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As Sarapion was beginning to say something about these matters, the foreign visitor said, ‘It is very pleasant to listen to such conversation as this, but I am constrained to claim the fulfilment of your first promise regarding the cause which has made the prophetic priestess cease to give her oracles in epic verse or in other metres. So, if it be agreeable, let us postpone to another time what remains of our sightseeing, and sit down here and hear about it. For it is the recital of this fact which above all else [p. 303] militates against confidence in the oracle, since people assume one of two things : either that the prophetic priestess does not come near to the region in which is the godhead, or else that the spirit has been completely quenched and her powers have forsaken her.’

Accordingly we went round and seated ourselves upon the southern steps of the temple, looking towards the shrine of Earth and the stream of water, with the result that Boethus immediately remarked that the place itself proffered assistance to the visitor in the solution of the question. ‘For,’ said he, ‘there used to be a shrine of the Muses near the place where the water of the stream wells up ; wherefore they used to use this water for libations and lustrations, as Simonides1 says :

Where from depths below, for pure lustration
Is drawn the fair-haired Muses' fount of holy water.
And in another passage2 he addresses Clio in a somewhat affected way as the
Holy guardian of lustration,
and goes on to say that
She, invoked in many a prayer,
In robes unwrought with gold,
For those that came to draw
Raised from the ambrosial grot
The fragrant beauteous water.
[p. 305] Eudoxus, therefore, was wrong in believing those who declared that this is called the water of the Styx. But they established the cult of the Muses as associates and guardians of the prophetic art in this very place beside the stream and the shrine of Earth, to whom it is said that the oracle used to belong because of the responses being given in poetic and musical measures. And some assert that it was here that the heroic verse was heard for the first time :
Birds, contribute your feathers, and bees, bring wax as your portion.
Later Earth became inferior to the god and lost her august position.’

1 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. iii. pp. 409-410, Simonides, nos. 44 and 45; or Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, ii. p. 314. Cf. also Poulsen, Delphi, 4; but the attmpted restorations of the verses by the various editors do not as yet display any felicity.

2 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. iii. p. 409-410, Simonides, nos. 44 and 45; or Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, ii. p. 314. Cf. also Poulsen, Delphi, 4; but the attempted restorations of the verses by the various editors do not as yet display any felicity.

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