Delphi

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delphi town low res

Delphi was my favourite of all the places we visited in Greece.

The theory goes that when people noticed goats behaving oddly after visiting a particular place on Mount Parnassus they went to investigate. Some people who went to the particular spot saw visions, had fits and spoke in riddles. Clearly this was a holy place where the gods would commune with man. Temples and statues and monuments were built here. Rich men and leaders would consult the oracle for advice on important decisions. The oracle was a priestess appointed to be the mouth piece of the god Apollo. She would sit on a tripod throne, breathe in the sweet vapours coming from cracks in the rock, sending her into a trance, and then have visions and give cryptic predictions of the future.

delphi3

It is now thought that this area of Greece was on a tectonic boundary and hydrocarbon gasses released from below the crust would give these women seizures and hallucinations. The ambiguous way in which their rantings were formalised by the other priests meant that their predictions could never really be proved wrong (you just didn’t look past the words to the dual/deeper meaning) and allowed this practice to be successful for almost a century. Until Romans brought Christianity and labelled all this as Pagan hogwash.

The locations of temples and other ancient monuments is often based on having a good vantage or trade routes or connections to local towns. These means that they are often covered by later settlements and when discovered they are in the midst of modern towns and cities. Not Delphi. This is an out of the way place and most of the way up a mountain. It would have been difficult to build here and a pilgrimage to visit. This means that, although there is a small town down the road from the site, the site itself is isolated and surrounded by insanely beautiful views of the mountains and all the way down to the sea.  From a distance the site looks like a slash in the side of the mountain, as if it was born from within. In a way I suppose it was.

I decided to paint postcards of this view to send back home. Three versions of the same scene, looking down the mountain.

delphi postcard 5

delphi postcard 1

delphi postcard 3

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