Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pythia: The Oracle of the Delphic Temple of Apollo.

Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal
08 Feb. 2017
"Welcome the tribes of mankind
             Who gather here, and tell them
             Most important of all,
             What [his] will is,"

______________________With this motive, Apollo established his Temple at Delphi. According to myth there were five temples to Apollo, though only two of them exist in historical record.

--The 1st temple was a hut of laurel branches,
--The 2nd was built by the wax of the bees and feathers that eventually sent by Apollo to the land of Hyperboreans,
--The 3rd one was made of bronze was either burned or swallowed by the earth.
--The 4th one was built by Trophonios and Agamedes, the respected architects, and was burned in 548 BCE.
--The 5th temple also damaged by an earthquake in 373 BCE and took fifty years to rebuild, by that time, the Pythia had lost the Power of Prophesy -[Sourvino-Inwood, 231].

The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle, was actually the High Priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The name Pythia is derived from Pytho, which in myth was the original name of Delphi. In etymology, the Greeks derived this name for the place, from the verb, púthein ie. "to rot", which refers to the sickly sweet smell of the decomposition of the body of the monstrous Python after he was slain by Apollo.

The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by the spirit of the god Apollo. The Pythian priestess emerged pre-eminent by the end of 7th century BC and would continue her service until the 4th century CE. During this period the Delphic Oracle was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the Greeks, and she was without doubt the most powerful woman of the classical world. And the oracle is one of most influential religious institutions of the Greeks.

The Delphic Temple:
It is known that the temple was built upon a spring that was used for purification by the oracle and her attending priests. Plutarch, a priest to the oracle, described the vapors from the spring as “sweetest and most expensive perfumes” -(Littleton, 77).

The ruins of the Temple of Delphi visible today date from the 4th century BC, and are of a peripteral Doric building. It was erected on the remains of an earlier temple, dated to the 6th century BC which itself was erected on the site of a 7th-century BC construction attributed to the architects Trophonios and Agamedes.

The 6th-century BC temple was named the "Temple of Alcmonidae" in tribute to the Athenian family who funded its reconstruction following a fire, which had destroyed the original structure. The new building was a Doric hexastyle temple of 6 by 15 columns. This temple was destroyed in 375 BC by an earthquake. The pediment sculptures are a tribute to Praxias and Androsthenes of Athens. Of a similar proportion to the second temple it retained the 6 by 15 column pattern around the stylobate.

Inside was the adyton, the centre of the Delphic Oracle and seat of Pythia. The temple had the statement "Know thyself", one of the Delphic maxims, carved into it, and the maxims were attributed to Apollo and given through the oracle and/or the Seven Sages of Greece.

The temple survived until AD 390, when the Roman emperor Theodosius-I silenced the oracle by destroying the temple and most of the statues and works of art to remove all traces of Paganism.

Origins of the Oracle:
It is assumed that the Delphic Oracle have been present form 1400 BC to Late Mycenaean times and there is evidence that Apollo took over the shrine from an earlier dedication to Gaia. The account of the origin of the Delphic oracle provided by the Homeric Hymn dedicated to Delphic Apollo [580–570 BCE], describes in detail how Apollo chose his first priests, whom he selected in their "swift ship"; they were "Cretans from Minos' city of Knossos" who were voyaging to sandy Pylos. But Apollo, who had Delphinios as one of his cult epithets, leapt into the ship in the form of a dolphin. Dolphin-Apollo revealed himself to the terrified Cretans, and bade them follow him up to the place where they will have rich offerings. The Cretans danced and followed, singing like the paeans of the Cretans, whose breasts is full of "honey-voiced singing" which divine Muse has placed in their heart. "Paean" seems to be the name by which Apollo was known in Mycenaean times.

There are also many later stories of the origins of the Delphic Oracle. One late explanation, which is related to Diodorus Siculus. He tells of a goat herder named Coretas, who noticed one day that one of his goats, who fell into a crack in the earth, was behaving strangely. On entering the chasm, he found himself filled with a divine presence and could see outside of the present into the past and the future. Excited by his discovery he shared it with nearby villagers. Many started visiting the site to experience the convulsions and inspirational trances, though some were said to disappear into the cleft due to their frenzied state.

A shrine was erected at the site, where people began worshiping in the late Bronze Age, by 1600 BC. As the earth belongs to Goddess Gaia, [Also, unlike tradition where the gender of the priestess or priest is the same as the divinity they served, the oracle was female because she originally served Gaia -(Loyd-Jones, 61)] the villagers chose a young woman as the liaison for the divine inspirations. Eventually she spoke on behalf of gods.

According to earlier myths, the office of the oracle was initially possessed by the daughters of Gaia, Themis and Phoebe. And Gaia appoint a pair of Python as the guardian of the Temple. As the site sacred to Gaia, subsequently, it is believed to be sacred to Poseidon, the god of earthquakes. During 11th to the 9th century BCE, a new god of prophecy, Apollo, allegedly seized the temple and expelled the twin guardian serpents of Gaia, [Apollo slays Python and keeps the oracle for himself to speak to mortals. Hence, the oracle at Delphi is known as Pythia in honor of the killing of Python. -Littleton, 77] whose bodies he wrapped around the caduceus.

