At the bottom of
the cella existed the adyton that was constituted by an
above-section with a golden statue of Apollo and another
underground in which Pythia - Apollo's priestess- went
down in order to give the oracle. The underground
section was divided once again in two spaces the "house"
and the "antron". In the "house" were remaining the "theopropoi"
that is to say those who asked for oracle and the priests,
while in the "antron" entered only Pythia who was
sitting in a tripod hearing the question of the "theopropoi", and
coming in situation of ecstasy from the steams that
emerged from a "gap of the ground ", from the laurel that
chewed, from the water of Cassotis which she drunk, and
from the faith that at this moment she came in
communication with the god, she answered with
inarticulate cries the question. The priests recorder the voices
and gave the answer sometimes in metre speech and
sometimes with common phrases.
There is interest to what happened before the prophecy:
Pythia, the theopropoi and the priests had to be washed
into the Castalia to be clear in soul and body since
they will entered the sanctum. Theopropoi in order to
take their oracle they were paying a sum of money and
they sacrificed on the altar, a bull, a pig or a goat.
The animal should have been absolutely healthy and
satisfying certain conditions otherwise was not given
the oracle. The oracles were initially given only a time
the by year's, in 7 the month Thargelion (day of birth
of Apollo). Later they were given once a month, apart
from the 3 of the winter, therefore they believed that
Apollo was absent in the North, and in the sanctuary
Dionysos dominated. Right in the oracle had firstly the
residents of Delphi and those who had acquired an oracle
after they had made big offers to the holy, as Chians
did. The others waited for in line and the turn was
determinated by lot.
If judging by the variety and richness of the offerings
made to the temple, from the remote areas, and from the
kings from where they came (Midas, Croesus, etc.) we can
see how great was the power of the oracle in ancient
times and how great was the role that played in
relations between states and individuals in the society
of the Greek city.
The worship of the god
and the fame of the oracle expanded very fast, having
the result in the 7th BC cent. to be implemented an
already organised religious center known throughout the
world, judging from the offerings devoted to it. At the
same time, the Oracle contributed decisively to the
large Greek colonization, since almost all of the
metropolis (the cities that have sent settlers)
consulted the god to the place of colonization, and the
chances of success.
Big role in the shine of the sanctuary played also its
connection with the amphictyony of Thessaly and Central
Greece. That was one of the many associations,
neighboring cities with public religious centre and
common political objectives, and have been located
around the Anthili at Thermopylae.
When however the automn meeting of the representatives
of all cities was transferrred at the beginning of 6th
c.BC to Delphi, they became the religious and political
centre of the amphictyony.
This had two major consequences: a) The amphictyony
acquired the direct control of the sanctuary and
protected it by its enemies and b) due to the
attractiveness of the temple, the amphictyony was
quickly surpassed its local character, and became the
pan-hellenic political centre playing the role of
arbitrator in conflicts between cities - states of
ancient Greece for several centuries.