'Meeting the Oracle at Delphi' first posted on my blog From The Corner Table
Fans of Greek mythology have often been fascinated with 'the Oracle'. And with yours truly and the elder sister being 'almost fans', we were giddy with delight when the brother-in-law pointed out that the famed seat of Pythia the Oracle, said to have been consulted for all important decisions in ancient times, was just a few hours away in Delphi. The tiny town was built around the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos, two ancient sanctuaries built on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. It should be noted that Delphi is recognised by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
For the uninitiated, this Oracle is not the one from the Matrix trilogy. As per everyone's favourite Wikipedia, the Oracle was "a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods". Pythia was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and also renowned as the Oracle of Delphi.
Historical evidences suggest ancient Delphi was the place of worship for Gaia, the goddess connected with fertility. The town and temple gained popularity in the 7 th century BC.
Winding roads to history
A day after trudging up and down the Acropolis of Athens, walking through the Athenian Agora and generally over-eating during an evening meal only to follow up with a traditional Greek dinner, the troika decided to venture out of Athens towards Delphi for a day trip.
Reaching Delphi from Athens is pretty much a breeze. Unless you prefer to drive up and down the mountainous roads, just head to Terminal B of Liossion Street Bus Terminal and hop onto one of the buses. Tickets are available at the terminal booking office. You can pick up a schedule from any tourism office in the city or check with the enquiry at the Acropolis of Athens. These buses take around 3 to 3.5 hours to reach Delphi and the journey is a visual delight. For those battling motion sickness, I recommend popping some pills to avoid a queasy ride.
There are stories galore that make the history of Delphi enchanting but one of the most interesting of stories is how the town came to be the location for the Omphalos or the 'navel of the world'. Legends say Zeus - ruler of the Olympian gods - wanted to find the centre of the earth. So he sent two eagles soaring from the west and the east and kept a lookout for the point where the paths of the two birds converged. This point was Delphi where one found the 'navel' of the world.
The Omphalos - or perhaps a copy of it - is ensconced in the Delphi Archaeological Museum along with several other artefacts unearthed during the excavation of the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos of Delphi. Most of the relics that have survived are believed to have been from the 6th century BC, one of the most dynamic times of the town.