Posts Tagged With: Pythia

Oracle of Death

The Gate to Hell gave the Oracle at Delphi a run for her money.
The Plutonion: Phrygia's Gate to Hell (c.190 BCE) -digital reconstruction by Francesco D'Andria

The Plutonion, Phrygia’s Gate to Hell, on the right (c.190 BCE) -digital reconstruction by Francesco D’Andria

If you’re looking for a hot bath and visit to the edge of hell, you can plan a spa night at home topped off by this week’s episode of The Walking Dead or you can pack your household and make a pilgrimage to the Plutonion.

The ancient temple complex dedicated to Pluto, Greek god of the underworld, was built around a cave emitting fumes so toxic that small animals can barely pass by without dropping dead and prolonged exposure easily kills large animals and people – even today.

Roman and Greek commentators of the time referenced the strange site at Hierapolis (in modern Turkey). Hierapolis’ hot baths and temples attracted people from around the known world for healing and worship, making it one of the ancient Mediterranean’s most popular destinations. But the city was destroyed by repeated earthquakes in the first century CE and eventually shut down as a pagan sanctuary by Christian Rome in the sixth century.

Archaeologists searched for years to confirm the Plutonion’s existence. “We found the Plutonium [its Roman name] by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring,” Francesco D’Andria, leader of the archaeological team, told Discovery News.

Originally misidentified as Apollo (Delphi's patron god), this huge statue is now known be Pluto, god of the underworld.

Originally misidentified as Apollo (Delphi’s patron god), this huge statue is now known be Pluto, god of the underworld.

Like its famous sister, Delphi, the unique geology of the site provided its mystical power. Underground springs – hot springs, in the case of Hierapolis – running over rocks and minerals produced the intoxicating fumes, considered to be supplied by the gods. The temple was built to manage the gate to hell responsibly.

The Plutonion’s priests – the Eunuchs of Cybele – conducted animal sacrifices for spectators sitting on banks of steps above the low gate, which was constructed around the mouth of the deadly cave. Because they were able to enter and leave the cave safely while their sacrificial animals died, the priests were presumed to have special powers or the protection of their patron god Pluto.

Meanwhile, pilgrims who slept near the temple reported prophetic visions, not unlike those experienced by the Pythia at Delphi. But – beware! – approaching the Gate of Hell no doubt meant a speedy death for the average person.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 things to do in Hierapolis when you’re dead (from exposure to the Gate of Hell):

  1. Stop by the famous shawarma cart for a gyro that’s to die for!
  2. Pick a fight with the biggest, baddest eunuch you can find – what’s the worst that could happen? You’re already dead!
  3. Take pictures – we all want to know if the doorstep of hell looks like our in-laws’ front stoop at Thanksgiving.
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, History, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goats to Gods: The Delphi Legacy

How a goatherder’s pasture became the center of the world for over 1,000 years.

(Re-post in celebration of my latest author interview at B.L. Kosiner’s Book Blog – Enjoy!)

Model of the temple mount at Delphi, Temple of Apollo top. -Lonely Planet

A crack in a mountainside 100 miles from Athens influenced the ancient Mediterranean world for an entire age. The holy city of Delphi was home to sacred temples, wealthy treasuries, renowned theaters, and active sporting arenas that marked it as the most important cultural, religious and financial hub in the Western world.

The mother of Delphi’s influence was a fissure in the rock breathing a mind-altering vapor, discovered by a goatherder around 1400 BCE. As the ancient mind went, this was obviously a portal into the divine dimension. The spot was considered the navel of the world and a sacred site grew up around it, eventually inspiring a huge Temple of Apollo to awe its visitors.

Priestess of Delphi -John Collier, 1891

Ensconced on a tripod seat over the fissure in the temple’s hallowed chamber, the entranced oracle – called the Pythia – became the conduit for the god Apollo, who would deliver for seekers vague personal messages to be interpreted by the attendant priests. The prophecies covered every human interest from romance to finance to empires.

The oracles were famously, even cruelly, cryptic. In the most infamous military blunder of all time Lydian king Croesus consulted the Oracle before invading Persia and was assured that a great empire would be destroyed if he did. Imagine his surprise when he lost the war he started and it was his empire that was destroyed!