Another myths stated that Phoebe or Themis had given the site to Apollo, rationalizing its seizure by priests of the new god, but presumably, having to retain the priestesses of the original oracle because of the long tradition. Apparently Poseidon was mollified by the gift of a new site in Troizen.

Initially, the Pythia was an appropriately clad young virgin, for great emphasis was placed on the Oracle's chastity and purity to be reserved for union with the god Apollo. But later it changed because of the disgrace of a Pythia by a visitor.

Pythia, the Priestess:
Since the first operation of the Oracle of Delphi, it was believed that the god lived within a laurel (his holy plant) and gave oracles for the future with the rustling of the leaves. It was also said that the art of divination had been taught to the god by the three winged sisters of Parnassus, the Thriae, at the time when Apollo was grazing his cattle there. The Thriae used to have a Kliromanteion (oracle by lot) in that area in the past and it is possible that such was the first oracle of Delphi, ie. using the lot (throwing lots in a container and pulling a lot, the color and shape of which were of particular importance).

Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi
Three oracles had successively operated in Delphi –the chthonion using egkoimisi (procedure that involved sleeping in the Holy place, so as to see a revealing dream), the Kliromanteion and finally the Apollonian, with the laurel. But ever since the introduction of the cult of Dionysus at Delphi, the god that brought his fans into ecstasy and madness, the Delphic god Apollo gave Prophesies through Pythia, who also fell into a trance when she received that.

Pythia sat on top of a tall gilded tripod that stood above the opening and would give the prophesy. Previously, Pythia was a virgin, young girl, but ever since Echecrates from Thessaly fell in love, kidnapped and violated the beautiful virgin Pythia, the system changed.

It was reported that-Echecrates the Thessalian, having arrived at the shrine and beheld the virgin who uttered the oracle, became enamoured of her because of her beauty, carried her away and violated her; and that the Delphians because of this deplorable occurrence passed a law that in the future a virgin should no longer prophesy but an elderly woman [older than fifty] as Oracle, who dressed and wore jewelry to resemble a young maiden girl, as a sort of reminder of the prophetess of older times.. According to tradition, Phemonoe was the first Pythia.

During the main period of the Oracle's popularity, as many as three women served as Pythia, two of them a vestige of the triad in shifts and a third as reserved, in case any of them wished a reprieve.

Pythia, in addition to overseeing the oracle, they would also conduct sacrifices at other festivals of Apollo, and had charge of the Pythian games. Earlier arrangements, before the temple became dedicated to Apollo, are not documented.

Pythia's life was shortened through the service of Apollo. The sessions were said to be exhausting. At the end of each period, the Pythia would be like a runner after a race or a dancer after an ecstatic dance, which may have had a physical effect on the health of the Pythia.

Officiants for Oracular Service:
While the temple was dedicated to Apollo, there was probably only one priest of Apollo. But in a later period, several other officiants served the oracle in addition to the Pythia. After 200 BCE at any given time there were two priests of Apollo, who was in charge of the entire sanctuary; Plutarch, who served as a priest during the late first century and early second century CE, gives us the most information about the organization of the oracle at that time.

The other officiants associated with the Oracle are less well known. These are the hosioi ("holy ones") and the prophētai (singular prophētēs). Prophētēs is the origin of the English word "prophet", but a better translation of the Greek word might be "one who speaks on behalf of another person." The prophetai are referred to in literary sources, but their function is unclear; it has been suggested that they interpreted the Pythia's prophecies, or even reformatted her utterances into verse, but it has also been argued that the term prophētēs is a generic reference to any cult officials of the sanctuary, including the Pythia. There were five hosioi, whose responsibilities are unknown, but may have been involved in some manner with the operation of the Oracle.

At times when the Pythia was not available, consultants [literally, “those who seek counsel.”] could obtain guidance by asking simple Yes-or-No questions to the priests. A response was returned through the tossing of colored beans, one color designating "yes," another "no." Little else is known of this practice.

Appointment of Pythia:
Little is known of how the Pythia was chosen, she was probably selected, at the death of her predecessor, from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple. And were chosen from among the main citizens of Delphi, and appointed for life. And, any type of woman could be chosen to be an oracle. Education, marital status, wealth, and age were no consideration. They were chosen for their aptitude to speak for the god. They required having had a sober life and be of good character.

A married woman, upon assuming her role as Pythia, the priestess, ceased all family responsibilities, marital relations, and individual identity. John Hale reports:

The Pythia was a noble of an aristocratic family, sometimes a peasant, sometimes rich, sometimes poor, sometimes old, sometimes young, sometimes a very lettered and educated woman, other times who could not write her own name. So it seems to have been aptitude rather than any ascribed status that made these women eligible to be Pythias and speak for the god.

