The Site of the Delphic Oracle

Amazing Delphi

Miss Mackie, my Philosophy teacher at Armidale Teachers’ College in 1961-62, enthralled me with stories of the Delphic Oracle, and of Plato and of Socrates; we studied parts of The Republic by Plato in detail, and I came to idealise these great thinkers of ancient times. A few years later, I revelled in the chance to visit these magical places that my teacher had opened up for me. This was in 1969, when I travelled from France to Greece with two girl-friends from Melbourne, whom I had met while working in the Australian Embassy in Paris.
Delphi 1969: Was it my imagination playing tricks on me, or was there indeed a breathtaking godliness about this place? The mountains towering about like guardians of a sacred place—orange, pink and stony, powerful and gleaming in the sun. The walks up to each of the ancient monuments inspiring sacred awe: starting below with the Gymnasium, The Marmaria Temple to Athena, protectress of the Apollo Temple further up, the one lovely in its rosy granite lightness, the other perfect in its simple lines. We searched for a site marking the oracle, a shrine or stone or something, but, despite its physical absence, you could believe that you heard its voice, saw its slippery serpent-like tail gleaming among the rocks and ferns and springs. The theatre steps spanned mightily around, and on high, the stadium!
That evening, suntanned, spirit-fresh and tired, we drove to the camp below and drank cognac, and talked of ancient gods, of beauty and of life.

The Sacred Way

MountParnassus

The Theatre

Marmaria Temple Ruin



Apollo Templ




I took these photos while clambering around on the mountainous terrain in 1969. I was soundly punished for my ecstasy by Apollo, guardian of the sanctuary- or was it by the jealous goddess?- with a bad case of sun-stroke. It was a small price to pay for such an experience that I have carried with me through the years. These photos were reproduced from slides that I had stored away for thirty-nine years.


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