεις μια ωραια μερα. —