The role of the Delphic Oracle in the ancient world were multidimensional. By the end of the 9th century. e.g.. at least, shown the first signs of the worship of Apollo at Delphi and the start of the divination process, until the 4th century. a.d., given the well-known, ultimate, symbolic pseydochrismos to the Emperor Julian, For more than 1.200 years, the Delphi Oracle issued oracles and privately and City-States, influencing, as no other institution, the entire small and great ancient Greek history.
The great importance of the Oracle in the ancient world can be understood from the fact that from the 615 delfikoys our oracles have survived, the 73, i.e. percentage 12%, refer to the establishment of colonies, the 130, i.e. 21%, is political content and 185, i.e. 31%, public religious content is. From the total of oracles, the 388, i.e. the 64%, related topics directly related to the course of ancient Greek history.
Of Course, the influence of epikoille from season to season. Initially, the radiation was limited. The divination worship should even existed before the "arrival" of Apollo, and maybe that was the reason for which this God "settled" in Delphi. The divination process took place in a cave (antron), He had people's character and had not yet come under the control of State power. However, have found early votive offerings in the sanctuary, which, Apart from the main Greece, come from more distant regions, όπως, e.g., from Crete and Cyprus, and are indications for early dispersal of reputation of the Oracle.
Divination and colonization
The Oracle's reputation grew significantly with the role played by the great Greek colonization. Already by the middle of the 8th century. the conquest of the sea routes, trade, but mostly the major social and political problems created in Greek cities between warring aristocratic genera, led to the creation of colonies on the coast of the Mediterranean. For the colonization and specifically for sites that directed the colonists, for heads of every mission, on the chances of success of the project etc.. always asking the Oracle, whose contribution was instrumental.
Of course, the view that the Oracle had knowledge of the situation and even remote areas throughout the Mediterranean and could thus directs the wave of colonization is no longer accepted by the research. Today it is believed that all the preparatory work to send a colony had concerned themselves do City-States and had put these items in advance at the disposal of the priests. In this way the Oracle was under the auspices of Apollo and, of course, the decision covering the divine authority became more readily accepted by all, boylomenoys and non-. Thus, Delphi not only gave vent in stifling conditions that point were created mainly in Greece, but they created and important ties to the new colonies, making pole great influence throughout the Greek world.
Oracle and international relations
During the 7th and 6th BC. αι., so the biggest financial, social and political development of Greek city-States, continued and further develops the role of Delphi and Oracle. The information of Herodotus for oracles given to Kings non-English sites, as the Midas of Phrygia, the Gygis and the Croesus of Lydia and the Amasis of Egypt, show enlargement of Oracle's radiation all over the then known world. Although that the authenticity of these oracles is often challenged, the offer valued anathimatwn of the rulers of these Delphi indicates at least attempt to associate the positive opinion of the Oracle, but all the Greeks in their political designs.
The connection of the sanctuary with the amphictyony of cities of Thessaly and Central Greece, that was the 7th or 6th century. e.g., allowed Delphi to emerge on the national political centre. So, very often conflicting flocked to the Pythia to resolve their differences, giving the possibility to the Oracle to intervene as an arbitrator in several disputes between city-States, phenomenon that occurs for the first time in the history of civilization. Also, often asking if I had to start a campaign, If it was better to make peace, How could avoid the suffering of a war or a catastrophic disaster. In this way the Oracle managed to plays an important role in the politics of ancient Greece, mainly from the 6th to the 4th century. e.g..
Oracle and internal politics
Judging by the large number of LDS religious content, We believe that a common way for Oracle's intervention in the internal affairs of City-States were the decisions related to the establishment of new cults. The many relevant questions to the Pythia the cause usually several catastrophic events, as epidemics, drought, bad years for crops and animals, etc.. Apollo advised then what gods or heroes to honor, what old forgotten cult to restore, whom to contact to the katharei from the defilement caused by bad.