Aegeus Consults the Pythia -ancienthistory.about.com

Among the many seers and oracles of the ancient world, none wielded the power and respect of Delphi. For more than a millennium kings, aristocrats, commoners and colonists paid dearly for a precognitive utterance from the Pythia that would give them some warning, guidance or blessing for their next endeavor.

Delphi’s influence eventually waned and it was shut down by Christian Rome in the 4th Century CE. But the mark of Delphi on our civilization is an undeniable hint at our magical, mythical and humble past.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger

3 oracles from Delphi we wish we hadn’t followed:

  1. “Gerard Butler and the cast of 300 shall go into battle shirtless.”
  2. “The great vessel Titanic is indestructible – you shall turn off the radio and sail it anywhere.”
  3. “You shall have a new queen and she shall be named ‘Snooki!'”
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Related articles
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dewey Digital System

5 ancient books you can view and read online – in today’s Burger Bite.

The ancient Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea collection -facscimile-editions.com

  1. Discovered in a desert cave in the 1940s, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest surviving biblical and extra-biblical texts. The digitization project, a partnership between Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority started in 2010 and is expected to continue until 2016.
  2. In April 2012, the British Library in London acquired for US$14 million a hand-scribed Gospel of St. John entombed with British cleric St. Cuthbert in the 9th century and immediately imaged the book in digital format for worldwide public study.
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, the 700-verse section of the sacred epic poem the Mahabharata, dates as far back as the 4th century BCE. Considered one of the axial Hindu scriptures, it is a guide to effective spiritual living and was Mahatma Ghandi’s favorite book.
  4. Homer’s epic tale of Odysseus’s journey home to his beloved Penelope from the battle of Troy is believed to have been first composed around the 8th century BCE and considered a foundational work of Western literature. The oldest known manuscript of The Odyssey dates from the 10th-11th century CE.
  5. For over 3,500 years, the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead has magically guided souls to the heavens, intrigued scholars, and fascinated viewers. The earliest known translation dates from 1805, leaving millennia of onlookers in the dark about its contents.

The hieroglyphic Egyptian Book of the Dead depicts the ceremony where the deceased’s heart
is weighed to judge purity.

Chris Everheart is author of the thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

History’s darkest secrets hid in plain sight.
Available Now
Categories: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Hidden Archealogy, History, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The League of Delphi Launches

A lone teen, a suspicious death, an ancient conspiracy.

By my posts on the Brain Burgers Blog, I’m sure you can tell how much I love history, archaeology, kids, books, and libraries. Want to see it all come together in one dark, hair-raising place?

My thriller The League of Delphi launched this week on Kindle! (Available in paperback in two weeks.)

History’s darkest secrets
hide in plain sight.

In The League of Delphi 17-year-old Zach secretly returns to his wealthy hometown to discover that the deaths of his parents and a childhood friend are tied to a secret government that runs the town with mysterious links to Ancient Greece and the Oracle at Delphi.

I’m so happy about a review I got from a reader who read the book in ONE DAY!

5 stars. “Can’t put it down! This is such a great book. I found myself not being able to put my Kindle down because I needed to read what was going to happen next. I definitely was not disappointed & have been telling everyone I know to get a copy!”

The League of Delphi is a labor of love and fascination, the first in a thriller series that I expect to keep you up all night reading, dying to know what will happen next.

Kindle readers can pop over and download it today. If you’re a paperback reader, get ready for the release in two weeks.

Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, Hidden Archealogy, History, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Overly Unachievable

The crushing pressure on kids to be the best – at everything

The author posing as an overachiever – University of Minnesota 1992.

Before “travel leagues” and “advanced placement,” kids played sports at the neighborhood park and competed in class for a teacher’s attention and at home for a parental pat on the head. But along with every other aspect of our lives today, childhood is accelerating.

Because it has become one of the scariest parts of being a kid today I made overachievement a key part of teens’ lives in my thriller The League of Delphi. Writing about a secret society that runs a town and pressures teens into dangerous overachievement is a creative way of dealing with this dark and destructive issue facing our kids in real life.

