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Eth. DELPHI (Δελφοί: Eth. Δελφός, fem. Δελφίς, Δελφή; Adj. Δελφικός: Kastri), a town in Phocis, and one of the most celebrated places in the Hellenic world in consequence of its oracle of Apollo.


The situation of Delphi is one of the most striking and sublime in all Greece. It lies in the narrow vale of the Pleistus, which is shut in on one side by Mount Parnassus, and on the other by Mount Cirphis. At the foot of Parnassus is a lofty wall of rocks, called Phaedriades in antiquity, and rising 2000 feet above the level of the sea. This rocky barrier faces the south, and from its extremity two lower ridges descend towards the Pleistus. The rocky ground between these two ridges also slopes down towards the river, and in about the middle of the semicircular recess thus formed lay the town of Delphi, occupying the central area of a great natural theatre, to which its site is compared by the ancient writers. (Οἱ Δελφοὶ, πετρῶδες [p. 1.761]χωρίον, θεατροειδὲς, κατὰ κορνφὴν ἔχων τὸ μαντεῖον καὶ τὴν πόλιν, Strab. ix. p.418; media saxi rupes in formam theatri recessit, Justin, 24.6.) The northern barrier of the Phaedriades is cleft towards the middle into two stupendous cliffs, between which issues the far-famed Castalian spring, which flows down the hill into the Pleistus. The ancient town lay on both sides of the stream, but the greater part of it on the left or western bank, on which stands the modern village of Kastrí. Above the town was the sanctuary of the god, immediately under the Phaedriades.

Delphi was, so to speak, shut in on all sides from the rest of the world, and could not have been seen by any of the numerous pilgrims who visited it, till they had crossed one of its rocky barriers, when all its glories burst suddenly upon their view. On its northern side were the Phaedriades; on its eastern and western sides, the two lower ridges projecting from the Phaedriades towards the Pleistus; while on the other side of the river towards the south rose the range of Mt. Cirphis. Three roads led to Delphi; one from Boeotia,--the celebrated Schiste,--which passed through the eastern of two ridges mentioned above; and two others from the west, crossing the only two openings in the western ridge. Of these two the more northerly led from Amphissa, and the more southerly from Crissa, the modern Chrysó, which was the one taken by the pilgrims coming from Cirrha. Traces of the ancient carriage-road from Crissa to Delphi may still be seen. Delphi was fortified by nature, on the north, east, and west, by the Phaedriades and the two projecting ridges: it was only undefended on the south. On this side it was first fortified by a line of walls by Philomelus, who also erected two fortresses to command its two approaches from the west. The circuit of the city was only 16 stadia, or a little more than two miles. (Strab. l.c.) A topographical description of the city is given below.

The Delphian valley, or that part of the vale of the Pleistus lying at the foot of the town, is mentioned in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (284), under the name of κοίλη βῆσσα; and is called by Pindar κοιλόπεδον νάπος (Pyth. 5.50), and Ἀπολλωνία νάπα (Pyth. 6.10), and by Strabo also νάπη (Strab. l.c.).


The town of Delphi owes its origin as well as its importance to the oracle of Apollo. According to some traditions, it had belonged to other divinities before it passed into the hands of Apollo. In Aeschylus it is represented as held in succession by Gaia, Themis, and the Titanian Phoebe, the last of whom gave it to Phoebus, when he came from Delos. (Eum. 1, seq.) Pausanias says that it was originally the joint oracle of Poseidon and Ge; that Ge gave her share to Themis, and Themis to Apollo; and that the latter obtained from Poseidon the other half by giving him in exchange the island of Calaureia. (Paus. 10.5.. § 6, seq.) The proper name of the oracle was PYTHO (Πύθω); and in Homer that of Delphi, which was subsequently the name of the town, does not occur. In the Iliad the temple of Phoebus Apollo at the rocky Pytho is already filled with treasures (Il. 9.405); and in the catalogue of the ships the inhabitants of Pytho are mentioned in the same line with those of Cyparissus (Il. 9.405). In the Odyssey Agamemnon consults the oracle at Pytho (Od. 8.80). It thus appears in the most ancient times as a sacred spot; but the legend of its foundation is first related in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. In this poem Apollo, seeking for a spot where he may found an oracle, comes at last, to Crissa under Mount Parnassus. He is charmed with the solitude and sublimity of the place, and forthwith commences the erection of a temple, which is finished under the superintendence of the two brothers Trophonius and Agamedes. He then slays the huge serpent which infested the place; and from the monster rotting (from πύθειν) in the ground, the temple was called Pytho, and the god the Pythian:--

ἐξ οὗ νῦν Πυθὼ κικλήσεται: οἱ δὲ ἄνακτα

Πύθιον καλέουσιν ἐπώνυμον, οὕνεκα κεῖθι
θὐτοῦ πῦσε πέλωρ μένος ὀξέος ἠελίοιο.
Hymn. in Apoll. 372.)
The temple now wanted priests; and the god, beholding a Cretan ship sailing from Cnossus, metamorphosed himself into a dolphin, and brought the vessel into the Crissaean gulf. Here the Cretans landed, and, conducted by the god, founded the town of Crissa, and became the priests of the temple. He taught them to worship him under the name of Apollo Delphinius, because he had met them in the form of a dolphin (Δελφίς). Müller (Dorians, vol. i. p. 238), and many other writers, suppose that this temple was really founded by colonists from Crete, and that the very name Crissa points to a Cretan origin. We, however, are disposed to think that in this, as in so many other cases, the legend has sprung out of an attempt to explain the names; and that it was simply the names of Crissa and Delphi which suggested the story of the Cretan colonists and of the metamorphosis of the god into the dolphin. It is useless to speculate as to what is the real origin of the names of Crissa and Pytho. Many writers derive the latter from πυθέσθαι, “to inquire,” in spite of the difference of the quantity (Πῦθώ, πυθέσθαι); but the similarity of sound between the two words is probably only accidental. Whatever may be thought of the origin of the places, the historical fact worthy of notice is, that Crissa had at first the superintendence of the sanctuary of Pytho, and continued to claim jurisdiction over it even after the Amphictyonic Council held its spring meeting at the temple, and began to regard itself as the guardian of the place. A town gradually sprung up round the sanctuary, the inhabitants of which claimed to administer the affairs of the temple independently of the Crissaeans. Meantime Cirrha, which was originally the sea-port of Crissa, increased at the expense of the latter; and thus Crissa declined in importance, as Cirrha and Delphi augmented, It is probable that Crissa had already sunk into insignificance before the Sacred War in B.C. 595, which ended in the destruction of Cirrha by the order of the Amphictyonic Council, and in the dedication of the Cirrhaean plain to the town. An account of this war is given elsewhere [CRISSA]; and it is only necessary to repeat here, that the spoils of Cirrha were employed by the Amphictyons in founding the Pythian games, which were henceforwards celebrated under the superintendence of the council every four years,--in the former half of every third Olympiad. The first celebration of the Pythian games took place in B.C. 586. The horse races and foot races were celebrated in the maritime plain near the site of Cirrha. The hippodrome continued to be in this [p. 1.762]spot down to the latest times (Paus. 10.37.4); but the stadium, which was still in the maritime plain in the time of Pindar (Pind. P. 11.20, 23), was subsequently removed to the city, where the musical and poetical matches seem to have been always held.

