There is preserved in Suidas' Lexicon a story about Polycrates of Samos and the island of Delos. It is offered by the lexicographer as an explanation of the phrase τατ σοι κα πύθια κα δλια , when used in a colloquial sense to mean ‘it's all the same to you’. Polycrates had instituted a festival on Delos and asked the Pythia whether to call it by the one name or the other. The phrase, which was supposed to have been the (...) Pythia's reply, was taken to mean that it was all the same to Polycrates whatever he called it, and the death of Polycrates, coming soon after, was interpreted as the fulfilment of the prophecy. Suidas cites Epicurus and Menander for the phrase itself, which was therefore in familiar use by the end of the fourth century B.C. As for the story about Polycrates, it is quite likely that Suidas' ultimate source was some writer of about that period, such as Demon, περ παροιμιν. It is very much in the manner of his fragments. (shrink)
In the for 1952 , pp. 33 ff., Nikolaos M. Kontoleon published a most interesting inscription from the shrine of Archilochos on Paros. It was inscribed, as preserved, on two orthostats, which probably formed part of the structure of the hearth or bothros where offerings to the hero were made. There is much of interest to scholars in this new discovery, which is very fully and carefully interpreted by Kontoleon, and has been further discussed by Werner Peck . In this (...) article the present writer wishes to confine himself to some comments on the new evidence about responses of the Delphic oracle supplied by the inscription. This material is all found on the first of the two orthostats, and falls into two categories: responses connected with the setting up of the shrine, and responses connected with the life of Archilochus. (shrink)
The Hellenistic temple of Apollo at Didyma presents several unique features in its plan. In its exterior it resembles the typical large Ionic temple of Asia Minor with a double colonnade surrounding it, no opisthodomus, and a pronaos containing three rows of four columns each. But at this point the plan of the temple was modified in the strangest manner. For the pronaos does not lead by a great central doorway into the cella, but where the doorway should come, the (...) worshipper entering the building found himself faced with a blank wall 1·495 rn high with above it a colossal opening 5·63 m wide. Consequently the worshipper in the pronaos could not even look directly into the sanctuary. Instead, just above his eye-level beyond the embrasure of this ‘window’ stretched the floor of a large room, 14·04 m by 6·73 m with its roof supported on two columns. Through this room's central door the spectator on ground level outside could catch a glimpse of the upper part of the naiskos in the inner court. (shrink)
In Plutarch's two narratives of the recapture of the Cadmea by the Thebans, 379/8 B.C. , he speaks of three harmosts as in command of the Spartan garrison. This is the only instance in Spartan history where more than one harmost is mentioned as exercising authority in the same city, and it suggests the question: Was Thebes for some reason receiving different treatment from the other cities where we hear of harmosts in residence ?
Zosimus, after recording the foundation and immense growth of Constantinople, introduces a digression directed towards his purpose of justifying paganism against Christianity. ‘It has often indeed occurred to me to wonder how, when the city of the Byzantines has grown, so that no other can compare with it for prosperity and size, there was no prophecy delivered from the gods of our predecessors about its development to a better fortune. With this thought in mind I have turned over many volumes (...) of histories and collections of oracles, and with difficulty I happened upon one oracle said to be of the Sibyl of Erythrae or of Phaennis of Epirus. Nicomedes, the son of Prusias, put his confidence in this oracle, and interpreting it in an advantageous sense he took up war against his father, Prusias, at the persuasion of Attalus.’ Zosimus proceeds to quote twenty-one lines of hexameter verse, which have come down in a rather corrupt state, but of which the general sense is reasonably clear. They consist mainly of an obvious post eventum forecast of the Gallic invasion of Asia Minor in the third century B.C. (shrink)
Our chief evidence for the days on which the Delphic oracle could be consulted comes, as is well known, from a passage in the Quaestiones Graecae of Plutarch . He is explaining the name of the Delphic month Bysios, which he derives from the verbs for inquiry , and adds the comment: ν т μην γρ тούт χρησтήριον γίγνεο, κα έβδóμην таüтην νομίζουσι тο θεο γενέθλιο, κα πολύθοον νομάζουσι, ο δι тò πέттεσθαι θóïς λλ πολυπευθ κα πολυμάνтευтον οσαν. ψ γŰρ (...) νείθησαν ακαтŰ μνα μανтεᔞᔦ тος δεομένοις, πóтεπον δ' ᾰπαξ θεμίσтευεν Пυθία тο νιαυтο καтŰ тαύтην тν μέραν, ώς Кαλλισθένης κα 'Ạναξανδρίης ίςтρήκασι. (shrink)
Plutarch in his Life of Agis describes the plots by which Lysandrus the ephor contrived to depose King Leonidas II. He meant to use against him one of the Spartan laws which forbade a member of the royal houses from begetting children by a foreign woman, and another by which he who went out of Sparta with a view to settling abroad was liable to the death penalty. But though apparently a case could be made out against Leonidas under these (...) charges, Lysandrus did not simply proceed with the prosecution. After instructing confederates who would bring the case, he with his fellow ephors ‘waited for the sign’. What this meant Plutarch explains in these words: στι δ τοινδε· δι' τν1 ννα1 λαβντες ο οροι νκτα καθαρν κα σληνον, σιωπ καθζονται πρς τν ορανν ποβλποντες. ν ον κ μρους τινς ες τερον μρος στρ διξ, κρνουσι τος βασιλες, ς περ τ θεον ξαμαρτνοντας, κα καταπαουσι τς ρχς, μχρις ν κ Δελν ἢ λυμπας χρησμς λθτος λωκσι τν βασιλων βοηθν. (shrink)
In a recent number Mr. O. J. Todd has discussed the clumsy scansion of a line in a Delphic oracle, and has called fresh attention to the problem of the Pythia's prophesyings in verse. The chief difficulty consists in the differences between the indications on this subject as given by our various sources. The conventional phrases in most authors from Pindar and Herodotus until late periods describe the responses as uttered by the Pythia herself. This picture seems to imply that (...) the Pythia originated the verse form of the oracle. But this view would take no account of the existence of the official known as the προφήτης whose business was evidently to deliver the response to the inquirer. (shrink)