Oracle Essay

This essay has a total of 1043 words and 5 pages.


oracle





oracle in Greek religion, priest or priestess who imparted the response of a god to a
human questioner. The word is also used to refer to the response itself and to the shrine
of a god. Every oracular shrine had a fixed method of divination. Many observed signs,
such as the motion of objects dropped into a spring, the movement of birds, or the rustle
of leaves. Often dreams were interpreted. A later and popular method involved the use of
entranced persons whose ecstatic cries were interpreted by trained attendants. Before an
oracle was questioned consultants underwent rites of purification and sacrifice. There
were many established oracles in ancient Greece, the most famous being those of Zeus at
Dodona and of Apollo at Delphi and at Didyma in Asia Minor. Other oracular shrines were
located in Syria, Egypt, and Italy.


It was the seat of the Delphic oracle, the most famous and most powerful of ancient
Greece. The oracle originated in the worship of an earth-goddess, and later legend
ascribed it to Gaea. It passed to Apollo; some stories say he won it by killing the
Python, others that it descended to him peacefully through Themis and Phoebe. The Delphic
oracle was the preeminent shrine of Apollo, but in winter, when Apollo was absent among
the Hyperboreans, it was sacred to Dionysus, who was said to be buried there. The oracle
was housed in the great temple to Apollo, first built in the 6th cent. B.C. (it was
destroyed and rebuilt at least twice). The oracular messages were spoken by a priestess
seated on a golden tripod, who uttered sounds in a frenzied trance; they were interpreted
to the questioner by a priest, who usually spoke in verse. Delphi was unique in its
universal position in the otherwise fragmented political and social life of Greece. It was
the meeting place of the Amphictyonic League, the most important league of Greek
city-states, and also the site of the Pythian games. Persons seeking the help of the
oracle brought rich gifts, and the shrine grew very wealthy. The prestige and influence of
the Delphic oracle prevailed for centuries through all of Greece. During Hellenistic
times, however, the importance of the oracle declined. Delphi was frequently pillaged from
early Roman times, and the sanctuary fell into decay. One of the art works excavated there
is the beautiful 5th-century bronze statue called the Delphic Charioteer


in classical mythology and religion, prophetess. There were said to be as many as 10
sibyls, variously located and represented. The most famous was the Cumaean sibyl,
described by Vergil in the Aeneid. When she offered Tarquin her prophetic writings, the
so-called sibylline books, he refused to pay her high price. She kept burning the books
until finally he bought the remaining three at the original price. Although the historical
origins of the books are uncertain, they were actually kept at Rome in the Capitol and
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