From the time of the destruction of Cirrha, Delphi was indisputably an independent state, whatever may have been its political condition before that time. From this time it appears as the town of Delphi, governed by its own magistrates. The name of Delphi first occurs in one of the most recent of the Homeric hymns (27.14.), and in a fragment of Heraclitus. (Plut. de Pyth. Orac., 100.21, p. 404.) The population of Delphi came from Lycoreia (Λυκώρεια), a town situated upon one of the heights of Parnassus above the sanctuary. This town is said to have been founded by Deucalion, and from it the Delphian nobles, at all events, derived their origin. Hence, Plutarch tells us that the five chief-priests of the god, called Ὅσιοι, were chosen by lot from a number of families who derived their descent from Deucalion. (Strab. ix. pp. 418, 423; Schol. ad Apoll. Rhod. 2.711; Paus. 10.6.2; Plut. Quaest. Graec. 9, p. 380.) The remains of Lycoreia are found at the village of Liákura. Müller conjectures, with much probability, that the inhabitants of Lycoreia were Dorians, who had spread from the Dorian Tetrapolis over the heights of Parnassus. At all events, we know that a Doric dialect was spoken at Delphi; and the oracle always showed a leaning towards the Greeks of the Doric race. Moreover, that the Delphians were of a different race from the Phocians is clear from the antipathy which always existed between the two peoples.

The government of Delphi appears at first to have been in the exclusive possession of a few noble families. They had the entire management of the oracle, and from them were chosen the five Ὅσιοι, or chief-priests of the god, as is mentioned above. These are the persons whom Euripides describes as “sitting near the tripod, the Delphian nobles, chosen by lot” (οἳ πλησίον θάσσουσι τρίποδος . . . . Δελφῶν ἀριστῆς, οὓς ἐκλήρωσεν πάλος, Ion, 415). They are also called by the poet “the lords and princes of the Delphians,” and formed a criminal court, which sentenced by the Pythian decision all offenders against the temple to be hurled from a precipice. (Κοιρανοὶ Πυθικοὶ, 1219; Δελφῶν ἄνακτες, 1222; Πυθία ψῆφος, 1250; from Müller, Dorians, vol. i. p. 240.) From the noble families the chief magistrates were chosen, among whom in early times a king (Plut. Quaest. Graec. 12. p. 383), and afterwards a prytanis, was supreme (Paus. 10.2.2). We also find in inscriptions mention of archons who gave their names to the year, of a senate (Βουλή), and in later times of an agora. (Böckh, Inscr. No. 1687--1724; Müller, Dor. vol. i. p. 192.) The constitution of Delphi and its general condition offered a striking contrast with what we find in other Grecian states. Owing not only its prosperity, but even its very existence, to its oracle, the government was of a theocratic nature. The god possessed large domains, which were cultivated by the slaves of the temple, who are frequently mentioned in inscriptions. (Müller, vol. i. p. 283.) In addition to this, the Delphian citizens received numerous presents from the monarchs and wealthy men who consulted the oracle, while at the same time the numerous sacrifices offered by strangers were sufficient for their support. (Comp. Athen. 4.173.) Hence they became a lazy, ignorant, and sensual people; and their early degeneracy is implied in the tradition of Aesop's death.

An account of the Delphic oracle, of. the mode in which it was consulted, and of its influence in Greece, is given in the Dict. of Ant. (art. Oraculum). It only remains here to trace its history. In the eighth century before the Christian era its reputation was established, not only throughout Hellas, but even among the surrounding nations, which sometimes sent solemn embassies to ask the advice of the god. This wide extension of the influence of the oracle was owing to the fact that almost all Greek colonies were founded with the sanction, and frequently by the express command, of the Pythian Apollo; and thus the colonists carried with them a natural reverence for the patron god of their enterprise. Gyges, the founder of the last Lydian dynasty, who reigned B.C. 716--678, presented valuable gifts to the god (Hdt. 1.13, 14); and Croesus, the last monarch of this race, was one of the greatest benefactors which the god ever had. His numerous and costly presents are specified at length by Herodotus (1.50. seq.). The colonies in Magna Graecia also spread among the inhabitants of Italy a reverence for the Delphic oracle. The Etruscan town of Aylla (Caere) had at Delphi a thesaurus belonging to their state; and the last king of Rome sent to consult the oracle.

In B.C. 548 the temple was destroyed by fire (Paus. 10.5.13), when many of its votive offerings perished or were greatly injured (Hdt. 1.50). The Amphictyons determined that the temple should be rebuilt on a scale of magnificence commensurate with the sanctity of the spot. They decreed that one-fourth of the expense should be borne by the Delphians themselves, and that the remainder should be collected from the other parts of the Hellenic world. The sum required for the building was 300 talents, or 115,0001. sterling; and when it was at length collected, the family of the Alcmaeonidae, then exiles from Athens, took the contract for the execution of the work. They employed as architect Spintharus, the Corinthian, and gained great reputation for their liberality in using Parian marble for the front of the temple in place of. the coarse stone prescribed in the contract. (Hdt. 2.180, 5.62; Paus. l.c.

