THE ANCIENT CITY OF DELPHI

HELPFUL LINKS

GOOGLE
PERSEUS
A-G'S DELPHI
MUNICIPALITY
MIN. OF CULTURE

 

 

The purpose of this exercise is for you, the student, to discover the ancient city of Delphi.  You will find some guidance here, but generally speaking you will have to find the answers on your own and anyway that you can.  There is no one way to learn this information.  Use books, the web, film, or any other resource you choose.  Regardless of how you learn the material, there is a certain body of knowledge that you must master.  Use the exercises scattered throughout this site to determine whether you are learning the correct information.  If not, go back to the drawing board.

 

Questions or problems?  Contact Kirk Summers, ksummers@ML.AS.UA.EDU

 

   
   
GETTING A FEEL FOR THE ANCIENT CITY AND ITS PRESENT STATE:  The ancients believed that Delphi was the center of the world, the one spot on earth where one could be assured of direct communication with the gods.  As such, it drew countless pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean area.  It was naturally a mysterious place, but it was also a complex place.  Not only did one find the oracle of Apollo there, but many other kinds of structures as well.  Start with panoramic views of the city as it exists today.  Then find as many reconstructions of the ancient city as you can find.  Take note of all the monuments, votive offerings (usually on the base remains), and treasuries. 
     
THE SIBYL:  The main reason for visiting Delphi was to consult the Sibyl for advice.  She functioned as the mouthpiece of Apollo, who possessed her in a mystical way and replied to the questions of pilgrims.  But how did she do it?  What kinds of tools did the Sibyl use to open herself up to receive Apollo, and how did she utter her responses?  It is important to understand that this is not pure myth.  There really was a Sibyl who performed her rites in the temple of Apollo.  She really did receive visitors.  Take the time to learn all you can about the Sibyl of Delphi (also called Pythia or Pythian Sibyl).  Don't confuse her with the Cumaean Sibyl!

EXERCISE 1:  After you have studied the methodologies of the Sibyl, test your knowledge with this activity. 

     
THE PILGRIMS:  As you would expect, there are several famous stories about people coming to Delphi for an oracle.  Some of these incidents are mythological, some are historical.  Learn all you can about these larger-than-life pilgrims who consulted the oracle and the response they received.  What is meant by "Loxian" Apollo?

EXERCISE 2:  Take this quiz on the Sibyl's oracular responses to certain important individuals. 

 

     
THE THOLOS:  There is an odd temple in rounded shape ("tholos") just outside the sacred precinct of Delphi.  Some attribute the temple to Gaia, others to Athena Pronaia.  What can you learn about this tholos temple at Delphi and what is the consensus about the divinity worshiped there? 
     
THE BUILDINGS:  You got a feel for the site of Delphi in step one.  Now take a look at some of the major individual buildings and structures.  You'll find treasuries, a forum, a stadium and theater, monuments and votive offerings, a stoa . . . what were all these buildings used for?

EXERCISE 3:  After you have studied the buildings of Delphi, see if you can place the proper ones in the sacred precinct. 

     
THE ARTIFACTS:  Look around the museum of Delphi (the "helpful links" above will be useful in this regard).  Most of the artifacts are in the form of votive offerings, that is, offerings given to the god in fulfillment of a vow made to him.  One can also find tools that were used in the sacred precinct.  What are the most striking finds at Delphi?