How will these resources help you?
Understanding the importance of Delphi
Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World
by Michael Scott, published by Princeton University Press, (2015), 9780691169842
Most interestingly, Scott explains what the oracular process meant. Each chapter traces the influence of the Pythia in different periods of history. Her significance is evident in the role she played in advising cities about colonies, war, alliances and ‘the extent to which Delphi was conceived of… as an enforcer of civic values.’ Scott suggests that the Pythia was less a fortune-telling service than a ‘sense-making mechanism’. As such, the Pythia operated as a form of ‘guidance rather than revelation’, and by giving ambiguous answers, she prompted consultants to discuss an issue further. You could use the existence of this mechanism as the focus of a discussion into the nature of the Pythia’s influence over the ancient world.
The religious centre of Ancient Greece
Religion in the Ancient Greek City
by Louise Bruit Zaidman and Pauline Schmitt Pantel, published by Cambridge University Press, (1992), 9780521423571
Chapter 11 investigates several Panhellenic cults and outlines Delphi’s importance: ‘whereas Olympia mostly dozed between Olympics, Apollo’s sanctuary at Delphi was a constant hive of activity, thanks to its oracle.’ Investigating some very useful examples of the Pythia’s oracular sayings, the authors offer the helpful conclusion that: ‘the divine word… was not received as a prediction but as one of the parameters constraining human action.’
The significance of the Pythia
Hidden women of history: the priestess Pythia at the Delphic Oracle, who spoke truth to power
by Julia Kindt, published by The Conversation, (29 January, 2019)
Text © Mark Robinson, 2021-2023