In B.C. 480 Xerxes sent a detachment of his army to plunder the temple. The Delphians' in alarm sought safety on the heights of Mt. Parnassus, but were forbidden by the god to remove the treasures from his temple. Only sixty Delphians remained behind, but they were encouraged by divine portents; and when the Persians, who came from Phocis by the road Schisté, began to climb the rugged path leading up to the shrine, and had already reached the temple of Athena Pronaea, on a sudden thunder was heard to roll, the warshout sounded from the temple of Athena, and two huge crags rolled down from the mountains, and crushed many to death. Seized with a sudden panic the Persians turned and fled, pursued by two warriors of superhuman size, whom the Delphians affirmed were the two heroes Phylacus and Autonous, whose sanctuaries were near the spot. Herodotus, when he visited Delphi, saw in the sacred enclosure of Athena Pronaea the identical crags which had crushed the Persians; and Ulrichs noticed near the spot large blocks of stone which have rolled down from the summit. (Hdt. 8.35-39; [p. 1.763]Diod. 11.14; Ulrichs, p. 46.) In B.C. 357 the Phocians, who had been sentenced by the Amphictyonic Council to pay a heavy fine on the pretext of their having cultivated a portion of the Cirrhaean plain, were persuaded by Philomelus to complete the sacrilege with which they had been branded by seizing the temple of Delphi itself. The enterprise was successful, and Delphi with all its treasures passed into the hands of the Phocians. Hence arose the celebrated Sacred War, which will be found related in all histories of Greece. The Phocians at first abstained from touching the riches of the temple; but being hard pressed by the Thebans and Locrians, they soon converted the treasures into money for the purpose of paying their troops. When the war was at length brought to a conclusion by Philip of. Macedon, and the temple restored to the custody of the Amphictyons (B.C. 346), its more valuable treasures had disappeared, though it still contained numerous works of art. The Phocians were sentenced to replace, by yearly payments, these treasures, estimated at the sum of 10,000 talents, or nearly two millions and a half sterling. The Phocians, however, were far too poor ever to be able to restore to the shrine any considerable portion of its former wealth. In B.C. 279 the report of its riches tempted the cupidity of Brennus and the Gauls; but they probably were ignorant of the loss it had sustained in the Sacred War. They advanced to the attack by the same road which the Persians had taken, but were repulsed in like manner by almost the some supernatural agency. While the thunder rolled and an earthquake rent the rocks, huge masses of stone rolled down from the mountains and crushed the foe. (Justin, 24.6-8; Paus. 10.23.) The temple was plundered by Sulla, when he robbed those of Olympia and Epidaurus. (Dio Cass. vol. i. p. 49, ed. Reimar.; Diod. Exc. p. 614, ed. Wess.) Strabo describes the temple as very poor in his time (ix. p. 420). It was again rifled by Nero, who carried off 500 brazen statues (Paus. 10.7.1). This emperor, angry with the god, deprived the temple of the Cirrhaean territory, which he distributed among his soldiers, and abolished the oracle. (D. C. 63.14.) But Hadrian, who did so much for the restoration of the Grecian cities and temples, did not neglect Delphi; and under his reign and that of the Antonines it appeared probably in a state of greater splendour than had been the case from the time of the Sacred War. In this condition it was seen and described by Pausanias; and we learn from Plutarch that the Pythia still continued to give answers (de Pyth. Orac. 100.24). Coins of Delphi are found down to the time of Caracalla. Constantine carried off several of its works of art to adorn his new capital. (Sozom. H. E. 2.15.) The oracle was consulted by Julian, but was finally silenced by Theodosius.


AA. Walls of Philomelus.
BB. The Phaedriades.
C. Sepulchres.
D. Three Temples.
E. Temple of Athena Pronoea.
F. Sanctuary of Phylacus.
G. Gymnasium.
H. Sanctuary of Autonous.
I. Nauplia? Rodhiní.
K. Hyampeia. Flembúko.
L. Fountain of Castalia.
M. Fountain of Delphusa. Kerná.
N. Synedrion.


1. The Temple.
2. The Great Altar.
3. Thesauri
4. Bouleuterion.
5. Stoa of the Athenians.
6. Grave of Neoptolemus.
7. Fountain of Cassotis.
8. Lesche.
9. Theatre.


In describing Delphi we shall follow the steps of Pausanias. He entered Delphi on its eastern side, having come by the road called Schisté, On the side of the road before the town was the ancient cemetery, of which there are still numerous remains: many of the graves are cut out of the face of the rock. Upon entering the town Pausanias saw four temples--in succession: the first was in ruins; the [p. 1.764]second was empty; in the third were a few statues of Roman emperors; and the fourth was the temple of Athena Pronoea. (Paus. 10.8.7.) The last is described by Demosthenes as a very large and beautiful temple; and here sacrifices were offered before consulting the oracle of Apollo. This goddess is also called Pronaea from her dwelling in front of the temple of Apollo, that is, upon the road leading to the main entrance of the latter. (Dem. c. Aristog. i. p. 780; Aeschin. c. Ctesiph. p. 69; Aristid. Or. in Minerv. p. 26; Herod. 1.92, 8.37; Diod. 11.14; Aeschyl. Eum. 21, Παλλὰς Προναία δ᾽ ἐν λόγοις πρεσβεύεται.) The site of the four temples is marked by an extensive platform resting upon polygonal walls, on which lie fragments of pillars, triglyphs, and other remains of temples, which give to the place the name of Marmariá.

A little above the temple of Athena Pronoea Pausanias saw the sanctuary of Phylacus, a native hero, who along with his comrade Autonous assisted the Delphians, both when the Persians and the Gauls made an attempt upon the temple. The masses of stone still lying upon this spot have been already mentioned. A short distance further was the Gymnasium to the left of the road, the site of which is now occupied by the monastery of the Panaghía, surrounded by olives and mulberry trees. In the church of the monastery two ancient inscriptions have been found (Böckh, Inscr. 1687, 1723), as well as triglyphs and other architectural remains. Pausanias says, that on turning to the left from the Gymnasium the distance down to the river Pleistus appeared to him to be only three stadia, but it is considerably more. The Pleistus is now called Xeropótamos, because it is dry in the summer months.