In the heyday of the oracle, the Pythia may have been a woman chosen from an influential family, well educated in geography, politics, history, philosophy, and the arts. During later periods, however, uneducated peasant women were chosen for the role, which may explain why the poetic pentameter or hexameter prophecies of the early period, later were made only in prose.

Social Status of Pythia:
The job of a priestess, especially the Pythia, was a respectable career for Greek women. Priestesses enjoyed many liberties and rewards for their social position, such as freedom from taxation, the right to own property and attend public events, a salary and housing provided by the state, a wide range of duties depending on their affiliation, and often gold crowns.

Purification Rites of Pythia:
In the traditions associated with Apollo, the Oracle only gave prophecies during the nine warmest months of each year. During winter months, Apollo was said to have deserted his temple, his place being taken by his divine half-brother Dionysus, whose tomb was also within the temple. It is not known whether the Oracle participated with the Dionysian rites of the Maenads or Thyades in the Korykion cave on Mount Parnassos, although Plutarch informs us that his friend Clea was both a Priestess to Apollo and to the secret rites of Dionysus.

The male priests seem to have had their own ceremonies to the dying and resurrecting god. Apollo was said to return at the beginning of spring, on the 7th day of the month of Bysios, his birthday. This would reiterate the absences of the great goddess Demeter in winter also, which would have been a part of the earliest traditions.

Once a month, thereafter, the oracle would undergo purification rites, including fasting, to ceremonially prepare herself for communications with the god Apollo. On the seventh day of each month, she would be led by two attended oracular priests, with her face veiled in purple. A priest would then declaim:

"Servant of the Delphian Apollo
Go to the Castalian Spring
Wash in its silvery eddies,
And return cleansed to the temple.
Guard your lips from offense
To those who ask for oracles.
Let the God's answer come
Pure from all private fault".

The Pythia would then bathe naked in the Castalian Spring then would drink the holier waters of the Cassotis, which flowed closer to the temple, where a naiad possessing magical powers was said to live. Euripides described this ritual purification ceremony, starting first with the priest I on dancing on the highest point of Mount Parnassus, going about his duties within the temple, and sprinkling the temple floor with holy water. The purification ceremonies always were performed on the seventh day of the month, which was sacred to and associated with the god Apollo.

Then escorted by the Hosioi, an aristocratic council of five, with a crowd of oracular servants, they would arrive at the temple. Pythia would then remove her purple veil. She would wear a short plain white dress.

The Oracle then descended into the adytum ("inaccessible") and mounted her tripod seat, holding laurel leaves and a dish of Kassotis spring water into which she gazed. The tripod on which she seated, acted on behalf of her own safety during her frenzied states. Nearby was the omphalos ("navel" of Earth), which was flanked by two solid gold eagles representing the authority of Zeus, and the cleft from which emerged the sacred pneuma.

Rites of the Consultant:
It is not that you went to the Delphi, placed yourself in a "Q" and when you get the chance to meet the Oracle, you asked her to answer your question and then returned home with that she Prophesied. Actually, to get an answer, the supplicant [consultant] to the oracle would undergo a four-stage process, that is typical of shamanic journeys.

Step 1: Journey to Delphi — Supplicants were motivated by some need to undertake the long and sometimes arduous journey to come to Delphi in order to consult the oracle. This journey was motivated by an awareness of the existence of the oracle, the growing motivation on the part of the individual or group to undertake the journey, and the gathering of information about the oracle as providing answers to important questions.

Step 2: Preparation of the Supplicant — Supplicants were interviewed in preparation of their presentation to the Oracle, by the priests in attendance. The genuine cases were sorted and the supplicant had to go through rituals involving the framing of their questions, the presentation of gifts to the Oracle and a procession along the Sacred Way carrying laurel leaves to visit the temple, symbolic of the journey they had made.

Step 3: Visit to the Oracle — The supplicant would then be led into the temple to visit the adytum, put his question to the Pythia, receive his answer and depart. The degree of preparation already undergone would mean that the supplicant was already in a very aroused and meditative state, similar to the shamanic journey elaborated on in the article.

Step 4: Return Home — Oracles were meant to give the advice to shape future action, that was meant to be implemented by the supplicant, or by those that had sponsored the supplicant to visit the Oracle.

It should be noted that the validity of the Oracular utterance was confirmed by the consequences of the application of the oracle to the lives of those people who sought Oracular guidance.

Oracular Procedure:
Inquiries could only be made of Apollo once a year on the seventh day of the Greek month of Bysios-Apollo’s birthday. However, according to Plutarch, this was eventually changed to the seventh day of each month except the winter months when Apollo did not reside in Delphi. The change from yearly inquiries to monthly was made no later than 480 BCE. Obviously many people wanted to consult the oracle. So, at a time, it needs to appoint three oracles, which we already explained earlier.