The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins

In her revealing and sometimes shocking book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Alexandra Robbins (a recovering overachiever herself) exposed the new world of social, academic, parental and extracurricular pressure overwhelming children’s lives. She found that the kids at her former high school were often dismayed, disheartened and depressed over their self-image in the face of constantly rising expectations. (BTW: Robbins also delved into another central theme of The League of Delphi – secret societies – in Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power)

The trend of helicopter parents jockeying to get their kids into the best preschools, terrified by the prospect of an ordinary, underachieving childhood, is not an urban myth. Even more disturbing, stories of parents like Wanda Holloway, the Texas mom willing to kill to get her daughter into a key cheerleading spot, have become a reality.

Today, kids feel more obligation than ever to be smart, popular, attractive, athletic – all of the above. Blame the media, fashion, video games, or simply the times we live in, but something in our culture is causing kids to push themselves to extremes formerly known only in the adult world.

In the near future kids may realize that only their own judgment matters when deciding how to spend the hours of their days and the days of their lives. Will they live in a society that punishes them for their individualism or will they remake the culture into one that supports the search for their true, self-determined inner calling?

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 things overheard at a gathering of overachievers:

  1. “I thought San Andreas was my fault!”
  2. “That Einstein dude was such a slacker.”
  3. “I can’t cut back to only 7 hours of studying a day!”
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fault-y Prophet

5 facts behind the mythical, mystical power of the Oracle at Delphi stack up for today’s Burger Bite.

Postcard showing (clockwise) the Treasury of the Athenians, the Theatre and the Tholos. -unescards.blogspot.com

  1. After a century of debate, scientists in the 1980s confirmed ancient accounts of two converging fault lines in the hydrocarbon-rich limestone beneath Delphi capable of releasing ethylene gas that could explain the trance-like states of the Pythia (the Delphic oracle).
  2. While ethylene gas, first used as a surgical anesthetic in the 1920s, is capable of inducing unconsciousness, altered states, or incoherent speech, the side effects can be horrific – including crippling seizures and death.
  3. Due to the hazards of their duty, the Pythias observed painstaking rituals of fasting and preparation prior to delivering oracles only on the seventh day of the nine warm months of the year.
  4. The often-long journey to Delphi, the ritualized preparation for inquiry, and the sparse ceremonial schedule held the supplicants at the Oracle for extended periods, giving the Delphic priests ample time to gather intelligence that could be used in the interpretation of their prophecies.
  5. Because Delphi was the most important cultural, religious and financial hub in the ancient Mediterranean, it’s been suggested that the “interpretation” of the nonsensical oracles was simply an astute analysis of history, current events, and human interest by the well-informed attending priests.

Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ancient Future Shock

The modern truth behind the ancient power of the Oracle at Delphi.

“Sanity, itself, thus hinges on man’s ability to predict his immediate, personal future on the basis of information fed him by the environment.” –Alvin Toffler, Future Shock

The Pythia delivers oracles from the Adyton deep inside the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Statistician, market researcher, trend analyst, political wonk. These modern occupations were all summed up in one ancient role – the Oracle. For over 1,000 years a woman called the Pythia at Delphi, Greece influenced the Western world with a wisp of vapor and a whisper of mystery – and not without merit.

The many oracles of the ancient world  have long been considered myths or just clever ruses to separate  superstitious people from their money. But in recent years, archaeologists and geologists have discovered features at Delphi that may explain the unique behavior of the Pythia, the Delphic Oracle’s top ranking, and its dominance over an entire culture.

Map of the fault lines beneath the Delphi site.

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi, it turns out, stands on two converging fault lines where water from the sacred Castalian spring may have mixed with natural substances in the layers of limestone beneath, producing anesthetic gases like ethylene in ancient times. Exposing herself to the vapors, the Pythia would experience a semi-conscious, trance-like state where she was given to alarming convulsions and nonsensical babbling.

The strain and danger of the job prompted the sisterhood of the Pythia to implement painstaking rituals of fasting and preparation before performing their duty only on the seventh day of the month.

This leisurely schedule had two valuable benefits for the institution of the Oracle: 1) it limited the supply and increased the value/demand/price of prophecies; and 2) it gave the priests time to gather intelligence from the visiting supplicants while they waited at Delphi for the ceremonial day. It’s been suggested that the Delphic priests’ extensive knowledge of politics, finance, society and current events was the true source of the “interpreted” oracles.