“In ascending from the gymnasium to the temple of Apollo, the water of Castalia was on the right of the road.” (Paus. 10.8.9.) The far-famed fountain of Castalia issues from the fissure between the two lofty cliffs with peaked summits, of which we have already briefly spoken in describing the site of Delphi. The spring rises close to the eastern of the two cliffs, now called Flembúko. In antiquity it bore the name of HYAMPEIA (Ὑάμπεια), as appears from the statement of Herodotus, that the sanctuary of Autonous was near the Castalia at the foot of the Hypampeian summit. (Hdt. 8.39.) From this height criminals were hurled, who had been guilty of any act of impiety towards the Delphian sanctuary. (Schol. ad Lucian. Phal. 1.6; Schol. ad Aristoph. Vesp. 1444; del. Var. Hist. 11.5; Eur. Ion 1222, 1266.) After the murder of Aesop, who was hurled from the Hyampeia, the Delphians, out of respect to his memory, transferred the place of punishment to the peak NAUPLIA (Ναυπλία, Plut. de Ser. Num. Vind. 100.12; comp. Hdt. 2.134). This has been usually supposed to be the western of the two summits, now named Rodhiní; but there is no authority for this statement, and Ulrichs transfers the name to the steep rocks on the western side of the town, from which many Turkish prisoners were hurled in the war of independence.

The celebrity of the two peaks through which the Castalia flows led the poets and later writers to speak of two summits of Parnassus, although one, namely that of Lycoreia, towers above all others. Some writers even seem to have supposed that the two peaks of the Castalia were actually the summits of Parnassus itself, although the latter rises in reality several thousand feet above them:-- “Mons ibi verticlibus petit arduus castra duobus,
Nomine Parnassus, superatque cacumine nubes.

Ov. Met. 1.316; comp. Lucan 5.71; Stat. Theb. 7.346; Lucian, Contempl. 5; Nonn. Dionys. xiii. p. 358.) The two peaks were sacred to Dionysus. Above them was the Corycian cave, of which we shall speak below, which also belonged to Dionysus. and his attendants, the Corycian nymphs: hence the name of Corycian was sometimes given to the two summits themselves:-- “σὲ δ᾽ ὑπὲρ διλόφου πέτρας
στέροψ ὄπωπε λιγνὺς, ἔνθα Κωρύκιαι Νύμφαι
στείχουσι Βακχίδες,
Κασταλίας τε νᾶμα. ῾σοπη. αντιγ. 1126.᾿
σέβω δὲ νύμφας, ἔνθα Κωρυκὶς πέτρα
κοίλη, φίλορνις, δαιμόνων ἀναστροφή:
Βρόμιος δ᾽ ἔχει τὸν χῶρον.
” (Aesch. Eum. 22.) “πόθι Νύσας ἄρα τᾶς θηροτρόφου θυρσοφορεῖς
θιάσους, Διόνυς᾿, κορυφαῖς Κωρυκίαις;

Eur. Ba. 556.)

The semicircular range of rocks, to which the two summits belonged, bore the general name of PHAEDRIADES (Φαιδριάδες), as was remarked above. Diodorus gives this name to the western rocks, where Philomelus gained a victory over the Locrians (16.28); and the eastern rock Hyampeia, from which Aesop is said to have been precipitated, is included by Suidas among the Phaedriades (Suid. s. vv. Αἴσωπος, Φαιδρίας). They faced nearly due south, and thus received the rays of the sun during the most brilliant part of the day. It was apparently owing to this circumstance that they were called Phaedriades, or “Resplendent.” Receiving the full rays of the sun, they reflected them upon the temple and works of art below; and hence Ion represents himself as “serving the livelong day beneath the sun's bright wing” (παναμέριος ἅμ̓ ἀελίου πτέρυγι θοῇ λατρεὕων, Eur. Ion 122; from Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. i. p. 188). In the in-accessible rocks of the Phaedriades innumerable birds build their nests; and eagles, vultures, and other birds of prey constantly hover over the valley below. The same was the case in ancient times; and accordingly, in Euripides, Ion,when about to discharge his daily service in the temple, carries with him a bow and arrows in order to keep off these intruders. (Eur. Ion 154, seq.)

The fissure between the two summits is the bed of a torrent, which forms in seasons of rain a fine cascade of about 200 feet in height. “At the lower extremity of the dry torrent bed, just where it emerges from between the cliffs, issue the waters of the Castalian spring, oozing at first in scarce perceptible streamlets from among the loose stones, but swelling into a considerable brook within not many yards of their first appearance above ground.” (Mure.) It flows through a hollow dell down to the Pleistus, passing by the monastery of the Panaghiá on its left or eastern side.

The Castalia was the holy water of the Delphian temple. All persons who came to consult the oracle, or who wished to pray to the god before engaging in any of the matches of the Pythian games, or who visited Delphi for any religious object whatsoever, were obliged to purify themselves at this sacred fountain. (Heliod. Aeth. 2.26; Pind. P. 4.290, 5.39; Plut. Arist. 20.) Even the servants of the temple used, the water for the same purpose. (Eur. Ion 94.) The bathing of the hair seems, to have [p. 1.765]been the chief form of the purification, and hence this is attributed by the poets to Apollo himself:-- “ἔτι δὲ Κασταλίας ὕδωρ
ἐπιμένει με κόμας ἐμὰς
” (Eur. Phoen. 222.) “Qui rore puro Castaliae lavit
Crines solutos

Hor. Carm. 3.4.61; comp. Ov. Met. 1.371; Stat. Theb. 1.698). There can be no doubt that those who visited Delphi for the purpose of being purified from murder bathed their whole body in the Castalian spring. There are still remains of a bath cut out of the rock, which received the waters of the spring, and to which steps led down. It is called by Ulrichs the “Bath of the Pythian Pilgrims.” Preceding writers had given it the name of the “Bath of the Pythia,” an appellation which has arisen from the erroneous statement of a Scholiast (ad Eurip. Phoen. 230). The aged women, who were elected to the office of Pythia from the Delphian families, appear never to have bathed in the fountain, or at all events only upon their consecration to their prophetic office, since they lived in the temple without coming in contact with any profane objects, and consequently needed no further purification. In the Ion of Euripides the Pythia is in the adytum before sun-rise, and in the Eumenides of Aeschylus there is no mention of the bath of the Pythia before she ascends the tripod.

