previous next

ἐξηγητῇ -- πατρίῳ . πατρῴῳ instead of πατρίῳ is called for by Ast on slight MS authority. Ἀπόλλων was ancestor of the Ionians, being father of Ion (Euthyd. 302 D), and was worshipped by them as Ἀπόλλων πατρῷος (Preller Gr. Myth. p. 272). But (as Schneider observes) “Socrates hic non magis quam alibi in his libris tanquam Atheniensis loquitur, sed tanquam Graecus. Graecis autem omnibus πάτριος, hoc est, a maioribus traditus harum rerum arbiter et interpres erat Delphicus Apollo.” An allusion to the special connexion of Ionians with Apollo would be out of place, particularly as πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις follows. In Athens the ἐξηγηταί formed a college of three members, charged with religious duties. According to Schöll (in Hermes VI pp. 36 ff.) the members were partly chosen by Apollo in his capacity of πάτριος ἐξηγητής; apparently the Athenians chose nine, out of whom three were selected—one from each triad —by the representatives of the god: whence their designation πυθόχρηστοι. It is on this model that Plato perhaps frames his regulations in Laws 759 D.

πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις. Delphi is then a religious centre, not for Greeks only, but for all mankind. It was certainly the nearest approach to such a centre that antiquity provided, for it commanded the homage of barbarians as well as Greeks. See Middleton Journ. of Hell. Studies IX p. 308. Middleton cites Livy XXXVIII 48. 2 “commune humani generis oraculum,” Cicero pro Font. 30 “oraculum orbis terrae,” and gives examples of the offerings paid by foreigners at Apollo's shrine. Even now, perhaps, Plato would deny that the oracle is dumb, though—true to its own principle of worshipping νόμῳ πόλεως—it speaks through other voices, and of other gods. See also on V 470 C.

ἐν μέσῳ -- ἐξηγεῖται. Cf. Eur. Ion 5, 6 ὀμφαλὸν | μέσον καθίζων Φοῖβος ὑμνῳδεῖ βροτοῖς. The ὀμφαλός was “a conical mass of ‘white marble or stone’” (Paus. X 16) in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, “said to mark the centre of the earth.” Two gold eagles stood at its sides, representing the eagles which, according to the legend, met there, having been despatched simultaneously by Zeus from the extreme East and West of the world (Strabo IX 3. 6). The ὀμφαλός is frequently represented as the seat of Apollo (ἐπὶ τοῦ ὀμφαλοῦ καθήμενος), “especially upon coins, when he is represented in the character of the giver of oracles”: see for example ImhoofBlumner and P. Gardner in J. H. S. VIII p. 18, and Plate LXXIV vii. Middleton, on whose article “The Temple of Apollo at Delphi” (cited above) this note is chiefly based, thinks “the word ὀμφαλός was probably derived from ὀμφή, a voice, because the divine voice was heard there.” If this is true, the legends associating the shrine with the ‘navel’ or centre of the earth may be due to popular etymology. ὀμφαλός, ‘navel,’ is an Indo-Germanic word (Brugmann Grundriss II p. 187). Herwerden's excision of the words ἐν μέσῳ betrays ignorance of what the ὀμφαλός really was. See also Frazer on Paus. l.c.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Euripides, Ion, 5
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 302d
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: