Mike Aquilina

Musings on the Delphic Muteness

Monday May 19th 2008, 9:16 am

The Fathers had little good to say about the town of Delphi and its famously oracular pythoness. Delphi went mute, they said, because Christ had conquered the demons.

Well, Delphi’s back in the news as a tourist draw. Says the Miami Herald’s reporter:

I stood on the ancient ground where Agamemnon, Socrates and Cicero, among others, had humbly stood, hoping to get answers to their big questions.

I was alone outside the ruined Temple of Apollo, where for more than 1,000 years the Oracle of Delphi enigmatically answered the questions of curious pilgrims — including kings, generals and philosophers. Now, she was silent. But Zeus wasn’t. Thunder shook the ground.

Above me loomed the rain-darkened Phaedriades — or ”Bright Ones” — twin, broad-shouldered limestone cliffs that frame the sacred hollow where the temples, stadiums and shrines of Delphi were built. Once the hub of the religious life of the Greek classical world, Delphi, on a late afternoon in April, played host to one wet tourist and several bored security guards.

I’ll still side with the Fathers and recommend that you save the airfare and kneel down in the nearest parish church.