In later times the Castalian spring was said to impart to those who drank of it poetic inspiration; but this is an invention of the Roman poets, who appear to have attributed to it this power from Apollo being the protector of the Muses:--“Mihi flavus Apollo Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.”

Ov. Am. 1.15 35; comp. Stat. Silv. 5.5, init.; Martial, 12.3. 11.)

The Castalia is now called the fountain of St. John, from a small chapel of St. John which stands close to its source.

Near the spring there is at present a plane tree, which is the only one in Kastrí and the immediate neighbourhood. It is conjectured by Ulrichs to be the very tree celebrated in antiquity as the one which Agamemnon was said to have planted at Delphi (Theophr. Hist. Plaut. 4.13. s. 14), since it seems scarcely possible to assign any limits to the life of plane trees in Greece, especially when they grow by the side of perennial streams.

The road from the Castalian spring led to the principal entrance into the Pythian sanctuary. The sanctuary, which contained several other buildings besides the temple, was called τὸ ἱερὸν, τὸ τέμενος and Πύθω in a narrower sense. It was enclosed by a wall, named ἱερὸς περίβολος. Pausanias entered the sacred enclosure by the principal gate, which faced the east, and quitted it by a western door near the theatre. He remarks that there were numerous means of exit, which was unusual in Grecian sanctuaries. He describes the sanctuary as occupying the highest part of the city, and the peribolus as of great size (10.8.9). It appears to have been nearly in the form of a triangle, of which the basis lying towards the south is marked by the ruins called Hellenicó. The peasants gave the ruins this name, because they, regarded them as the wall of a fortress; and the modern name of Kastrí has arisen out of the belief that a fortress once existed here. Ulrichs also discovered a portion of the northern corner half-way between the church of Nicolaus and the fountain Kerná. From the nature of the ground, which is a steep declivity, the buildings in the sacred enclosure must have stood upon terraces; and it was probably upon the walls of these terraces that many of the inscriptions were cut which we now find at Delphi.

The most remarkable objects in the sacred enclosure lay between the principal or eastern entrance and the temple. Both Pausanias and the strangers in Plutarch's Dialogue on the Pythian Oracle went from the Castalia to the temple by the same way; and, consequently, the objects which, they both agree in describing must be placed between the principal entrance and the temple.

Upon entering the enclosure from the eastern gate the first objects seen were statues of athletes and other dedicatory offerings, of which Pausanias has given us a long account (10.9, seq.). Their num. ber was very great. Even in Pliny's: time they were not less than 3000. (Plin. Nat. 34.7.7.) Nero alone, as we have already seen, carried off 500 bronze statues, (Paus. 10.7.1.) Many of them could be seen, rising above the peribolus, by persons ascending the eastern road to the sanctuary; (Justin; 24.7; Polyaen. 7.35.2.)

Pausanias and Plutarch next mention the Stone of the Sibyl, which was a rock rising above the ground, and was so called because it was the seat occupied by the first Sibyl. (Paus. 10.12.1; Plut. de Pyth. Or. 9; Clem. Alex. Strom, i. p. 304.)

Near the Stone were the Thesauri (θησαυροί), or treasuries, which did not stand on a single plat-form as at Olympia, but were built separately about the Stone as far as the great altar. They were small buildings, partly above and partly below the ground, in which were kept the more valuable offerings, and such as could not be exposed without injury to the air. The most celebrated of all the treasuries was that of the Corinthians, said to have been built by Cypselus, in which were preserved, among other things, the gold and silver offerings of Gyges. (Paus. 10.13.5; Hdt. 1.14, 4.162; Plut. Sept. Sap. Conviv. 21, de Pyth. Or. 12.) The Stoa; built by the Athenians, also served the purpose of a treasury. (Paus. 10.1.6.) It stood apparently east of the Stone of the Sibyl.

Near the Stoa of the Athenians was the Bouleuterion (βουλευτήριον) or Senate-House of the Delphians. (Plut. de Pyth. Or. 9; Clem. Alex. Strom, i. p. 304.)

In front of the temple, and under the open heaven, stood the great altar of Apollo, where the daily sacrifices were offered. It is probably the same as the altar mentioned by Herodotus (2.135) as a dedicatory offering of the Chians. It is called by Pausanias βωμὸς μέγας (10.14.7), by Euripides βωμός (Ion, 1275, 1306, 1314), βωμοί (422), and βωμὸς Θεοῦ (1280). The court in which it stood is called by Euripides θυμέλη (114) and θυμέλαι (46). Near the altar stood a brazen wolf, dedicated by the Delphians themselves, (Paus. 10.14.7.)

We now come to the temple itself. It appears from the existing fragments of columns that the exterior was of the Doric order, and the interior of the Ionic. It would seem to have been a hexastyle temple, and smaller by one-seventh than the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Still it was reckoned one of [p. 1.766]the largest in Greece (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. 7.11), and vied in beauty with the temples of Athens (Eur. Ion 184; Pind. P. 7.9). It has been already related that it was erected by the Alcmaeonidae, under the superintendence of the Corinthian architect Spintharus, after it had been burnt down in B.C. 548, and that the front was built of Parian marble, while the remainder was of ordinary stone. The tympana of the pediments of the two porticoes were filled with sculptures, the one with statues of Artemis, Leto, Apollo, the Muses, and the setting sun, and the other with those of Dionysus and the Thyiades, both of them the works of Athenian artists. (Paus. 10.19.4.) Euripides has described five of the metopes, probably those on the eastern front. The subjects were, Hercules and Iolaus slaying the Lernaean hydra, Bellerophon killing the Chimaera, Zeus killing Mimas, Pallas killing Enceladus, and Bacchus another of the giants. (Eur. Ion 190-218.) As in the Parthenon, there were gilded shields upon the architraves of the two fronts beneath the metopes: those in the eastern front were dedicated by the Athenians from the spoils of the Persians at Marathon, and those on the western front by the Aetolians from the spoils of the Gauls. (Paus. 10.19.4.)