But more important was the role of manteiwn in the formation and development of legislation and of modes in ancient Greek city-States, with the support provided by, in almost all cases, in innovations that gradually led to the conquest of the Republic. We know that Delphi asked for the adoption of the clause "Lykourgou», that laid the foundations of the Spartan Constitution, as well as the laws of Solon, that brought reconciliation between warring political groups in Athens in the early 6th century. e.g..
Even, the Oracle clearly contributed to the establishment of Athenian democracy, causing the Spartan military assistance on the side of Cleisthenes. And immediately after, When cleisthenes attempted to redistribute the social body with the creation of ten new Athenian tribes, measure will certainly face many reactions on the part of the aristocrats, use again the help of Oracle: Sent to Delphi directory with names 50 ή 100 mythical heroes of Athens, to pick out the Pythia ten, to onomatizontan the new races. The positive response of the priesthood are automatically declared and acceptance of innovation from God, and thereby drastically limiting any potential reactions from the people affected.
In essence, i.e., politicians are not asking for anything other than praise of Apollo in their decisions, which were thereby under divine auspices and had so great chances to be implemented without substantive reactions. That the Oracle had generally positive attitudes towards innovative proposals was mainly due to the weighting of many and diverse factors that affect every time his decision. But there was another criterion, that, fixed always, govern the decisions of the Oracle of Delphi:
Oracle and moral teaching
One of the basic principles of the Oracle was the constant attempt to imerepsei the morals of the people, and on a personal and collective level. And this was one of the greatest contributions of ekpolitistikes, that gradually led to the conquest of ancient Greek humanity.
On a personal level, This was achieved with the persistent Oracle's teaching that the murder was not need to be cleansed again with the blood of the murderer but also with other, milder and anthrwpinoteroys ways, as the sacrifice of an animal, the submission of the offender in some ceremonies, etc. Cathar¬TIC. If you think that the Cretan traditional vendettas and survived until very recently, We can easily realize the magnitude of this morality instruction of Delphi in such an early period.
This perception for the calming of passions, the humanizing of morals and the control of violent reactions now in doctrinal teaching authority of all of the sanctuary and became a fundamental element in the decisions of the. For’ This all oracles represent tame human reason, that expresses the moral teaching apollwneia. This explicitly stated in condensed that was written by the 6th century already. on the walls of the Pronaos of the Temple of Apollo and considered in retrospect as quotations of seven wise men. The most famous of these was the ' Agan ' zero, i.e. not done anything during the’ excessive, and «know thyself», i.e. trying everyone to know himself. With the first saying, God was advising people and States to bring the measure, IE moderation and wisdom, as criteria in their decisions, teaching them to be aware of the limits that must not exceed in life decisions, Why were to become ybristes. And, of course, the best way to learn the limitations inherent in the second saying, in self-knowledge, that leads to awareness of personal responsibility and choice of conscious life.
In the Central, Therefore, point of teaching apollwneias, expressed through the Oracle and oracles, they stand two basikotates concepts of ancient Greek wisdom, the measure and self-knowledge, that, not random, simultaneously and are two of the fundamental principles throughout the course of the human race.
Despite years of research and thousands of pages have been written on the subject, It is not easy to answer very clearly about what just took place in Delphi. The views of researchers vary between two extremes: In a are absolute realistic, They claim that the entire process was nothing but a sophisticated business that exploit the ignorance, the gullibility and bias of the ancients. To apply this, requires universal stupidity of the Greeks, as features the Xr. Karouzos, something which is not certified by other phenomena and actions of the ancient world. At the other extreme are the followers of esoteric, I think that was really Pythies mediums (Psychics), that having the ability to communicate with the "other side", could and somehow predict the future. The truth, as in all things, should be located somewhere in the Middle. And it will try to approach the following, citing a series of data, they should take account of anyone who would like to approach the phenomenon.
