This spring, I got the chance to stay in Delphi while participating at the Delphi Economic Forum 2023. So besides discussing the importance of Ancient Greek education at the Forum’s Classics and Culture section, I took the opportunity to film this video and show you some of Delphi’s ancient highlights: I hope you like it!
χαίρετε! ἐγὼ σήμερόν εἰμι ἐν τοῖς Δελφοῖς, παρὰ τῷ ἐνδοξοτάτῳ μαντείῳ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος. ἐνθάδε ἡ Πυθία ἐμαντεύετο καθημένη ἐπὶ τρίποδος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, μάλιστα τοῖς μέγα τι δυναμένοις. παραδείγματος ἕνεκα, τῷ Οἰδίποδι προεῖπεν ὅτι ἀποκτενεῖ τὸν πατέρα, περὶ δὲ τοῦ Σωκράτους εἶπεν ὅτι σοφώτερός ἐστι πάντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ τὸ μαντεῖον εἶπεν· “οἶδα δ’ ἐγὼ ψάμμου τ’ἀριθμὸν καὶ μέτρα θαλάσσης”. σκεψόμεθα οὖν σήμερον, εἰ οὕτως ἀληθῶς ἔχει. τὸ γὰρ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ὀπίσω μου νῦν κεῖται. πρὶν δὲ ἐλθεῖν ἐκεῖ, δεῖ ἡμᾶς λούεσθαι.
Hi! I am today in Delphi, at the world-famous oracle of Apollo. Here the Pythia, sitting on a tripod, gave her prophecies to humans, especially to powerful ones. For example, she foretold Oedipus that he will kill his father, and about Socrates she said that he is wiser than all other men. About itself the oracle said: “I know the number of the sand and the measure of the sea.” We will examine today whether this is true, for the sanctuary of Apollo lies behind me now. But before we go there, we need to bath ourselves.
ἐκ ταύτης τῆς πέτρας ἐξερρύη ποτὲ ἡ Κασταλία πηγὴ εἰς ταύτην τὴν δεξαμενήν. ἐνθάδε οἱ θεωροί, οἱ πυθέσθαι τι βουλόμενοι παρὰ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἐνίψαντο ἵνα καθαροὶ γένοιντο. ἡ δὲ πηγὴ μετήλλαξε τόπον καὶ ἐνθάδε νῦν ἐκρεῖ. νιψώμεθα οὖν καὶ ἡμεῖς.
Out of this rock flowed once the Castalian spring into this basin. Here the envoys, the people who wanted to inquire about something from Apollo, washed themselves so as to become clean. The spring, however, has changed its place and flows now out of here. Let’s wash ourselves, too.
ἀναβαίνομεν νῦν πρὸς τὸ ἱερόν. ἐν δὲ τῇ ὁδῷ, ἰδού, ὃ εὑρήκαμεν· ὁ ὀμφαλὸς τῆς γῆς. λέγουσιν γὰρ ὅτι ὁ Ζεύς, βουλόμενος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δεικνύναι τὸ μέσον τῆς γῆς, τὸν ὀμφαλὸν τῆς γῆς, δύο κατέλυσε ἀετοὺς οἳ ἀκριβῶς ἐνθάδε, ἐν Δελφοῖς, συνήντησαν. ὀπίσω δέ, ὁ θησαυρὸς τῶν Ἀθηνῶν [*Ἀθηναίων].
We are now walking up to the sanctuary. On our way, look, what we have found: the navel of the earth. They say that Zeus, wanting to display to mankind the middle of the earth, the navel of the earth, released two eagles [from the corners of the earth] which came together exactly here, in Delphi. Behind, the treasury of the Athenians.
τοῦτον τὸν θησαυρὸν οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾠκοδόμησαν μετὰ τὴν ἐν Μαραθῶνι μάχην ἐκ τῶν σκύλων τῶν Περσῶν. ἐνθάδε πολλά, πολλὰ σκῦλα ἀνέθεσαν οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι.
This treasury the Athenians built after the Battle of Marathon, out of the war-booty from the Persians. The Athenians dedicated a lot of war-booty here.
ἔτι ἀναβαίνοντες πλησιάζομεν νῦν τῷ ἱερῳ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος. πλησίον δὲ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐστι ἡ στήλη τῶν ὄφεων [παρὰ τῷ Ἡροδότι· “ὁ τρικάρηνος ὄφις”]. ταύτην τὴν στήλην οἱ Ἕλληνες ἀνέθεσαν ὅτε τοὺς Πέρσας ἐνίκησαν. ἐνθάδε δὲ οὐκ ἔστι ἡ ἀληθὴς στήλη, ὅτι ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος ἤνεγκε τὴν ἀληθῆ στήλην εἰς Κωνσταντινούπολιν. ὁρῶμεν δὲ νῦν τὸν βωμὸν καὶ ἐνθάδε τὸ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερόν.
