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Delphi Robertson, Paul


Delphi was the main, institutional oracular site in ancient Greece. On an ancient temple site with purported divinatory practices going as far back at 1600 BCE, it became a formal cult site of Apollo and his oracle in the 8th century BCE. The central religious activity was the Oracle at Delphi, also known as the "Pythia" after the primordial, mythical python slain by the god Apollo at the site to claim it for the Greek pantheon. The Pythia was both the high priestess of Apollo and his oracular mouthpiece, uttering authoritative but vague and often frenzied prophecies that made her the object of fascination across the ancient Mediterranean. The Pythia was attended by a formal priesthood in charge of the cult site and its practices. This cult site grew to become a major cultural and pilgrimage center, with extensive structures including temples, a treasury, theater, sanctuary, gymnasium, stadium, hippodrome, and extensive statuary and other offerings.

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