Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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9.3.3

We have remarked, that Parnassus itself is situated on the western boundaries of Phocis. The western side of this mountain is occupied by the Locri Ozolæ; on the southern is Delphi, a rocky spot, resembling in shape a theatre; on its summit is the oracle, and also the city, which comprehends a circle of 16 stadia. Above it lies Lycoreia; here the Delphians were formerly settled above the temple. At present they live close to it around the Castalian fountain. In front of the city, on the southern part, is Cirphis, a precipitous hill, leaving in the intermediate space a wooded ravine, through which the river Pleistus flows. Below Cirphis near the sea is Cirrha, an ancient city, from which there is an ascent to Delphi of about 80 stadia. It is situated opposite to Sicyon. Adjoining to Cirrha is the fertile Crisæan plain. Again, next in order follows another city Crisa, from which the Crissæan Gulf has its name; then Anticyra, [Note] of the same name as the city, on the Maliac Gulf, and near æta. The best hellebore is said to grow in the Maliac Anticyra, [Note] but here it is prepared in a better manner; on this account many persons resort hither for the purpose of experiencing its purgative qualities, and of being cured of their maladies. In the Phocian territory there is found a medicinal plant, resembling Sesamum, (Sesamoides,) with which the Œtæan hellebore is prepared. 9.3.4

Anticyra still remains, but Cirrha and Crisa [Note] are in ruins; Cirrha was destroyed by the Criseeans; and Crisa, afterwards, by Eurylochus the Thessalian, in the Crisæan war; for the Crisæi enriched themselves by duties levied on merchandise brought from Sicily and Italy, and laid grievous imposts on those who resorted to the temple, contrary to the decrees of the Amphictyons. The same was the case with the Amphissenses, who belong to the Locri Ozolæ. This people made an irruption into the country, and took possession of Crisa, and restored it. The plain, which had been consecrated

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by the Amphictyons, was diligently cultivated, but strangers were more harshly treated than by the Crisæans before them. The Amphictyons punished them and restored the territory to the god. The temple at Delphi is now much neglected, although formerly it was held in the greatest veneration. Proofs of the respect which was paid to it are, the treasuries constructed at the expense of communities and princes, where was deposited the wealth dedicated to sacred uses, the works of the most eminent artists, the Pythian games, and a multitude of celebrated oracles. 9.3.5

The place where the oracle is delivered, is said to be a deep hollow cavern, the entrance to which is not very wide. From it rises up an exhalation which inspires a divine frenzy: over the mouth is placed a lofty tripod on which the Pythian priestess ascends to receive the exhalation, after which she gives the prophetic response in verse or prose. The prose is adapted to measure by poets who are in the service of the temple. Phemonoë is said to have been the first Pythian prophetess, and both the prophetess and the city obtained their appellation from the word Pythesthai, to inquire, (πυθέσθαι). The first syllable was lengthened, as in the words ἀθάνατος ἀκάματος διάκονος.

[Note][The establishment of cities, and the honour paid to common temples, are due to the same feelings and causes. Men were collected together into cities and nations, from a natural disposition to society, and for the purpose of mutual assistance. Hence common temples were resorted to, festivals celebrated, and meetings held of the general body of the people. For friendship commences from and is promoted by attending the same feasts, uniting in the same worship, and dwelling under the same roof. The advantages derived from these meetings were naturally estimated from the number of persons who attended them, as also from the number of places from whence they came.] 9.3.6

Although the highest honour was paid to this temple on account of the oracle, (for it was the most exempt of any from deception,) yet its reputation was owing in part to its situation in the centre of all Greece, both within and without the isthmus. It was also supposed to be the centre of the habitable

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earth, and was called the Navel of the earth. A fable, referred to by Pindar, was invented, according to which two eagles, (or, as others say, two crows,) set free by Jupiter, one from the east, the other from the west, alighted together at Delphi. In the temple is seen a sort of navel wrapped in bands, and surmounted by figures representing the birds of the fable. 9.3.7

As the situation of Delphi is convenient, persons easily assembled there, particularly those from the neighbourhood, of whom the Amphictyonic body is composed. It is the business of this body to deliberate on public affairs, and to it is more particularly intrusted the guardianship of the temple for the common good; for large sums of money were deposited there, and votive offerings, which required great vigilance and religious care. The early history of this body is unknown, but among the names which are recorded, Acrisius appears to have been the first who regulated its constitution, to have determined what cities were to have votes in the council, and to have assigned the number of votes and mode of voting. To some cities he gave a single vote each, or a vote to two cities, or to several cities conjointly. He also defined the class of questions which might arise between the different cities, which were to be submitted to the decision of the Amphictyonic tribunal; and subsequently many other regulations were made, but this body, like that of the Achæans, was finally dissolved.

At first twelve cities are said to have assembled, each of which sent a Pylagoras. The convention was held twice a year, in spring and autumn. But latterly a greater number of cities assembled. They called both the vernal and the autumnal convention Pylæan, because it was held at Pyle, which has the name also of Thermopylæ. The Pylagoræ sacrificed to Ceres.

In the beginning, the persons in the neighbourhood only assembled, or consulted the oracle, but afterwards people repaired thither from a distance for this purpose, sent gifts, and constructed treasuries, as Crœsus, and his father Alyattes, some of the Italians also, and the Siceli (Sicilians).



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.3.2 Str. 9.3.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.3.9

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