Still walking up we are now coming closer to the sanctuary of Apollon. Close to the sanctuary is the Serpent Column [in Herodotus: “the Three-headed Snake”]. The Greeks dedicated this column after they had won over the Persians. However, this here is not the real column because Constantine took the real column to Constantinople. We see now the altar and here the sanctuary of Apollon.
οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ναός, ἢ ἀττικιστί· νεώς. ἐνθάδε δὲ ἐν μέσῳ ἐκάθητο ἡ Πυθία μαντευομένη. λέγουσιν δὲ ὅτι ἐκ τῆς γῆς πνεῦμα ἐξέπνευσε καὶ διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ἡ Πυθία ἐμάνη, ἢ ἴσως μᾶλλον πρέπει λέγειν· ἔνθεος ἐγένετο.
Here it is, the temple [koine: ναός, Attic: νεώς] of Apollo. Here in the middle sat the Pythia when giving her prophecies. They say that out of the earth an airstream was blowing and that the Pythia through this stream became crazy, or maybe we should rather say: She became divinely inspired.
τὸ θέατρον. πάντες ἴσμεν ὅτι ἐν Δελφοὶ ὁ Ἀπόλλων ᾤκησεν, ἀλλὰ οὐ μόνος ἦν. καὶ ὁ Διόνυσος ἦν θεὸς τῶν Δελφῶν. λέγουσιν γὰρ οἱ Δελφοὶ ὅτι τοῦ χειμῶνος ὁ Ἀπόλλων ἀποδημεῖ, καὶ τότε ἐνθάδε ὁ Διόνυσος ἄρχει τῆς χώρας.
The theater. We all know that Apollo lived in Delphi, but he was not alone. Dionysus, too, was a god of Delphi. For the Delphians say that during winter Apollo stays abroad and that then Dionysus is ruling over the land here.
τὸ παλαιὸν στάδιον τῶν Δελφῶν. ἐν γὰρ τοῖς Δελφοῖς ἐγένοντο καὶ ἀγῶνες μεγάλοι οἳ ἐκαλοῦντο τὰ Πύθια. οὗτοι οἱ ἀγῶνες ἦσαν καὶ μουσικοί, καὶ γυμναστικοί, ὥσπερ ὁ δρόμος ἐν τῷ σταδίῳ.
The ancient stadion of Delphi. In Delphi big contests were held, the so called “Pythian Games”. These were musical as well as athletic contests, like the racecourse in the stadion.
αὕτη ἡ ἀλώπηξ τὸ ἄριστον ζητεῖ ἐν τῷ σταδίῳ.
This fox is looking for its breakfast in the stadion.
αὕτη οὖν ἦν ἡ ἐμὴ περιήγησις τῶν Δελφῶν. οὐ δῆτα πάντα ἐδυνάμην ὑμῖν ἐπιδεῖξαι, ἅτε πολλὰ καὶ ποικίλα ὄντα, εἰ δὲ ἤρεσεν ὑμῖν, ἔλθετε αὐτοὶ θεασόμενοι τὸν τόπον. πρὸς δὲ τὸ τέλος ἀναγνώσομαι ὑμῖν λόγους σοφούς, τὰ καλούμενα Δελφικὰ ἀποφθέγματα. οἱ μὲν λέγουσιν ὅτι οἱ ἑπτὰ σοφοὶ εἶπον ταῦτα τὰ ἀποθέγματα, οἱ δὲ ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ Ἀπόλλων. ἔστι δὲ πολλὰ καὶ μικρὰν ἐκλογὴν μόνον ἀναγνώσομαι ὑμῖν.
So this was my tour of Delphi. I could, of course, not show you everything because there are many different things, but if you liked it, come here yourself and take a look! At the end, I will read to you some wise words, the so called Delphic Maxims. Some say that the seven sages uttered these maxims, others say that it was Apollo himself. At any rate, there quite a lot and I will read to you just a small selection:
Nothing in excess!
Moderate your temper!
Honor the home [lit. “the hearth”].
εἰ δὲ αὐτοὶ ἔχετε ἄλλα ἀποφθέγματα ἃ μάλιστα ἀρέσκει ὑμῖν, γράψατε αὐτὰ ἐν τοῖς κάτω ὑπομνήμασιν. ἐγὼ δὲ νῦν εἶμι εἰς Παρνασσόν, ζητούσασα τὸν Ἀπόλλωνα καὶ τὰς ἐννέα Μούσας. ἔρρωσθε
If you have other maxims that you especially like, write it in the comments below! I will now go to the Parnassus and search for Apollo and the nine Muses. Bye!