On the Source of Delphic Inspiration

Selivanova Larisa L.

In spite of the great number of works on the Delphic Oracle, many problems connected with it are still under discussion. The author analyses different views of the part played by Pythia in Apollo's cult and of the source of her inspiration. The author proves that, despite the largely assumed opinion, Pythia was not the heritage of the old cult of Ge, for the former mistresses of the oracle did not need intermediaries to give their prophecies. When the Oracle was captured (or received as a gift) by an alien god, the new-comer Apollo, he found himself in need of an intermediary who could accept the emanations of Earth. Ge boycotted the new-comer and the local nymph Daphne refused to serve the god, who therefore had to turn for help to a native woman. Hence, Pythia was a completely new figure accompanying a new god. Apollo's original demonic nature is apparent in the myth on the foundation of the Delphic Oracle. Having killed the dragon Python representing the spirit of the Earth, the God of light adopted his functions and henceforth had three aspects: catachthonian, chthonic and solar. This combination of functions of former matriarchal deities in a new figure mark the complete triumph of patriarchal Olympic religion. At this very stage Apollo becomes Zeus' «prophet» uttering his will. The way in which Pythias were inspired and the cult of Apollo itself was connected with enthusiasm in the original sense of the word (ev0oi)(iiaa|JX)< - divine inspiration, ev0ouaid£cfl -to be filled with god). The role Pythia played in Apollo's cult was determined by the ecstatic kind of mantic, to which female organism is more predisposed. The woman was inspired by the power of the earth, her inspiration being Apollonian in character. Playing a special part in Apollo's cult, Pythia occupied a prominent position among the temple staff.