After finishing my third painting of the Tholos at the Temple of Athena, I walk back up the hill towards the Temple of Apollo, set up just below it, and paint a quick watercolor. The finished painting is kind of quirky and too brightly painted, but as the path up to the Temple is still blocked because of falling rocks, I canâ€™t find a better angle worth painting.
A tour group gathers nearby, and I overhear the tour guide talking about the Temple and its Oracle. The Oracle was a woman, chosen for her good character and virtue from among the peasants of the local community. When she became Apolloâ€™s priestess, the Pythia, she prophesied the future by channelling the words of Apollo. She sat on a tripod above a fissure in the earth and answered pilgrimsâ€™ questions. A gas, probably ethylene, rose from this fissure causing a trance-like state and allowing her to channel the voice of the god. Her words, which came in poetic hexameters, were then transcribed by priests. Pilgrims came from all over the Greek world to consult the Oracle about everything from personal matters to the advent of war. Recently, geologists have discovered that two fault lines intersect just below the Oracle chamber, providing further evidence of the fissure and its gasses.