To organize the people and communities that wished to visit the oracle on the given day precedence was given. The city of Delphi always received the first precedence and bequeathed second place to a city of their choosing. Those without precedence drew lots for the place. Unfortunately, those at the end of the line may not have gotten a chance to see the Oracle because of the setting sun and would then have to wait until the next month to try again.  Similarly, despite the precedence system, any person could consult the oracle as long as they made an offering to Apollo according to their means -[Parke, 19-22].

Petitioners drew lots to determine the order of admission, but representatives of a city-state or those who brought larger donations to Apollo were secured a higher place in line. Each person approaching the Oracle was accompanied with a proxenos specific to the state of the petitioner, whose job was to identify the citizen of their polis. This service too was paid for.

Consultants, carrying laurel branches sacred to Apollo, approached the temple along the winding upward course of the Sacred Way, bringing a young goat kid for sacrifice in the forecourt of the temple, and a monetary fee.

Carved into the entrance of the temple were two phrases, which seem to have played an important part in the later temple ritual: γνῶθι σεαυτόν ("know thyself") and μηδὲν ἄγαν ("nothing in excess"), and an enigmatic "E".

What is "E at Delphi"?
According to Plutarch, —As the first letter of ἐγγύα πάρα δ'ἄτα ("make a pledge and mischief is nigh"), In ancient times, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece. And, Michael Barkas explains as-

“The third Delphic maxim functions argumentatively (or dialectically) with the other two and constitutes the ALL. If one affirms that they possess the "know thyself" along with the "nothing in excess", then at the same time the "pledge and mischief is nigh" is committed. The third exists for the other two; without the third maxim, the other two do not complete the circle, whereas the third one constitutes its beginning and its end. The tragicality of the three Delphic maxims reveals the GAME that takes place in Delphi, in the Earth's Navel that philosophically can be compared with the Socratic Ignorance, poetically with the Blindness of Oedipus and scientifically with the Uncertainty Principle.”

However, what we are telling, at the temple fire to Hestia, a live goat kid would be set in front of the Altar and sprinkled with water. If the kid trembled from the hooves upward it was considered a good omen for the oracle, [but if it didn't, the enquirer was considered to have been rejected by the god and the consultation was terminated]. The goat was then slaughtered and upon the sacrifice, the animal's organs, particularly its liver, were examined to ensure the signs were favorable, and then burned outside on the altar of Chios. The rising smoke was a signal that the oracle was open.

Plutarch describes this event of one session, in which, the omens were ill-favored, but the Oracle was consulted nonetheless. The priests proceeded to receive the prophecy, but the result was a hysterical uncontrollable reaction from the priestess that resulted in her death a few days later.

The Pythia seems she was into a trance like a state. And when she was ready inquirers would be led in by a priest who would ask the question. The Oracle would respond and the priests would interpret the answers for the visitor -[Oppe, 215]. Often Pytheya answers to questions would be put into hexameter by a priest.

Nevertheless, details of how the Pythia operated are missing and those who discussed the Oracle in any detail are from 1st century BC to 4th century AD and give conflicting stories.

Some account claimed that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock and that she spoke gibberish which priests interpreted as the enigmatic prophecies and turned them into poetic dactylic hexameters preserved in Greek literature. But Joseph Fontenrose and Lisa Maurizio, who argue that the ancient sources uniformly represent the Pythia speaking intelligibly, and giving prophecies in her own voice. on the other hand, Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BC describes the Pythia speaking in dactylic hexameters.

However, before the Pythia could be questioned, she had to ritually prepare herself. Much of the purification rites involve Laurel as it is the tree of Apollo and associated with divination. The Pythia would chew laurel and bay leaves, and wear a crown of laurel while sitting on a tripod adorned with Laurel over a fissure in the cellar of the temple which is known as adytum.

Adytum is a small chamber was located below the general floor of the temple and offset to one side, perhaps constructed specifically over the crossing faults. The intimate chamber allowed the escaping vapors to be contained in quarters close enough to provoke intoxicating effects. Plutarch reports that the temple was filled with a sweet smell when the "deity" was present:

Not often nor regularly, but occasionally and fortuitously, the room in which they seat the god's consultants is filled with a fragrance and breeze as if the adytum were sending forth the essences of the sweetest and most expensive perfumes from a spring -[Plutarch, Moralia 437c].

Influence of Oracular Statement on Person, Society, and State: 
Story-1: Among the children of Israel there was a rich man, who had a beautiful daughter. The man's heir was his nephew- a vagabond. The nephew wanted to marry his cousin sister, but his uncle denied. So the nephew went to Pythia and seek advice. The Pythia told him- "Your uncle will not die soon. So if you want to marry her, you have to kill your uncle." She also instructs him how to kill and how to be safe from the accusation of the murder.

One day, the rich man was found dead near the residential area of a tribe of Bani Israel. There were many speculations regarding the motive of the murder, but nobody could figure out whodunnit.