The interior of the temple consisted of three divisions, the Pronaus (πρόναος), the Cella (ναός, σηκός), and the Adytum, where the oracles were delivered (ἄδυτον, μαντεῖον, χρηστήριον).

In the Pronaus stood a brazen statue of Homer (Paus. 10.24.2), and also, in the time of Herodotus, the large silver crater presented by Croesus (Hdt. 1.51). On the walls of the Pronaus were inscribed, by order of the Amphictyons, in golden letters, the celebrated sayings of the Seven Wise Men, such as “Know thyself,” “Nothing too much.” (Plut. de Garrul. 17; Paus. 10.24.1; Plin. Nat. 7.33.) Here also was set up in wood the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, which, according to tradition, was dedicated in common by the Seven Wise Men. It was a simple E, which in the ancient Greek writing also represented the diphthong εἰ. There were various interpretations of its meaning, of which Plutarch has given an account in his treatise upon the subject.

The Cella was supported by Ionic columns, as appears from existing fragments. In it Pausanias saw an altar of Poseidon, to whom the oracle belonged in the most ancient times, statues of two Moerae or Fates, together with statues of Zeus and Apollo as leaders of the Fates, the hearth upon which the priest of Apollo slew Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and the iron chair of Pindar, on which he is said to have sung his hymns to Apollo. (Paus. 10.24.4, seq.)

On the hearth burnt a perpetual fire, and near it was the Omphalos, or Navel-Stone, which was supposed to mark the middle point of the earth. (Aeschyl. Choëph. 1034, seq.; Φοιβήϊος γᾶς μεσόμφαλος ἑστία, Eur. Ion 461.) According to tradition, two eagles, which had been sent by Zeus, one from the east, and the other from the west, met at this point, and thus determined it to be the centre of the earth. (Pind. P. 4.131, 6.3; Strab. ix. p.419.) The Omphalos was a white stone, adorned with stripes of various kinds, and upon it were the representations of the two eagles (ὀμφαλός . . . ταινιωμένος, Strab. l.c.; στέμμασί γ᾽ ἐνδυτὸς, Eur. Ion 224; Paus. 10.16.3). It is frequently represented in vase-paintings, in which Orestes is exhibited sitting upon it, exactly as described by Aeschylus. (Eum. 40; comp. Müller, Aeschl. Eum. § 27.) The site of the Omphalos is not mentioned by Pausanias. It was clearly in the interior of the temple, for in Aeschylus the Pythia, in going through the temple to the Adytum, perceives Orestes seated upon the Omphalos (Eum. l.c.). It probably stood, along with the sacred hearth, as nearly as possible in the centre of the Cella. The sacred hearth was usually in the centre of the house or the temple. Thus, the altar in the middle of the palace at Mycenae is called by Clytaemnestra μεσόμφαλος ἑστία. (Aesch. Ag. 1056.)

The temple was hypaethral, that is, there was an opening in the roof of the Cella. This follows from the narrative of Justin, who relates that, when the temple was attacked by the Gauls, the priests saw the god descend into the sanctuary through the open part of the roof ( “per culminis aperta fastigia,” Justin, 24.8). In fact, all temples which had in the interior an altar on which sacrifices were offered, or a hearth on which fire was kept burning, were obliged to have some opening for carrying off the smoke.

The Adytum, in which the oracles were delivered, was a subterraneous chamber, which no one was allowed to enter except the priests, or those to whom special permission was given. That the Adytum was under-ground appears from the expressions by which it is frequently designated in the ancient writers, and which refer not only to natural caves and grottoes, but to chambers built under-ground. (σάθεά τ᾽ ἄντρα δράκοντος, Eur. Phoen. 232; ἄντρον, Strab. ix. p.419; τὸ τοῦ κληθέντος Πύθωνος σπήλαιον, Athen. 15.701c.; “specus,” Liv. 1.56; “Castalium antrum,” Ov. Met. 3.14; “caverna,” Lucan 5.135, 162.) It is described as situated in the inmost part of the temple, and is frequently called μυχός. (Paus. 10.24.5; μυχός, Aesch. Eum. 39.) No account of it is given by Pausanias, who simply says that “few are admitted into the inmost part of the temple, and that in it there is a second statue of Apollo, made of gold.” (Paus. l.c.) Ulrichs conjectures that the entrance into the Adytum may have been either on the western side of the Cella, opposite the great door of the temple; or on the northern side, where an excavation might be made in the rock in the direction of the fountain Cassotis, which flowed into the Adytum.

Stephanus B. says (s. v. Δελφοί) that the Adytum was built of five stones, by the celebrated Trophonius and Agamedes, who appear in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as the original architects of the temple. And it is natural to conclude that the Adytum and the polygonal substruction of the temple escaped the fire which destroyed the building in the 58th Olympiad.

In the inmost part of the Adytum stood a tripod over a deep chasm in the earth, whence proceeded an intoxicating vapour, which was supposed to inspire the priestess with the gift of prophecy. (Strab. l.c.) This opening is described by various names in the ancient writers. (χάσμα, Diod. 16.26; γῆς στόμα, Stobaeus, Ecl. 1.42; Πυθικὸν στόμιον, Lucian, Ner. 10, D. C. 63.14; “hiatus,” Lucan 5.82; “terrae foramen,” 24.6.) According to Plutarch this vapour arose from a fountain (de Def. Or. 50, de Pyth. Or. 17), which is said by Pausanias to have been the fountain Cassotis, that disappeared beneath the ground in the Adytum (10.24.7). Pausanias also relates that the oracle [p. 1.767]was discovered in consequence of some shepherds, who had driven their flocks to the spot, becoming inspired by the vapour and uttering prophecies (10.5.7). The Pythia sat upon the tripod when she gave the oracles of Apollo, and the object of it was to prevent her falling into the chasm. (Diod. 16.26.) Between the three legs of the tripod hung a circular vessel, called λέβης and cortina, in which were preserved the bones and teeth of the Pythian serpent. (Dionys. Per. 441, and Eustath. ad loc.; Serv. ad Virg. Aen. 3.360, 6.317.) For a further description of this tripod, see Dict. of Ant. art. Tripos. No vapour is now found issuing from any part of the Delphian rocks.

