Athens and Delphi in the Classical Period: Exploring a Religious Relationship

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Abstract

In this article, I present an interpretation in religious terms of what Athenians were doing when they went to Delphi as representatives of their city. I begin by briefly outlining the key moments of Athenian involvement with Delphi in the classical period, which is roughly from 479 to 338 BCE, and the general relationship between city and sanctuary. I then look at the activities of the Athenian delegates to the Delphic Amphiktyony, whose responsibilities included representing the city of Athens at the festival of the Pylaia at Anthela and offering sacrifice at Delphi. I then turn to sacred ambassadors coming to consult the oracle, and show that occasions of consultation were festival occasions and that the experience of the theōroi was profoundly religious. I demonstrate that more than any immediate political concerns, maintaining a good relationship with Apollo was central to these activities. Evidence will be drawn largely from inscriptions from Delphi and literary sources from Athens, dating to the period under investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-534
Number of pages18
JournalFudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume13
Issue number4
Early online date28 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Athens
  • Delphi
  • Delphic oracle
  • Divination
  • Greek religion

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