polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: delphi

Homilia de sacrilegiis 5

“And whoever consults seers or seeresses, that is pythonesses, through whom devils make reply, who goes to question them and believes what they say, or goes to listen to them attentively in order to hear anything from demons – he is not Christian but a Pagan.” – Homilia de sacrilegiis 5

Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

“And Sokrates advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and consult the god in regard to this journey. So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind and, after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety; and Apollon in his response told him to what gods he must sacrifice. When Xenophon came back from Delphi, he reported the oracle to Sokrates; and upon hearing about it Sokrates found fault with him because he did not first put the question whether it were better for him to go or stay, but decided for himself that he was to go and then asked the god as to the best way of going. However, he added, since you did put the question in that way, you must do all that the god directed.” – Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 364e-365e

“That Osiris is identical with Dionysos who could more fittingly know than yourself, Klea? For you are at the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris. If, however, for the benefit of others it is needful to adduce proofs of this identity, let us leave undisturbed what may not be told, but the public ceremonies which the priests perform in the burial of the Apis, when they convey his body on an improvised bier, do not in any way come short of a Bacchic procession; for they fasten skins of fawns about themselves, and carry Bacchic wands and indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies. For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysos in the form of a bull; and the women of Elis invoke him, praying that the god may come with the hoof of a bull; and the epithet applied to Dionysos among the Argives is ‘Son of the Bull.’ They call him up out of the water by the sound of trumpets, at the same time casting into the depths a lamb as an offering to the Keeper of the Gate. The trumpets they conceal in Bacchic wands, as Socrates has stated in his treatise On The Holy Ones. Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysos rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysos wake the God of the Mystic Basket. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysos as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar be our witness, when he says ‘May gladsome Dionysos swell the fruit upon the trees, the hallowed splendour of harvest time.’ For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 364e-365e

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.23.1

“In Alea at Arkadia there is a temple of Dionysos with an image. In honor of Dionysos they celebrate every other year a festival called Skiereia, and at this festival, in obedience to a response from Delphoi, women are flogged.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.23.1

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.4.3

“Homer speaks of the beautiful dancing-floors of Panopeus, I could not understand until I was taught by the women whom the Athenians call Thyiades. The Thyiades are Attic women, who with the Delphian women go to Parnassos every other year and celebrate orgies in honor of Dionysos. It is the custom for these Thyiades to hold dances at places, including Panopeus, along the road from Athens. The epithet Homer applies to Panopeus is thought to refer to the dance of the Thyiades.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.4.3

