UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Delphi as a space for elite interactions Côté-Landry, Maude


The sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi has long been a popular subject for research among scholars, but the vast majority of studies have focused almost exclusively on the Delphic oracle. This thesis instead aims to explore in detail the use of the sanctuary as a space for elite interactions during the Archaic Period, an aspect of Delphi which has only briefly been mentioned by David Small (1994). More specifically, I analyse the nature of the Greek elite in order to determine how the characteristics of this social group led to their use of panhellenic sanctuaries such as Delphi as spaces of interaction and how those interactions were affected by the setting of the sanctuary. The first chapter focuses on establishing the nature of the Greek elite during the Archaic Period, focusing on the effects of the economic, military, and religious changes which took place during the 8th century BCE as well as on elements of the elite lifestyle such as guest friendships, marriages, and competition which encouraged interpolital interactions. I then examine Delphi’s status as an interstate sanctuary and the advantages provided by such sanctuaries which led to their being used as spaces for elite interactions. The second chapter examines a variety of different elite interactions which took place within the sanctuary at Delphi and explores how each interaction was shaped by the elite characteristics detailed in the first chapter. I show how the regular gatherings of a large number of elites made Delphi an advantageous site for interpolital interactions such as the making of guest friendships and marriage alliances as well as for competitive interactions such as displays of wealth through dedications and athletic competitions. This study demonstrates that the developments of the 8th century BCE affected the nature of the Greek elite in such a way that it pushed their interactions and private affairs outside the territory of the polis and into interstate sanctuaries such as Delphi. The opportunity for regular gatherings at Delphi coupled with the elite inclination towards interpolital interactions and agonistic displays also encouraged a variety of Greek elite interactions within the Delphi sanctuary.

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