Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World

Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World The oracle and sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo at Delphi were known as the omphalos the center or navel of the ancient world for thanyears Individuals, city leaders, and kings came from all over the Mediterranean and beyond to consult Delphi s oracular priestess to set up monuments to the gods and to take part in competitionsIn this richly illustrated account, Michael Scott covers the history and nature of Delphi, from the literary and archaeological evidence surrounding the site, to its rise as a center of worship, to the constant appeal of the oracle despite her cryptic prophecies He describes how Delphi became a contested sacred site for Greeks and Romans and a storehouse for the treasures of rival city states and foreign kings He also examines the eventual decline of the site and how its meaning and importance have continued to be reshapedA unique window into the center of the ancient world, Delphi will appeal to general readers, tourists, students, and specialists Very, very interesting account of Delphi and its oracle I fear most would find it too academic I am completely fascinated by Delphi I liked it. Covers the Oracle of Delphi and the town which was a religious center dedicated to Apollo and with a Priesthood of women who took in vapors in a cave and prophecized for visitors from all over the ancient Mediterranean world It existed from the archaic period in Greece up until the times when Roman Christians shut it down The book also talks about archeological efforts in the 20th century and the museum that now displays artifacts from this site Good stuff. This is a very interesting and comprehensive account of Delphi from its earliest days through the present, written in the sort of flat, artless prose that suggests an adapted dissertation Parts of the book were really fascinating, driven by the sheer propulsiveness of the historical role of the site Other parts drag interminably, particularly the cataloging of archaeological digs that makes up the epigraph Overall, I came away fascinated by the role that Delphi played in the wider culture of This is a very interesting and comprehensive account of Delphi from its earliest days through the present, written in the sort of flat, artless prose that suggests an adapted dissertation Parts of the book were really fascinating, driven by the sheer propulsiveness of the historical role of the site Other parts drag interminably, particularly the cataloging of archaeological digs that makes up the epigraph Overall, I came away fascinated by the role that Delphi played in the wider culture of antiquity, and how the success and usefulness of the oracle came not from definitive predictions of the future, but through responses that encouraged further discussion and political debate before taking action I also was shocked to learn that the Pythia really only took consultations for a handful of days in the year one day a month for nine months of the year It s clear that the purpose of the oracle is to slow down and inject some deliberation into decision making, not to offer a shortcut answer I think that really turns on its head the modern concept of what an oracle would be like Also fascinating is the Amphictyony the counsel of poleis that partially governed the shrine and its interplay with the city of Delphi The political structures that surround an institution that lasted over a thousand years were both pliable and yet remarkably consistent This book is worth reading for even a handful of insights into topics like this Interestingly, while some readers thought the book a little dry, mainly because it presupposes a decent knowledge of ancient Greek history and culture going into it, I thought it was a little on the pop culture side Early chapters seemedthematic, exploring what went on at Delphi and the art and architectural styles on display at the sanctuary, but it quickly transitioned into chronological narrative and ran with that format for the majority of the text That s great for putting things in Interestingly, while some readers thought the book a little dry, mainly because it presupposes a decent knowledge of ancient Greek history and culture going into it, I thought it was a little on the pop culture side Early chapters seemedthematic, exploring what went on at Delphi and the art and architectural styles on display at the sanctuary, but it quickly transitioned into chronological narrative and ran with that format for the majority of the text That s great for putting things in context, and much needed for the newcomer to the subject, but it makes it harder to draw out thematic patterns across time, leaving such discussions somewhat patchwork over a series of chapters Nevertheless, not a bad read by any means.6 out of 10

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