Upon leaving the temple, we again follow Panusanias in his account of the remaining objects, which lay north of the temple within the peribolus. Pausanias, upon going out of the temple, turned to the left, where he noticed a peribolus enclosing the tomb of Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, to whom the Delphians offered sacrifices every year. (Paus. 10.24.6; Strab. ix. p.421.) He was said to have been murdered in the temple, near the sacred hearth; but the manner of his death was differently related. Above the ruins of the temple, and a little to the east, Ulrichs noticed the remains of an ancient wall, which he supposed to be a part of the peribolus of the tomb of Neoptolemus.

Still higher up above the tomb, was the stone which Cronus was said to have swallowed instead of his son Zeus, and afterwards to have vomited up. (Paus. l.c.) Upon leaving the stone, and returning as it were to the temple, Pausanias came to the fountain Cassotis (Κασσοτίς), the access to which was through a small wall built near it (10.24.7). Ulrichs identifies Cassotis with the fountain near the church of St. Nicolaus, before which are some remains of an ancient polygonal wall. Pausanias further says, as we have already seen, that the Cassotis flowed into the Adytum. Accordingly, we find that the fountain of St. Nicolaus lies immediately above the ruins of the temple; and lower down the hill we now find some water springing out of the ground at the present Hellenieó, which water is probably the same that once flowed into the Adytum, but has now made an exit for itself below, in consequence of being buried by the ruins of the temple. All previous travellers had identified the Cassotis with the fountain Kerná, which flows between the ruins of the theatre and the Stadium; but, in addition to other objections that might be urged, it is impossible to believe that the peribolus of the temple extended so far.

The name Cassotis occurs only in Pausanias, but the fountain itself is mentioned in other ancient writers. It is mentioned in the Homeric Hymn as a beautifully flowing fountain, where Apollo slew the serpent (in Apoll. 300); and Euripides alludes to it as watering the sacred grove surrounding this temple (Ion, 112). This sacred grove, which is frequently mentioned by the ancient writers, consisted of laurel-trees and myrtles, but one laurel-tree in particular was called pre-eminently the Pythian laurel, and branches of it were used for sacred purposes within the temple.

Above the Cassotis was the LESCHE (Λέσχη) of the Delphians (Paus. 10.25.1), part of the stone floor of which was discovered by Ulrichs in the out-buildings of a house above the fountain of St. Nicolaus. Leschae were public buildings, in which persons might meet together and converse, since private houses were generally too small for such a purpose. The Delphian Lesche was adorned with two large paintings by Polygnotus, dedicatory offirings of the Cnidians; the painting on the right hand represented the capture of Troy and the departure of the Greeks, and that on the left the descent of Ulysses into Hades. A long description of these pictures is given by Pausanias (10.25-31; comp. Plut. de Def. Or. 6, 47; Plin. Nat. 35.9. s. 35). The figure of Cassandra was particularly admired. (Lucian, Imag. 7.)

The site of the theatre is marked by a high wall, a little to the west of the Cassotis. This wall, which is covered by several inscriptions, was the southern wall of the theatre, which, as usual with Grecian theatres, was built in a semicircular form upon the slope of the hill. The inner part of the theatre is almost entirely covered, and only a small portion of the upper seats is visible. It appears from an inscription that the theatre lay within the Pythian sanctuary (Böckh, Inscr. No. 1710), and according to Pausanias it adjoined the wall of the enclosure (10.32.1). Accordingly, the ruins of the theatre determine the extent of the enclosure to the northwest. In the theatre the musical contests of the Pythian games were carried on, from the earliest to the latest times. (Plut. de Def. Or. 8.)

Ascending from the Peribolus (ἐπαναβάντι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ περιβόλου, Paus. 10.32.1), Pausanias came to a statue of Dionysus, and then to the Stadium, situated in the highest part of the city. It was built of Parnassian stone, but was adorned with Pentelic marble by Herodes Atticus. (Paus. l.c.; Philostr. Vit. Sophist. ii. p. 550.) There are still considerable remains of the Stadium, now called Lákkoma, and its whole length may be distinctly traced. Many of the seats remain, composed of the native rock; but the Pentelic marble with which it was decorated by Herodes Atticus is no longer found. It has been already mentioned that the Stadium was originally in the maritime plain, where it continued to be in the time of Pindar (Pind. P. 11.20, 73); and we do not know when it was removed to the city.

It has been shown above that the large fountain Kerna near the Stadium was not the Castalia. There can be little doubt that the ancient name of Kerná was DELPHUSA (Δελφοῦσα), which we learn from Stephanus B. was the fountain of the place (s. v. Δελφοί). The Castalia, from its position, could supply only the lower and eastern part of the city; and that the Pylaea, in the western part of the city, was well provided with water is expressly stated by Plutarch (de Pyth. Or. 29). It is not improbable that Κερνᾶ, the modern name of the fountain, is only a corruption of the ancient κρήνη.

Pylaea (Πυλαία) was a suburb of Delphi, on the road to Crissa. It derived its name from the meeting of the Amphictyonic Council in this place, the council, as is well known, being called Pylaea. In the time of Plutarch, Pylaea was provided with “temples, synedria, and fountains.” The synedria appear to have been built in later times for the use of the Amphictyons; and the two ancient walls supporting the artificial platform, upon which the chapel of St. Elias stands, are probably the remains of such a building. (Plut. de Pyth. Or. 29; Dion Chrysost. Or. lxxvii. p. 414.) A little above the chapel of St. Elias, in the direction of the Stadium, there are some ancient sepulchres cut out of the rock.

