Re-visiting Delphi. The re-iteration is plain necessity: if Italo Calvino is correct and the classics can only ever be reread, then even a first-time visitor to Delphi is revisiting it. That evocative sanctuary barely clinging to the slopes of Parnassus is simultaneously place and commonplace (the Greek topos encompasses both senses). In Julia Kindt’s hands, Delphi is less a space than a stage set: a platform for the Pythia’s oracular pronouncements and a backdrop to the stories of those who went to consult her. These oracular stories have won their way to becoming archetypes: Herodotus’s self-delusional Croesus attacking Persia after being assured that in doing so he will destroy a great empire; Plato’s diffident Socrates, named by the Pythia as second-to-none in his wisdom; and the panicked Athenians, knowing only that a ‘wall of wood’ will save them from the Persians, being persuaded by Themistocles – opportunistically? – that Apollo is instructing them to man their fleet and decamp to Salamis rather than retreat to fortify the Isthmus or trust in the defensive capabilities of the Acropolis.
Greta Hawes reviews 'Revisiting Delphi: Religion and storytelling in Ancient Greece' by Julia Kindt
Revisiting Delphi: Religion and storytelling in Ancient Greece
by Julia Kindt
Cambridge University Press, $135 hb, 230 pp, 9781107151574
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Greta Hawes is lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the Australian National University. The author of Rationalizing Myth in Antiquity (2014) and editor of Myths on the Map: the Storied Landscapes of Ancient Greece (2017), she is currently writing a book about Pausanias’s Periegesis, a travel guide to Greece from the second century CE and source for many of our more bizarre tidbits of mythic lore.
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.