Delphi

Delphi  (del ´).—A small town in Phocis, very celebrated on account of its oracle of Apollo. Homer always refers to it under its old name, Pytho. It was looked upon as the central point of the whole earth, and was hence called “the navel of the earth.” The oracle was consulted in the center of the splendid temple of Apollo. Here there was a small opening in the ground, from which a mephitic vapor occasionally arose. A tripod was placed over this opening, and the priestess—called Pythia, from Pytho—sat on it. In this way she inhaled the vapor, and the words she then uttered were believed to be inspired by Apollo. The priests took the words down and communicated them to the persons who had desired to consult the oracle.