The relatives of the rich man including his nephew started searching for the murderer. But they still could not trace the murderer. It was a law, that if anyone killed near a city and the murdered would not trace, then the city dweller will pay the blood-money. With this law, the nephew demanded the blood-money to the nearby tribe's men. But they denied, saying: "We are not the murderer." They trying to get rid of the evidence.

The incident that drew a harsh discord became into a harsh argument which made a war situation between the two tribes of the Israelis. And then a wise man said aloud, "Why you will kill each other when a Prophet of God among you? Go to him, may be he will solve this with the help of God."

So both parties came to Moses and appealed to him to resolve the dispute and by that time the possibility of resolving a dispute by making the parties give an oath has not been revealed yet. The nephew of the victim demanded revenge but his claims have been turned down due to the lack of witnesses. On the other hand, before Moses all parties were equal. 

However, there was no evidence for issuing a verdict on the matter. Moses takes some time, then he told them to slaughter a cow. And they think he is making fun of them. Actually, they always made fun of Moses, and love to bring those unsolved cases to him so that they may get rid of him with a failure from him. However, in this cases, may be it was exceptional, they politely asked him to tell God to be more specific.

Moses said, "It should be a handsome yellow cow."
There are plenty of handsome yellow cows around. Pick one and sacrifice, but no, the Jews are whiny, as they so often are, so they want Moses to tell God to tell him to tell them what specific kind of cow He wants for a sacrifice.  Because all cows look the same to them.

Hmmm, want to solve something that is out of your knowledge? Then you have to pay according to the job nature. Free things never valued, do you ever thanked God for Sunlight, Moonlight, Water, Air or the Soil that keeps you alive?

So God comes back with this list of everything he wants this special cow to be. It is now too demanding and too picky that fitted perfectly for the whiny Jews. Now details of the Cow they got, nothing to asked. So they say, “Now have you brought us the truth.” 

Here’s how the cow story went down, Qur'an says- And when ye slew a man and disagreed concerning it and Allah brought forth that which ye were hiding. -'[2:72]

When Moses said to his people: “God demands that you sacrifice a cow,”
They said: “Are you making fun of us?”
And he said: “God forbid that I be of the ignorant.”
“Call on your Lord for us,” they said, “that He might inform us what kind she should be.” 
“Neither old nor young says God, but of age in between,” answered Moses. “So do as you are bid.”
“Call on your Lord,” they said, “to tell us the color of the cow.”
“God says,” answered Moses, “a fawn colored cow, rich yellow, well pleasing to the eye.”
“Call on your Lord,” they said, “to name its variety, as cows are all alike to us. If God wills we shall be guided aright.”
And Moses said: “He says it’s a cow unyoked, nor worn out by plowing or watering the fields, one in good shape with no mark or blemish.” 
“Now have you brought us the truth,” they said; -[2:67-71]

The Jews went out in search of such a cow. The only one that matched the description was the one owned by the orphaned youth. They met him on the way and asked the price for which he would sell his cow. He told them he would have to consult his mother first, so they accompanied him to his house and offered her three gold coins. She refused their offer, saying that the cow was worth much more.

They went on increasing their offer and the mother kept on refusing. Finally, they urged the son not to speak to his mother and to be reasonable. He told them: "I will not sell the cow without my mother's approval, even if you offered me its skin filled with gold!"
On hearing this, his mother smiled and said: "Let that be the price: its skin filled with gold."
They realized that no other cow would do; they had to have it at any price. They agreed to buy the cow and paid with its skin filled with gold.

They brought the cow to Moses and sacrificed. Then God commanded that the victim should be touched by a part of the cow’s body.

What happened then?
Wow. Just wow.  Imagine if all of this actually happened. You’d have all these Jews slapping a corpse with bloody chunks of beef, but since there is no God and since people do not come back from the dead, nothing happens. So they do it, but it happened.
What happened?
Oh ha, the miracle happened, the dead guy comes back to life temporarily to reveal the killer. He [the dead man] pronounced: “I was killed by my nephew.” Qur'an says- And We said: Smite him with some of it. Thus Allah bringeth the dead to life and showeth you His portents so that ye may understand. -'[2:73]

Now we will see what the Jewish Sacred books said to this special heifer. According to Jewish tradition, a "Red Heifer" [The yellow cow, is basically the same as the red cow of the Bible. The Jew make it red or God just forgot the color??, we do not know what the Jew would comment about this.] is a female cow that is three years of age with a particular reddish hue and cannot have even two hairs of any other color. It cannot be used for any type of labor and must be blemish free. The biblical commandment regarding the Red Heifer can be found in the Book of Numbers and is considered as the only antidote to the state of impurity brought on by death.

“The emergence of the red heifer is not some mystical miracle,” elucidated Rabbi Richman. “It is a practical development alongside Torah knowledge and science.”
The Red Heifer (Hebrew: פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה‎‎; para adumma), also known as the red cow, was a cow brought to the priests as a sacrifice according to the Hebrew Bible, and its ashes were used for the ritual purification of Tum'at HaMet ("the impurity of the dead"), that is, an Israelite who had come into contact with a corpse.

