Monday, July 18th
Today was incredible! One of the main things I was excited to see on this trip was the Oracle of Delphi, and today was that day. At first I was lowkey mad that we had to wait until the end of the trip to go to it, but now I completely understand why. If this had been one of our first stops, many other sites would (unfortunately) pale in comparison.
I woke up very tired and emotionally drained for different reasons, but I had been responsible and laid out all my clothes and packed so I was prepared for the Oracle. We had already gone to the museum the day before, so I had already snuck glimpses of the site. However, actually walking around the site was entirely different. The site had been used dating back to 800 BC when people would go there to show their devotion to Mother Earth. To be quite honest, I pictured a ton of ancient hippies congregating here like Columbia’s Earth Day festival, but I’m sure it looked slightly different than that. The first temple for Apollo was built in the 6th century BC, but it was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake. They built a new one, though, and the place built up. Delphi was chosen as the place for the oracle for many different reasons. It could have been because dolphins lead Apollo there. It could have been because Zeus’ birds chose the location and they met there. However it happened, it became the center of the Greek world.
The oracle was not only spiritual but also political. As with anything in ancient or modern days, money played a big factor. People would travel far and wide to consult the oracle, and because it was only consulted once a month, there was often a very long line and not everyone would be consulted. However, if you were from a wealthy area that had given to Delphi, such as Athens or Naxos, your chances of being heard increased. This seems pretty messed up to me, considering gods and priests should probably view everyone equally, but that doesn’t happen in modern times so I don’t know why I would expect anything different here. The oracle was also used in battles and wars for a city state to consult.
There were different stores and areas to go through before arriving to the temple where someone would present a goat. Cold water would be poured on the goat (I really don’t know who thought of this stuff), and if the goat shivered, it meant the gods were ready to be consulted. The goat would then be sacrificed. If the goat didn’t shiver it meant the gods were not ready to hear that person’s question, so the goat wasn’t sacrificed. The goat probably wasn’t treated very well afterwards though, because I’m sure it’s owner was pretty mad it didn’t shiver. I asked a question here, and the oracle- aka Barnes’ iPad- answered me. I asked how I would pay off my student loans, and his answer was long and complicated. What I took from it, though, was that I would have to choose two paths. One would be good and one would be bad. So I can either be responsible and very slowly pay them off, or I can join the drug cartel and get those taken care of quickly. As tempting as the second option is, I think I’m stuck with the first one. Thanks for nothing, Oracle.
We also saw the stadium and the theatre, which were of course beautiful and spectacular. During our free time, Madi and I pretty much got lost in our minds and wandered around. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t help but think of all the people that came to this site and put so much trust in it, even Alexander the Great. It was an incredible site and I was humbled to go there.
After this we went a few meters down and saw the Athena Pronaia Sanctuary. This was a cool temple/sanctuary area. It was built here so people would see the dedication to Athena before seeing the one to Apollo. It was grand and beautiful and made out of marble because the Athenians wanted to show off. It was cool to see, though, because I love Athena.
After this we drove to the fourth and final monastery of our trip, which was about a thousand years old. It looked to me like it belonged in Italy because of the style. The two churches we went into were gorgeous with immaculate mosaics. I even got to see a thousand year old body, which is something I could have gone without, but it’s something I can check off my bucket list I guess?
We had lunch at the monastery. I really enjoyed the bread on the sandwich. I bough olive oil here for my mom which was in a very cool bottle with a statue of Athena on it, bronze hat and all.
After this we headed back to Athens. We had a delicious dinner (I ate lamb) and then we all headed back to the hotel. I got a free Moscow Mule on the rooftop bar at the hotel because the bartender and Barnes are close and our total tab was 8 euros and Barnes was kind enough to pay for mine. It’s now time to get up way too early and head to Santorini!