Ammianus Marcellinus, The History 12.1-19

“Yet in the midst of these anxieties, as if it were prescribed by some ancient custom, in place of civil wars the trumpets sounded for alleged cases of high treason; and to investigate and punish these there was sent that notorious state-secretary Paulus, often called Tartareus. He was skilled in the work of bloodshed, and just as a trainer of gladiators seeks profit and emolument from the traffic in funerals and festivals, so did he from the rack or the executioner. Therefore, as his determination to do harm was fixed and obstinate, he did not refrain from secret fraud, devising fatal charges against innocent persons, provided only he might continue his pernicious traffic. Moreover, a slight and trivial occasion gave opportunity to extend his inquisitions indefinitely. There is a town called Abydos, situated in the remotest part of the Thebaid; here the oracle of a god called in that place Besa in days of old revealed the future and was wont to be honoured in the ancient ceremonials of the adjacent regions. And since some in person, a part through others, by sending a written list of their desires, inquired the will of the deities after definitely stating their requests, the papers or parchments containing their petitions sometimes remained in the shrine even after the replies had been given. Some of these were with malicious intent sent to the emperor who (being very narrow-minded), although deaf to other serious matters, on this point was softer than an earlobe, as the proverb has it; and being suspicious and petty, he grew furiously angry. At once he admonished Paulus to proceed quickly to the Orient, conferring on him, as a leader renowned for his experience, the power of conducting trials according to his good pleasure. A commission was also given to Modestus (at that very time count in the Orient) a man fitted for these and similar affairs. For Hermogenes of Pontus, at that time praetorian prefect, was rejected as being of too mild a temper. Off went Paulus (as he was ordered) in panting haste and teeming with deadly fury, and since free rein was given to general calumny, men were brought in from almost the whole world, noble and obscure alike; and some of them were bowed down with the weight of chains, others wasted away from the agony of imprisonment. As the theatre of torture and death Scythopolis was chosen, a city of Palestine which for two reasons seemed more suitable than any other: because it is more secluded, and because it is midway between Antioch and Alexandria, from which cities the greater number were brought to meet charges. Among the first, then, to be summoned was Simplicius, son of Philippus, a former prefect and consul, who was indicted for the reason that he had (as was said) inquired about gaining imperial power; and by a note of the emperor, who in such cases never condoned a fault or an error because of loyal service, he was ordered to be tortured but, protected by some fate, he was banished to a stated place, but with a whole skin. Then Parnasius (ex-prefect of Egypt), a man of simple character, was brought into such peril that he was tried for his life, but he likewise was sent into exile; he had often been heard to say long before this, that when, for the purpose of gaining a certain office, he left Patrae, a town of Achaia where he was born and had his home, he had dreamt that many shadowy figures in tragic garb escorted him. Later Andronicus, known for his liberal studies and the fame of his poems, was haled into court; but since he had a clear conscience, was under no suspicion, and most confidently asserted his innocence, he was acquitted. Also Demetrius, surnamed Cythras, a philosopher of advanced years, it is true, but hardy of body and mind, being charged with offering sacrifice several times, could not deny it; he declared, however, that he had done so from early youth for the purpose of propitiating the deity, not of trying to reach a higher station by his investigations; for he did not know of anyone who had such aspirations. Therefore, after being long kept upon the rack, supported by his firm confidence he fearlessly made the same plea without variation; whereupon he was allowed to go without further harm to his native city of Alexandria. These and a few others a just fate in alliance with truth saved from imminent danger. But as these charges made their way further by entangling snares extended endlessly, some died from the mangling of their bodies, others were condemned to further punishment and had their goods seized, while Paulus was the prompter of these scenes of cruelty, supplying as if from a storehouse many kinds of deception and cruelty; and on his nod (I might almost say) depended the life of all who walk the earth. For if anyone wore on his neck an amulet against the quartan ague or any other complaint, or was accused by the testimony of the evil-disposed of passing by a grave in the evening, on the ground that he was a dealer in poisons, or a gatherer of the horrors of tombs and the vain illusions of the ghosts that walk there, he was condemned to capital punishment and so perished. In fact, the matter was handled exactly as if many men had importuned Claros, the oaks of Dodona, and the once famous oracles of Delphi with regard to the death of the emperor. Therefore the palace band of courtiers, ingeniously fabricating shameful devices of flattery, declared that he would be immune to ordinary ills, loudly exclaiming that his destiny had appeared at all times powerful and effective in destroying those who made attempts against him. And that into such doings strict investigation was made no man of good sense will find fault. For we do not deny that the safety of a lawful prince, the protector and defender of good men, on whom depends the safety of others, ought to be safeguarded by the united diligence of all men; and in order to uphold him the more strongly when his violated majesty is defended, the Cornelian laws exempted no one of whatever estate from examination by torture, even with the shedding of blood. But it is not seemly for a prince to rejoice beyond measure in such sorrowful events, lest his subjects should seem to be ruled by despotism rather than by lawful power. And the example of Tully ought to be followed, who, when it was in his power to spare or to harm, as he himself tells us, sought excuses for pardoning rather than opportunities for punishing; and that is the province of a mild and considerate official. At that same time in Daphne, that charming and magnificent suburb of Antioch, a portent was born, horrible to see and to report: an infant, namely, with two heads, two sets of teeth, a beard, four eyes and two very small ears; and this misshapen birth foretold that the state was turning into a deformed condition. Portents of this kind often see the light, as indications of the outcome of various affairs; but as they are not expiated by public rites, as they were in the time of our forefathers, they pass by unheard of and unknown.” – Ammianus Marcellinus, The History 12.1-19

IMagnMai 215

(Side A) To good fortune!  During the presidency of Akrodemos, son of Dioteimos, the Magnesian people consulted the god concerning a sign which happened.  For an image of Dionysos was visible in a tree that had been struck by lightening and blown by a heavy wind.  What does this mean?  Why does it continue?  In order to find this out, oracular messengers named Hermonax, son of Epikratos, and Aristarchos, son of Diodoros, were sent to Delphi.

The god answered:

Magnesians, who obtained the holy city on the Maeander river and defend our possessions: you came to hear from my mouth what the appearance of Bakchos, seen lying by a bush, means.  He was made manifest while still a youth, when the clear‑aired city was founded but temples were not yet built for Dionysos.