Achilles consulting Pythia – Sheila Terry/Science Photo Library

Whatever its source, the Oracle at Delphi was universally accepted as the fount of wisdom for Greek-influenced culture around the known world. Everyone from commoners to kings sought prophecies from the lips of the Pythia, her golden age bookmarked by centuries of service from 1400BCE well into the Roman era.

After a steady loss of influence – possibly due to the closing of the vapor-producing fault – several barbarian invasions, and looting by occupying states, the oracle was at last silenced in the 4th Century CE by Roman emperor Theodosius I, who had it demolished and left to ruins. The site was covered by successive landslides from Mount Parnassus then built over by a small village until it was rediscovered by French archaeologists in the late-1800’s.

While the Pythia no longer speaks from the Temple of Apollo, the amazing grandeur of the Delphi site still speaks of a time when magic and mystery ruled the world and the future – from the decisions of kings to the concerns of the common people.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 non-scientific non-facts about the Oracle at Delphi:

  1. John Lennon wrote “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” about the Pythia.
  2. Site of Greek-a-palooza -436 BCE. T-shirts are still available.
  3. The Oracle charged a Quarter-Dracma via a coin slot in the Temple of Apollo’s door.

Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

5 Oddities of the Oracle at Delphi

The Tholos at Delphi -Matt Barrett greecetravel.com

Here’s a Burger Bite of 5 things that made Delphi such a mysterious and hypnotic place that cast an undeniable spell on Western Civilization over 1,000 years:

  1. At Delphi, the oracle was called the Pythia — named for the Python, a serpent whose rotting carcass was considered the source of a mind-altering vapor emitted there after being slain by the god Apollo.
  2. The Pythia sat and delivered her cryptic oracles on a tripod seat over the crack in the rock where the toxic mist – called pneuma – leaked out.
  3. The oracle only dispensed prophecies on the seventh day of each of the nine warm months of the year, when Apollo was believed to dwell there.
  4. Because of its mystical features, Delphi was designated the “omphalos” (navel of the world) and influenced Western civilization for over 1,000 years.
  5. Before recorded history and the reign of the Pythia, a legendary prophetess called the Sibyl is said to have dispensed oracles from a rock at the site of the omphalos after the fabled Trojan War.

Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Delphi: Goats to Gods

How a goatherder’s pasture became the center of the world for over 1,000 years.

Model of the temple mount at Delphi, Temple of Apollo top. -Lonely Planet

A crack in a mountainside 100 miles from Athens influenced the ancient Mediterranean world for an entire age. The holy city of Delphi was home to sacred temples, wealthy treasuries, renowned theaters, and active sporting arenas that marked it as the most important cultural, religious and financial hub in the Western world.

The mother of Delphi’s influence was a fissure in the rock breathing a mind-altering vapor, discovered by a goatherder around 1400 BCE. As the ancient mind went, this was obviously a portal into the divine dimension. The spot was considered the navel of the world and a sacred site grew up around it, eventually inspiring a huge Temple of Apollo to awe its visitors.

Priestess of Delphi -John Collier, 1891

Ensconced on a tripod seat over the fissure in the temple’s hallowed chamber, the entranced oracle – called the Pythia – became the conduit for the god Apollo, who would deliver for seekers vague personal messages to be interpreted by the attendant priests. The prophecies covered every human interest from romance to finance to empires.

The oracles were famously, even cruelly, cryptic. In the most infamous military blunder of all time Lydian king Croesus consulted the Oracle before invading Persia and was assured that a great empire would be destroyed if he did. Imagine his surprise when he lost the war he started and it was his empire that was destroyed!

Aegeus Consults the Pythia -ancienthistory.about.com

Among the many seers and oracles of the ancient world, none wielded the power and respect of Delphi. For more than a millennium kings, aristocrats, commoners and colonists paid dearly for a precognitive utterance from the Pythia that would give them some warning, guidance or blessing for their next endeavor.

Delphi’s influence eventually waned and it was shut down by Christian Rome in the 4th Century CE. But the mark of Delphi on our civilization is an undeniable hint at our magical, mythical and humble past.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger

3 oracles from Delphi we wish we hadn’t followed:

  1. “Gerard Butler and the cast of 300 shall go into battle shirtless.”
  2. “The great vessel Titanic is indestructible – you shall turn off the radio and sail it anywhere.”
  3. “You shall have a new queen and she shall be named ‘Snooki!'”

Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: