Abraham, John, Austin, Garrett, and ME!

Last week Thursday we went to Delphi. Delphi is the most famous oracles of all time, plus it was a very important diplomatic arena. In order to stay in favor with Apollo the rulers from the surrounding areas would give statues (which symbolized wishing pleasure on someone) to Apollo’s temple in Delphi. The idea was that if they  stayed in favor with the god, they would get a good prophecy. The bigger or more important states had bigger places to contain the statues given, in this way they could show how high they were on the totem poll and cut in the line to get prophesies. Athens was one of these states, it was important to them to get quick prophesies since they were under attack a lot and needed news before their enemies arrived. First I’m going to show you the museum and then the actual site.

Helen being captured

If you look closely you can see in this picture a woman with a big dress jumping off a cart-looking-thing, which is a chariot. And if you strain you can see a man in front of the horses trying to stop the horses. Archeologists believe that this is depicting the capture of Helen before the Trojan war. This slab of marble was part of the roof of the Delphi temple.

Trojan battle scene

The next slab of marble was also part of the same roof, just on another side of the building. Once again, archeologists don’t know for sure, but they think that it depicts the Trojan war. There is on the left one group of soldiers with one kind of helmet and on the other side they have another type of helmet, this shows you that they are on different sides. And in the middle there is a man lying on the ground, he has been wounded. So you see it is a story depicted on the roof of the temple.


At one point the temple of Delphi was made of wood and something happened to make a fire and the whole thing burned down. They remade the temple out of marble, trying to make it similar to the wooden one (hence the pillars that look remarkably close to tree trunks). It is very good that the priests did not get rid of what was left from the fire. Since the objects were once considered very signifiant, they buried them instead, like you would an old friend. In that way their significance could still remain while they used different objects. This is what has given archeologists a lot of information because it has shown them how the society progressed from one time to another. This is an example of a statue of Apollo that was mostly destroyed. When you look at his face it is obvious that he is happy, this is because he was created before Greece started being attacked by the Persians, before children were missing fathers and wives missing husbands and sisters missing brothers. Life is good, so he looks like it. You can see how he was adorned with a lot of jewelry, jewelry has always been very important to the Greeks. If you go down town you can see this because every woman who can afford it has big gold earrings, at least one necklace, several bracelets, and at least one big ring.

Greek statues before the wars

a Greek statue after the wars and Lula (our tour guide)

While there were many other very cool and important things in the museum, I can not do a whole post on the museum because I would have no energy to tell you about the actual temple. This is one very basic, but not very well known thing (as far as I understand it isn’t well known at least :)). Here are two statues, their differences tell us a lot! Looking at the first one with the two guys. They have their left foot pointing forward and this shows us that they are depicting men (as apposed to gods). They do not exactly look like men either. I mean, you can tell they are depicting men, but if you saw a real human like that you would think their was a problem with him. This is because it was created before the wars with Persia. At this time the sculptors were not as good. They did not know how to envision the entire statue before they started, so that is why they look a little odd. And one more thing, they have smiles, which I said before was because everyone was happy before the wars with Persia. The second picture with our tour guide is a work done much later, after all the wars. If you can make it out, his face is not smiling, this is because the life of everyone was much harder after the wars which killed way too many of their men. Why would you create a happy statue if you are always stressed about how you will provide food for your family? It doesn’t make sense. So he is sad. Also, he looks a lot more like a man. This is because their ability to see the whole creation in their minds eye before they started had developed. It looks whiter too, this is because it is made out of marble, while the other is of some other rock which was softer and easier to use. This man has his right foot forward which shows that he is a god. And he is looking down, this means that he is dead. One last thing to notice is that his hair is short while the hair of the others is long. This is because before the wars started the men had time an money to participate in fashion, it was what was in. Where as the second statue which is of a man after the wars when they did not have time to take care of long hair and instead had to be ready at any moment to run off to war.

Athens' "shrine"

After we had gone to the museum we headed outside to see the temple. The temple was a little ways up the hill, but there were structures on the way to the temple. Most of these structures were treasuries. This is were the states put all the statues they had offered to Apollo. These are the statues that I was talking about earlier. If you wanted a prophesy, you brought a gift, and a gift that would not rot was better than one that would because it would be a reminder to everyone who saw it that you had given the god pleasure. These structures were called treasuries, but they were used more like embassies. This is the embassy the Athenians, which was one of the biggest and most important of all the treasuries.

Roman shops turned Christian

an engraved cross

Before you got to the treasuries you had to go by shops. The shops sold statues for the people who came in a rush for an important  oracle and didn’t have enough time to have a statue made or for people who came from really far away and couldn’t bring one with them. Once the Romans came to power they took over these shops and that is why the columns look different from Greek columns. Lula (our tour guide) says that the Greeks loved beauty and that is why their columns look prettier. After a while the Christians who were very active came here and turned the Roman shops into Churches. Here is a cross from one of these churches.

the front of the Delphi temple

most of the layout of the Delphi temple

After you go buy the shops and the treasuries you come to the temple of Delphi. This is the building where the oracles took place. Prophesies occurred when one of the priestesses breathed in vapors that came from the ground, and ate loral leaves. She was to have not had anything to eat or drink before hand. The vapors would make her dizzy and things would come to her mind. She would talk in a language no one but the priests could understand and then the priest would tell someone else what the oracle said. Archeologists still do not know what the vapors were, but they are trying to figure that out. I don’t remember what exactly happen to if for it to not still be intact, but I don know that a lot of other countries knew about the wealth at Delphi and came down to raid it. I don’t know how many of them were successful.

the theater (and me)

a song played in the theater

When you had gone past the temple you came to a theater. This is where musicians played for Apollo and the workers at the temple. Only the best of the best played and if it was extraordinarily good they would carve the song into the stone so that it could live forever. This is a picture of a song that was played. The large letters that are straight in a line are the words to the song, if you look closely (I think if you run your mouse over it, it will get larger) you can see that there are also letters just above the lines, almost crowding the other line, these are the notes. This is were most people stop climbing the hill, because the stadium is much farther up the hill.

On our way to the stadium we found these men who were picking berries. They told us to do the same. At first we weren’t so stoked because the berries didn’t look as nice as they do at the grocery store. But then we tasted them, and decided the guys weren’t as crazy as we thought. They were incredibly juicy and it was a nice snack on our way up to the stadium.

Once we got to the top we found the stadium where they raced chariots. I have no clue how they got the chariots up there, but they did a lot of crazy stuff back then. It was nice and cool up at the top and the view was amazing.

stadium for chariot races

the view from the top