THIS…. IS….. THERMOPYLAE/DELPHI/THESSALY!!!

June 15

Delphi day! This morning we drove through the region of Thessaly. Thessalians were believed to be some of the first people to use land mines, FYI. They dug trenches and placed jars and pots sideways in the trenches, and then put a thin layer of dirt on top to make it look flat. Horses and people would break the pots, fall in and get stuck.

We then stopped in Lamia for a break and a snack, and quickly got back on the road. We stopped (it was raining and hailing so we stayed in the bus) at the place of the Battle of Thermopylae, the last stand of the Spartans and inspiration for the movie 300. 

1 hour into the second half of the drive I made everyone stop and pee for my own selfish needs. Barnes, once again, I apologize. I slowed us up. θλιμμένος…Λυπάμαι, and other Google translated Greek apologies. 

Then we hit Delphi! Delphi is the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo, one of the most important sanctuaries and oracles in Greece. Delphi is considered the navel or center of the Greek world. In mythology, Zeus releases two eagles, one from the easternmost part of the world and one from the westernmost. The two met at Delphi and there, Zeus placed a pebble. (We saw that pebble…soooo..COOL THINGZ IN GREECE) In Delphi, unlike Dodona, questions were of importance–religious, warfare, strategy, political questions, sometimes given to you to ask by your home polis.

First we saw the market that was used to buy things to sacrifice, dedications, and souvenirs. To see if the oracle wanted to talk to you, you’d have to sacrifice a healthy goat. I sacrificed Jane in the example, in which I asked the oracle if I would destroy the Death Star. 

Second was treasury houses and political displays. Delphi was a place to make the achievements of your polis known throughout the Greek world. City-states commemorated victories with elaborate statues, and city-states were continually undermining one another. One of the cool parts about this site is that we walked and stood in the same places as basically everyone who was anyone in the Greek world. If Oedipus was a real man, we followed his footsteps. 

Third was Zeus’s pebble! It was a conical looking shape, derived from an object in an Asian religion. 

Fourth was the Halos, in the places where Apollo was believed to have slay the dragon. There was a 9m column in that spot with a sphinx on top that we’ll see tomorrow in the Delphi Museum. At this spot, Aristotle read part of Euripedes’ “The Ion”

Next came the Athenian stoa. We make our way up to the altar, and then see the base of a golden tripod of Plataea–a tripod supported by 3 intertwined snakes with a bronze pillar naming 31 Greek city-states. It was taken to the hippodrome of Constantinople in the 4th century AD, and it’s still there.

After, we saw the altar of Apollo, where the goats would be sacrificed before the oracle spoke. For more on how the Pythia and the Oracle of Delphi worked, you can go here. Because it’s 1am and I don’t know what I’m even typing right now. After the altar, we went into the temple, which would have had sacred tress, the navel (pebble Zeus dropped), etc. The answers the oracle would provide were twisty and hard to understand, and if they we wrong, it was because the person interpreted wrong but the oracle was right.

We also got to see the base of the tripod that the Pythia would sit in to sniff fumes to be in contact with Apollo. In 2000, a theory came about that 2 geographical fault lines crossed at that point and a type of gas was released from the earth causing the Pythia to become intoxicated or sleep deprived. Aristotle said he believes none of that, and the Pythia would bring themselves into a self-induced trance and really believe Apollo was overcoming them.

Next, we saw the theatre. It would have held 5,000 people, and in it, Aristotle read some more and Barnes recited the first lines of The Iliad in Ancient Greek. It was super epic. Very impressive. I’d seen it once before in Ancient World class, but it’s different when you hear Barnes’s booming voice staring at an Ancient Greek theatre with mountains behind me in a place where some of the most important people of antiquity made their most important political decisions. It’s so different. It’s such an amazing feeling. 

We saw the stadium next, which was roped off recently because of a rock slide a few years back. It was a bit more intact than other stadiums we’d seen. We also saw the laurel tree of Daphne, and I looked up a sculpture of her running from Apollo and turning into a tree in the same moment. It’s a beautiful work of art. Thanks for bringing it up, Barnes and Deedra!

We walked around and shopped for a while in Delphi, and I ate some souvlaki with Barnes, Takis, Naomi, Aristotle, and Lexi at a place across the street from my hotel.

FURN FERCTS [fun facts]

1. Thessalian women had a very common activity of performing witchcraft, as is mentioned in a book I read for Ancient World, The Golden Ass

2. We passed over the aqueduct that brings water from a far western area to Athens. The aqueduct was open, and we could literally see the water we’d drink or bathe in soon. The aqueduct is 200km long.

3. Unlike the Oracle of Zeus, you can only consult the Oracle of Apollo once a month for 9 months because Apollo would go on vacation and Dionysos took over.

4. Some people, it they make an important dedication to Delphi, got to cut in line. They got precedence. People from Naxos, for instance!

5. I learned a tongue twister in Greek! I can’t type it because I can barely say it, so…

ALLLLLLLL THA FEEEEEEELZ

THE MOMENT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR….

Anna Barnes! I have been told you have read my blog! I’m very excited to hear that. 🙂 Trust me, I still have a week here and I will survive going home…barely. But I appreciate your worry. And can I say how wonderful of a job you did with your son. He is the best professor I’ve ever had and really cares about his students. Thanks for spawning him. *thumbs up*

So, today was super cool!!! Delphi is incredible. It’s a gorgeous view over a river valley, and you can see ruins below and above you. At some points, you have to stop and take it all in so you can realize where you are. The center of the world for Ancient Greece. The place where the most important political, strategic, and religious decisions were made. That’s what happens in Greece. That’s another reason I can’t leave.

Now I need to go to bed. I am exhausted and tomorrow is the farewell dinner, so I’m gonna need to rest my eyes for the crying and whatnot. Heading back to Athens tomorrow, and then a 6am departure for Santorini the next day! EXCITING. THINGS ARE EXCITING. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THE END OF THE TRIP IS NEARING ME. NO ONE REMIND ME. THANKS.

Peace ‘n’ Blessin’s ❤

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