Ever wondered about the prophecies from Delphi mentioned in ancient Greek literature?

Here is an extract from the “Guide to the Art” which accompanies Drama and Lyric, Unit 2 of The Greeks, part of the Old Western Culture great books series taught by Wes Callihan.

Priestess at Delphi John Collier, AD 1891, oil on canvas, 160 x 80 cm.
John Collier was an English writer and artist who painted in the Classicist and Pre-Raphaelite styles. His works were influenced by the style of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. (Recall “A reading from Homer”, from Unit 1.) Notice the gases rising from the chasm. Archeologists suspect that the alleged trance-like state from which the Pythia spoke notoriously ambiguous prophecies may have been related to the narcotic effects of hydrogen sulfide, ethylene, or benzene escaping from the earth. The Oracle at Delphi also plays an important role in several historical accounts that we will study next term.

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