The ancient world lived in an atmosphere of superstition and had great thirst, regardless of educational level, for specific guidance either on daily problems or major historic decisions. In ancient Greek religion were no sacred scriptures, όπως, e.g., the Bible in Judaism, where to is expressed the will of the divine and the basic principles of life. The priests of the Olympians gods did not give advice nor listening to confessions. It was solely responsible for the performance of sacrificial rites and other. So, the States or the people constantly sought guidance from the gods through divination and, Consequently, the oracles were the natural receptors of agony and of people but also of the cities – States for help.
The Pythia, the woman who was the median between God and believers, It wasn't random. It must have been an oversensitive creature, He had the ability to kataliptikis state pride spill over alienation, not only believing that communicates with God but persuading others for’ This. Probably the first Pythies or any particular woman of Delphi had the charisma that, which created the first rumor of the Oracle. Besides, the selection of Pythiwn from the priesthood should be related to their faith and their dedication to the worship of Apollo, for’ It was only from the surrounding area. The population there will be prowled in an atmosphere of extreme respect for God. The certainty that the Apollo considered the future course of exquisite Pythia would affect the psychology of some women, cultivating a kind of predisposition for the conquest of the axiom. It is not unlikely that even, for the selection of new Pythias to follow a process like that of choosing a religious leader, e.g.. the new Dalai Lama in Tibetan religion. To choose a small girl, that grew with the necessary theoretical and practical teaching, so it can worthily to take service in the temple, just died the previous Priestess.
The priesthood of Delphi, who did the final recording and composition of oracles, It consisted of skilled and experienced people. Plutarch, priest at Delphi the 2nd a.d.. αι., that's the level we know directly from his writings, It was not an isolated case. The priests should be held even knowledge of Psychology for personal affairs, While for the oracles mentioned in remote areas (e.g.. colonization) and answers to international issues, You should know the mythology and history of each place, as well as the geographic, political and social conditions. Probably also informed in advance by the parties for matters not knew.
Important role in divination process were playing and the consuls. They were residents of Delphi and functioned as representatives of specific cities, having the task to guide the pilgrims and to assist them in all phases of the divination process. There is no doubt that when their promiscuity in Delphi stakeholders will discreetly by the consuls anakrinontan, that could draw so information about their condition, the problem that the employed, etc.. All these were channelled to priests, who will certainly take account of them in the final drafting of the Oracle.
The oracles were usually too general and amfisimoi, leaving much room for interpretation. The priests had long experience in the art of indefinite, grifwdoys, contradictory, even drafting of reasons manifold of Pythias. Usually these oracles were in need of further interpretation, task for which the chrismoliptes, Once returned to their homeland, flocked to local chrismologoys and exigites.
Complaints of believers that God deceived with the ' dark ' and dysermineyta words of, out many of the ancient historians. But in the end God will always prove true, because in the end it was a different interpretation of’ It was originally believed the manteyomenos. So, the error didn't ever attributed to God, but people who had misinterpreted his words. This may not satisfy the person concerned but of course eventually become believable from the very world.
End, even if, Nonetheless, the oracles proved to be wrong, the priesthood or the local chrismologoi were pseydochrismoys or mythical events with which they were trying to give a convincing explanation for divination response of Pythias. This is the oracles who have termed ysteromanteies or retrospective prophecy, phenomenon common, Judging from the plethora throughout ancient literature.
However, it is undeniable and it follows from all of the sources mentioned in the subject, at least during the archaic and classical times, the importance and prestige of oracles in life and the States and people, from the most aploϊkoys to the most pepaideymenoys. This was of course the result of deep faith in the presence of God and the truth of his words. This perception, as well as the belief that people easily and immediately understand the will of the gods, It was to protect the reputation of the Oracle and moments of failure. Heraclitus here gives us the key to explaining this unwavering faith of ancient to the oracles of Apollo: "The worst of the manteion esti ἄnax volume in Delfois, oyte hides ἀlla saith oyte means "/ The King has been the Oracle of Delphi speaks clearly neither hides nor· only show signs. The problem lies, as in all seasons, the fact that those who need to understand the divine signs aren't gods, but people.
If. Professor of archaeology, University of Athens