1. The most powerful and respected oracle in the ancient world was to be found in Central Greece in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. To the ancient Greeks, Delphi was the centre of the world. According to Legend, Zeus, father of the gods, released two eagles from the opposite ends of the world and where they met –– at Delphi – was judged the centre and marked by a stone called the oniphalos or novel. Around 1400 B.C, Delphi was a sacred site dedicated to the earth goddess Gaia. Legend relates that the place was marked by a large python which Apollo, son of Zeus, killed. Apollo then set–up his oracle on the site, with a priestess, known as the Pythia the medium. In the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., during the height of the Oracle’s popularity, thousands of pilgrims, rich and poor, made the journey to consult Apollo through the Pythia.
2. In the inner sanctum of the temple, the Pythia sat on a sacred gold tripod placed over a deep crack in the earth. She was a local, middle-aged woman who would utter the oracle through a series of frenzied and incoherent sounds made while she was in a trance-like state, induced by chewing bay leaves or by inhaling the toxic volcanic vapours that rose from the chasm at her feet.
3. Questioners were first required to purify themselves in the waters of the Castalian spring nearby. Then followed a ritual in which a goat was sprinkled with cold water; if the goat trembled all over, it could be sacrificed and the God petitioned. The pilgrim paid his fee and presented his question, written on a tablet, to the attendant male priest, who then submitted it to the Pythia. Her garbled reply, delivered in a voice not her own, was interpreted by a priest, who gave the answer in verse to the supplicant. At the height of the Oracle’s popularity, three priestesses were required to cope with all the queries.
4. The Delphic oracle was consulted on political matters particularly the establishment of Greek colonies as well as on everyday issues such as marriage, fertility or money problems. Sometimes the Oracle’s pronouncements were straightforward; for instance, Socrates was told that he was the wisest man in Greece. However, many of Oracle’s replies were not. The king went ahead and attacked Persia, but it was his own empire that was destroyed.
Attempt the following questions on the basis of the passage you have read:
(a) According to legend, the father of the gods was __________.
Correct Option is (i) Zeus
(b) Appollo, son of Zeus, killed a large __________.
Correct Option is (ii) python
(c) To the ancient Greeks, Delphi was not the centre of the world. (True/False)
(d) The attendant male priest took the question from the pilgrim who then presented it to Pythia. (True/False)
(e) The oracle became popular because only rich pilgrims started visiting the place to consult Apollo. (True/False)
(f) Pythia, the priestess sat over ___________ in the inner sanctum of the temple.
a golden tripod
(g) Pilgrims were asked to purify themselves in the waters of __________.
the Castalian spring nearby
(h) Find the word from the passage which means the same as “considered to be holy”. (para 1)