It was upon approaching the suburb of Pylaea that Eumenes was attacked by the conspirators, for the [p. 1.768]buildings mentioned by Livy are evidently those of Pylaea ( “escendentibus ad templum a Cirrha, priusquam perveniretur ad frequentia aedificiis loca,” Liv. 42.15).

Above Delphi was the celebrated cave called CORYCIUM (τὸ Κωρύκιον ἄντρον, Corycian Cave), distant, according to Leake, about 7 miles from the city, to the northeastward, and about the same distance to the north-west of Arákhova. The usual way from Kastrí to the heights of Parnassus leads past the Stadium, and then turns more to the west than the ancient path, which ascended the mountain immediately above the city. The ancient way was an astonishing work. It was a zigzag path, consisting of more than a thousand steps cut out of the hard rock, and forming an uninterrupted flight of steps to the highlands above. There are still considerable remains of it, but it is now seldom used, as the modern path is easier. It takes about two hours to reach the highlands of Parnassus, which are divided by hills and mountain-summits into a number of larger and smaller valleys and ravines, partly covered with forests of pine and fir, and partly cultivated as arable and pasture land. This district extends about 16 miles in a westerly direction from the foot of the highest summit. It formed the most valuable part of the territory of Delphi. Leake describes it as “a country of pasture, interspersed with firs, and peopled with shepherds and their flocks,” . and remarks that he “occasionally passed fields of wheat, barley, and oats all yet green, though it was the 27th of July, and the harvest in the plains of Boeotia had been completed a month before.”

The Corycian cave is situated in the mountain on the northern side of the valley. It is thus described by Leake:--“We ascended more. than half-way to its summit, when a small triangular entrance presented itself, conducting into the great chamber of the cavern, which is upwards of 200 feet in length, and about 40 high in the middle. Drops of water from the roof had formed large calcareous crystallizations rising at. the bottom, and others were suspended from every part of the roof and sides. The inner part of this great hall is rugged and irregular; but after climbing over some. rocks, we arrived at another small opening leading into a second chamber, the length of which is near 100 feet, and has a direction nearly at a right angle with the outer cavern. In this inner apartment there is again a narrow opening, but inaccessible without a ladder; at the foot of the ascent to it is a small natural opening.” Pausanias says (10.32.2) that there were 60 stadia from Delphi to a brazen statue, from whence it was: easier to ascend to the cavern on foot than on a horse and mule; and, accordingly, Leake supposes the statue to have stood at the foot of the mountain, since the distance from thence to Delphi is nearly that mentioned by Pausanias. The latter writer remarks that this cave is larger than any of the other celebrated caverns which he had seen, and that a person can proceed a very long way through it even without a torch. He adds that it was sacred to Pan and the Nymphs, which is also attested by other ancient writers, and is confirmed by an inscription found in the cave. (Strab. ix. p.417; Aesch. Eum. 22; Böckh, Inscr. No. 1728; Raikes, in Walpole's Collection, vol. i. p. 314.). Pan and the Nymphs were regarded as the companions of Dionysus, whose orgies were celebrated upon these heights. [See above, p. 764b.] When the Persiras were marching upon Delphi, the inhabitants took refuge in this cave (Hdt. 8.36), and it has been used for the same purpose by the inhabitants of Arákhova in recent times.

According to Ulrichs, the Corycian cave is now called Σαρανταύλι by the peasants, from its being supposed to contain 40 chambers (from σαράντα, τεσσαράκοντα αὐλαί).

Pausanias says, that “from the Corycian cave it is difficult even for a well-girt man to reach the summits of Parnassus; that they were above the clouds; and that upon them the Thyiades perform their frantic rites in honour of Dionysus and Apollo” (10.32.7). The way from the Corycian cave to the highest summit of Parnassus turns to the north-east. The summit which the traveller at last reaches, but which is only the second in height, is called Gerontóbrachos ( Γεροντόβραχος). On. its northern and eastern sides lay great masses of snow, which never melt. Opposite to it, towards the east, there rises in a conical form the highest summit of Parnassus, upwards. of 8000 feet in, height, called Lykéri by the peasants, who consider it the highest point of the world, from which the, Polis (i. e. Constantinople) may be seen.

Parnassus, with its many summits and highlands, is called by the inhabitants Liákura (Λιάκουρα), a word which is usually supposed to be a corruption of Λυκώρεια, the ancient name of the highest summit of Parnassus. But Ulrichs considers Liákura an Albanian word, observing that ancient Greek words, the roots of which have retained their meaning, are never changed so much in the modern Greek language, and that Λυκέρι, the name of the highest summit, is the representative of the old word Λυκώρειον, since modern Greek words ending in ι are shortened forms of the termination--ιον or--ειον. Stephanus B. (s. v. Λυκώρεια) mentions a Lycoreium, which appears to have been a sanctuary of the Lycorian Zeus, whose altar was on the highest summit of Parnassus, where Deucalion is said to have landed after the Deluge. (Lucian, Tim. 3; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 9.70; Apollod. 1.7.2.)


The antiquities of Athens for a long time engrossed the attention of travellers; and so little was known of Delphi, that when Spon visited Greece in 1676 he first looked for the ruins of the city at Sálona, the ancient Amphissa. He afterwards discovered the site of Delphi, but erroneously supposed, the temple to have stood upon the same site as the church of St. Elias; he rightly identified the Castalian fountain and the position of the gymnasium. A more accurate account of the ruins of Delphi was given by Chandler (A.D. 1765), who determined more correctly the site of the temple, and published several inscriptions which he found there. Clark, Dodwell, and Gell did not add much new information; but Leake has given us an account, of the place, distinguished by his usual sagacity and learning, which is far superior to any previous description. (Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 551.) Still even his accurate account has been superseded by the fuller description of Ulrichs, who passed several weeks at Delphi in 1838, and published the results of his investigations under the title of Reisen und Forschungen in Griechenland, Bremen, 1840. To this valuable work we are indebted for [p. 1.769]a considerable part of the preceding article. The modern works relating to the temple of Delphi are enumerated in the Dict. of Ant. art. Oraculum. The inscriptions discovered by K. O. Müller at Delphi are published and illustrated by Curtius, Anecdota Delphica, Berol. 1843.


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