The Myth and Reality of Delphi
By Steve Fredette
The legend goes that Zeus took two eagles and released them at different ends of the world, one in the east and one in the west. When they met again, it was in Delphi, which was thus declared the center of the world. As in many mythical stories, which attempt to explain a given phenomena through acts of the gods, there was surely some reason behind this story. In other words, in some way the Greeks must have seen Delphi as the center of the world. Looking back through history, ways in which this mythical claim was true can be examined. To begin, Delphi was certainly a great and important religious center. People from all over Greece came to visit the oracle, and the temple of Apollo was built through contributions from city-states throughout Greece. The Pythian Games in Delphi, held every four years, was an event which brought together all of Greece. Many Greek city-states also set up treasuries in Delphi which represented a more peaceful method of competition than the wars were parallel. Much Greek history passed through and was influenced by Delphi, and Delphi certainly represents and symbolizes the panhellenism of Greece. In Delphi, the independent nature of each individual city-state was represented through the individual treasuries. At the same time, these treasuries were all located in the same sacred ground and all the city-states collectively supported the temple and Delphi’s public buildings. Delphi’s independence as a panhellenic site was also protected by all Greek city-states. Delphi sits at the center of Greek religion, politics, and history, and is certainly worthy of the claim that it was the center of the Greek world.
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(H/T History of the Ancient World)