What happened then?
Oh ha, after pronounced his murderer’s name the dead became silent again. And the Jews killed the nephew according to the law of God and from then nephews lost their inheritance from their uncle.

Story-2: Abdul Muttalib, the grand father of Muhammad, the last Prophet. He engaged himself finding the disappeared Zamzam Well influenced by his dream. And in search of the well, he engaged himself on finding works in between the mountain Safa and Marwa with the help of his son Haris. The job was difficult and too laborious. So he seeks the cooperation of Quraish. But they were not interested to co-operate as they thought it’s an impossible work and their efforts will go in vain. So Abdul Muttalib promised that if he able to find the well and God gives him 10 (ten) sons, then he will sacrifice a son in the name of God.

Later Abdul Muttalib achieved 10 (ten) sons. And after a long effort, he finds the well with the help of his son Haris. Then the father and son both were dug it together.

Abdul Muttalib- this honored head of the family promised to sacrifice a son to the name of God. So he called all of his sons and reminds them of his promise. All of the sons agreed with his father to fulfill his promise. So Abdul Muttalib draws lottery on his 10 (ten) sons. And the lottery result shows the name of his most beloved son Abdullah. So he decided to sacrifice him.

On the particular date, people were assembled on the premises of Ka'ba to celebrate the sacrifice. But it was interrupted for the 1st time by the mother’s side of Abdullah. Then others from the gathering requested to abstain himself from this sacrifice. So Abdul Muttalib goes to Pythia for her ruling. There were 360 gods and goddess placed inside Ka'ba for worship, one a day of the Moon Year. Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies ie if someone expresses his desire to god while standing in a specified place of Ka'ba, he was answered. Thus it was said to Abdul Muttalib to draw a lottery between 10 (ten) camels and his son and if the result is camel then he should sacrifice them. But if the result is his son, then he should continue the lottery adding 10 (ten) camels with the previous till the desired result. Thus on the 10th draw of the lottery ie when the lottery draws between 100 (hundred) camels and his son Abdullah, he gets the desired result ie. 100 camels.

From that period, the price of human life (Blood Money) to be 100 (hundred) camels was the common practice. Till then, this system is defined as the law and was pursued after the Prophethood of Muhammad.

Story-3: In 560 BC, Croesus of Lydia, in a trial of oracles, consulted all the famous oracles as to what he was doing on an appointed day. According to Herodotus, the Oracle proclaimed:

"I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea; I understand the speech of the dumb and hear the voiceless. The smell has come to my sense of a hard shelled tortoise boiling and bubbling with a lamb's flesh in a bronze pot: the cauldron underneath it is of bronze, and bronze is the lid."

Delphi was declared the winner. Croesus then asked if he should make war on the Persians and if he should take to himself any allied force. The oracles to whom he sent this question included those at Delphi and Thebes. Both oracles gave the same response, that if Croesus made war on the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire. They further advised him to seek out the most powerful Greek peoples and make an alliance with them.
Croesus paid a high fee to the Delphians and then sent to the Oracle asking "Would his monarchy last long?" The Pythia answered:

"Whenever a mule shall become sovereign king of the Medians, then, Lydian Delicate-Foot, flee by the stone-strewn Hermus, flee, and think not to stand fast, nor shame to be chicken-hearted."

Croesus thought it impossible that a mule should be king of the Medes and thus believed that he and his issue would never be out of power. He thus decided to make common cause with certain Greek city states and attack Persia.

However, it was he, not the Persians, who was defeated, fulfilling the prophecy but not his interpretation of it. He apparently forgot that Cyrus, the victor, was half Mede (by his mother), half Persian (by his father) and therefore could be considered a mule.

Some Oracular Statements:
Pythia was the priestess presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. There are more than 500 supposed Oracular statements which have survived from various sources referring to the oracle at Delphi. Many are anecdotal and have survived as proverbs. Several are ambiguously phrased, apparently in order to show the Oracle in a good light regardless of the outcome. Such prophesies were admired for their dexterity of phrasing. One such famous prediction was the answer to an unknown person who was inquiring as to whether it would be safe for him to join a military campaign; the answer was: "Go, return not die in war", which can have two entirely opposite meanings, depending on where a missing comma is supposed to be – before or after the word "not". Nevertheless, the Oracle seems consistent to have advocated peaceful, not violent courses generally. The following list presents some of the most prominent and historically significant prophecies of Delphi.

480 BCE
When Xerxes, the son of Darius the Great of Persia, returned to finish the job of conquering the Greeks in which his father had failed, the Athenians consulted the oracle. They were told:

Now your statues are standing and pouring sweat. They shiver with dread. The black blood drips from the highest rooftops. They have seen the necessity of evil. Get out, get out of my sanctum and drown your spirits in woe.

It was unambiguous. When persuaded to seek advice a second time, the oracle gave a way for the Athenians to escape their doom. When Athena approached her father to help her city, Zeus responded that he would grant that "a wall of wood alone shall be uncaptured, a boon to you and your children."

The Oracle again advised the Athenians to flee: Await not in quiet the coming of the horses, the marching feet, the armed host upon the land. Slip away. Turn your back. You will meet in battle anyway. O holy Salamis, you will be the death of many a woman's son between the seedtime and the harvest of the grain.

Meanwhile, the Spartans also consulted the oracle and were told: The strength of bulls or lions cannot stop the foe. No, he will not leave off, I say until he tears the city or the king limb from limb.
or in a version according to Herodotus:

Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces;
Either your famed, great town must be sacked by Perseus' sons,
Or, if that be not, the whole land of Lacedaemon
Shall mourn the death of a king of the house of Heracles,
For not the strength of lions or of bulls shall hold him,
Strength against strength; for he has the power of Zeus,
And will not be checked until one of these two he has consumed.

The Spartans withdrew in consternation, wondering which fate was worse. The Delphians themselves then asked how Persia could be defeated. The oracle replied: Pray to the Winds. They will prove to be mighty allies of Greece.

Events overtook the prophecy when the Persian army assaulted Thermopylae, where a Spartan-led coalition (popularly called the "300" after the number of Spartans sent (who were, excepting one man with an eye infection, killed to a man)) and allies held the pass against them. The Spartans under King Leonidas resisted the Persian advance at Thermopylae until betrayed by treachery. Refusing to retreat, the entire Spartan contingent, including their King (as foretold), lost their lives, but in so doing gained immortal fame. The Persian armada then sailed to nearby Cape Artemisium, where they were met by the Athenian fleet. The Athenian ships fought against great odds, but in three battles managed to hold their own.

A tremendous storm then arose at Artemisium, with the most violent winds attacking the ships for three days. The Persians lost about 20% of their warships and perhaps the same number of transport vessels to the storm. The stormy winds and huge waves did not harm the Athenian ships.

Back in Athens Themistocles argued that the wall of wood referred to the Athenian navy and persuaded the Athenians to pursue their policy of using wealth from their Attic silver mines at Laurium to continue building their fleet. On the grounds that the Oracle referred to the nearby island of Salamis as "holy", he claimed that those slain would be Greece's enemies, not the Athenians. For these, the oracle would have said "O cruel Salamis". His voice carried the day, Athens was evacuated to Salamis and in a following naval battle, the Athenian fleet and its allies destroyed the Persian fleet at Salamis, while watched by Xerxes. Despite the fact that Athens was burned by the Persians, her occupants were saved, the Persian threat was ended and the authority of the Oracle was never higher.

440 BCE:
A friend of Socrates, Chaerephon, went before Pythia asking, "Is there any man alive wiser than Socrates?"
The answer that he received was simply, "None."

431 BCE:
At the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans send a delegation to Delphi inquire whether it would be wise to go to war against Athens. According to Thucydides, "It is said that the god replied that if they fought with all their might, victory would be theirs and that he himself would be on their side, whether they invoked him or not."

403 BCE:
Lysander, the Spartan victor of the Peloponnesian War was warned to beware: Also the dragon (serpent), earthborn, in craftiness coming behind thee.

He was slain from behind in 395 BC by Neachorus, who had a serpent painted upon his shield.

401 BCE:
Sparta warned:
Sure though thy feet, proud Sparta, have a care,
A lame king's reign may see thee trip — Beware!
Troubles unlooked for long shall vex thy shore,
And rolling Time his tide of carnage pour.

Agesilaus, the lame king of Sparta, who acceded to the Spartan throne at the time of Lysander, through attacking enemies in every quarter, lost control of the seas to the Persians who attacked Spartan coastal locations. In his obsession with Thebes, he incited the Thebans under Epaminondas to fight back. The Spartans were defeated for the first time by the Thebans in the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC; this led to the invasion of Sparta itself and its defeat at the battle of Mantinea in 362 BC.

359 BCE:
Philip II of Macedon consulted the Oracle and was told: "With silver spears, you may conquer the world"

The king then sought to control the silver mines in the neighboring Thracian and Illyrian kingdom and using them to bribe his way to early victories, playing one Greek state off against the others, and isolating his enemies by bribes to potential allies.

Philip also had a highly spirited black colt that no one could ride. The Oracle of Delphi stated whoever could ride this horse would conquer the world, but despite many attempts, neither Philip nor any of his generals could mount the horse. His son, Alexander, later to be called the Great, succeeded as he realized that the horse was afraid of his own shadow. Philip gave the horse Bucephalus to Alexander, who took the steed on his conquest of Asia.

336 BCE:
Alexander the Great visited the Delphic Oracle wishing to hear a prophecy that he would soon conquer the entire ancient world. To his surprise, the Oracle refused a direct comment and asked him to come later. Furious, Alexander dragged Pythia by the hair out of the chamber until she screamed: "You are invincible, my son!"
The moment he heard these words he dropped her, saying, "Now I have my answer".

279 BCE:
Plundered by a Celtic invasion, the Oracle declared: "Care for these things fall on me!"

The Celts were met by earthquakes, avalanches, and a massive snow storm, forcing them to retreat. But the Romans were a different matter.

83 BC:
Delphi was razed by an attack from the Thracian tribe of Maedi who extinguished the sacred fire which had been burning uninterrupted for centuries. At the time of Pompey the Great, Cicero, Pompey's ally, consulted the Oracle as to how he should find the greatest fame and was told: "Make your own nature, not the advice of others, your guide in life."

Pompey was subsequently defeated by Julius Caesar. Cicero cultivated his oratory and his skills in the courts in preserving Rome from the Catilinarian conspiracy, earning undying fame.

67 CE:
Emperor Nero, who was just 30 years old and had killed his own mother in 59 AD, when visiting the Oracle was told: "Your presence here outrages the god you seek. Go back, matricide! The number 73 marks the hour of your downfall!"

He was angered and had the Pythia burned alive. Nero thought he would have a long reign and die at 73. Instead, his reign came to a short end after a revolt by Galba who was 73 years of age at the time.

362 CE:
On behalf of his emperor Julian the Apostate, Oribasius visited the Delphic oracle, now in a rather desolate state, offering his emperor's services to the temple and, in return, receiving one of the last prophecies by the Delphic Pythia-

"Tell the emperor that my hall has fallen to the ground. Phoibos no longer has his house, nor his mantic bay, nor his prophetic spring; the water has dried up."

What to say in the conclusion? We are now living in the 21st Century, an era of Science and Technology, and we do not believe in gods, yet we have the historical information that-

Between 535 and 615 BCE, the Oracles of Delphi are known to have survived, of which over half are said to be accurate historically.

Thus we need to have a scientific proof or Logical explanation [if any] of the Question- "How did Pythia be Inspired to Receive a Prophecy?"

The Temple at Delphi stationed from 1400 BCE to 381 CE and the question may be as older as her long tenure. Previously, it was debated, whether the Oracle received the words from Apollo by Spiritual Inspiration or by hallucination [Resultant of her drinking waters of the Cassotis, by the sacred pneuma. which emerged through the cleft under the Triad and due to the laurel and bay leaves that she chewed.] or that is purely a suggestion.

And, in the twentieth century, the reasoning for the Pythia’s riddled answers and the nature of the vapors rising from the floor of the temple again has been richly debated.

Early research believed there to be no vapors or chasms below the temple, despite descriptions in ancient texts. New research shows that there are two definite fault lines intersecting below the temple. The Delphic Fault runs east to west and the Kerna Fault runs north and south. Analysis of the hydrocarbon gases in the spring water near the temple are shown to contain ethylene which is sweet smelling and if rising into an enclosed chamber would have been potent enough to cause a trance state (Roach).

Today the concentration of gasses is weaker because of the absence of seismic activity to push the gasses to the surface. Some People believed that the earthquake that damaged the temple in 373 BCE. closed the fissures that were releasing the gasses.

The Oracle's last response in 362 BCE. states that “the temple has fallen” and as Christianity gained power she states that it was interrupting the flow of divine power from Apollo (Hale). Some People of this day believe that the Pythia lost power not only because of the rise of Christianity but also because she lacked the hallucinogens necessary to prophesy.

'A Hebrew boy, a god who rules among the blessed,
Bids me leave this house forward and go back to Hades.
So in silence go from my altars.'

The End.
Not Yet Justified.

# Someone asked me, "Bro, is there any basis to believe in Pythian Prophecy?"
@ I said, "You know, people come to Pythia, with their Question that Human unable to answer. And the record says- Between 535 and 615 BCE, the Oracles of Delphi are known to have survived, of which over half are said to be accurate historically.

We Muslims are instructed not to consult with Palmist, Soothsayer or Pythia, even we do not believe in gods, but we believe in Pythian Prophecy, that is sometimes it may true, because we know how Oracle works. It is said in the Qur'an-

And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the Jinns, so they [only] increased them in burden. ...... And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames. And we used to sit therein in positions for hearing, but whoever listens now will find a burning flame lying in wait for him.-[72:6–9]

The rationalists generally sought an explanation regarding Pythia’s abilities. Even we found, from the earlier, there was a process of abjection to eject Pythia from her privileged place, employing that, she was deified, she was demonized, she was sexualized, she was defeminized, she was made ignorant, and she was transcribed and prescribed and proscribed by Priests, etc, yet the truth is, her Position in the society never decline throughout the ages.

However, the toxic vapor is a factor. It may possible when Pythia was in her "high" on it, she infused with the spirit of the devils.

The early fathers of the Christian church could not think of any explanation for the oracular Prophecy, but that demons were allowed to assist them to spread idolatry; so that the need for a Savior would be more evident." 

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