Now do the following, oh extremely strong people.  Dedicate temples which delight in the wand of the god and appoint a perfect and sacred priest.  Come onto Thebes’ holy ground, so that you may receive maenads who are descendants of Ino, Kadmos’ daughter.  They will give to you good rites and customs and will consecrate Bacchic associations (thiasoi) in the city.

According to the oracle and by means of the oracular messengers, three maenads named Kosko, Baubo, and Thettale were sent from Thebes.  Kosko gathered together the association of Platanistenai, Baubo the association before the city, and Thettale the association of Kataibatai.  They died and were buried by the Magnesians.  Kosko lies in Koskobounos district, Baubo in Tabarnis district, and Thettale near the theatre.

(Side B)  Apollonios Mokolles, ancient initiate, dedicated this ancient oracle to the god Dionysos, inscribing it upon a plaque together with the altar.

– IMagnMai 215

Demosthenes, Against Meidias 51-54

Now if I had not been chorus-master, men of Athens, when I was thus maltreated by Meidias, it is only the personal insult that one would have condemned; but under the circumstances I think one would be justified in condemning also the impiety of the act. You surely realize that all your choruses and hymns to the god are sanctioned, not only by the regulations of the Dionysia, but also by the oracles, in all of which, whether given at Delphi or at Dodona, you will find a solemn injunction to the State to set up dances after the ancestral custom, to fill the streets with the savour of sacrifice, and to wear garlands.

Please take and read the actual oracles.

“Oracles You I address, Pandion’s townsmen and sons of Erechtheus,
who appoint your feasts by the ancient rites of your fathers.
See you forget not Bacchus, and joining all in the dances
Down your broad-spaced streets, in thanks for the gifts of the season,
Crown each head with a wreath, while incense reeks on the altars.
For health sacrifice and pray to Zeus Most High, to Heracles, and to Apollo the Protector; for good fortune to Apollo, god of the streets, to Leto, and to Artemis; and along the streets set wine-bowls and dances, and wear garlands after the manner of your fathers in honor of all gods and all goddesses of Olympus, raising right hands and left in supplication, and remember your gifts.”

“Oracles from Dodona
To the people of the Athenians the prophet of Zeus announces. Whereas ye have let pass the seasons of the sacrifice and of the sacred embassy, he bids you send nine chosen envoys, and that right soon. To Zeus of the Ship sacrifice three oxen and with each ox three sheep; to Dione one ox and a brazen table for the offering which the people of the Athenians have offered.

The prophet of Zeus in Dodona announces. To Dionysus pay public sacrifices and mix a bowl of wine and set up dances; to Apollo the Averter sacrifice an ox and wear garlands, both free men and slaves, and observe one day of rest; to Zeus, the giver of wealth, a white bull.”

Besides these oracles, men of Athens, there are many others addressed to our city, and excellent oracles they are. Now what conclusion ought you to draw from them? That while they prescribe the sacrifices to the gods indicated in each oracle, to every oracle that is published they add the injunction to set up dances and to wear garlands after the manner of our ancestors.

– Demosthenes, Against Midias 51-54

Arrian, Anabasis 4.11.2-9

“Callisthenes broke in and said: ‘Anaxarchus, I declare Alexander unworthy of no honour appropriate for a man; but men have used numerous ways of distinguishing all the honours which are appropriate for men and for gods; thus we build temples and erect images and set aside precincts for the gods, and we offer them sacrifices and libations and compose hymns to them, while eulogies are for men; but the most important distinction concerns the matter of obeisance. At greeting men receive a kiss, but what is divine, I suppose because it is seated above us and we are forbidden even to touch it, is for that very reason honoured by obeisance; dances, too, are held for the gods, and paeans sung in their praise. In this distinction there is nothing surprising, since among the gods themselves all are not honoured in the same way; and what is more, there are different honours for the heroes, distinct again from those paid to gods. It is not, therefore, proper to confuse all this, by raising mortals to extravagant proportions by excesses of honour, while bringing the gods, as far as men can, down to a demeaning and unfitting level by honouring them in the same way as men. So Alexander himself would not endure it for a moment, if some private person were to thrust himself into the royal honours by unjust election or vote, and the gods would have far better cause to be displeased with any men who thrust themselves or permit others to thrust them into divine honours. Alexander both is and is thought to be above all measure the bravest of the brave, most kingly of kings, most worthy to command of all commanders. As for you, Anaxarchus, you above all should have expounded these argument and stopped those on the other side, as you are attending on Alexander as philosopher and instructor. It was improper for you to take the lead in this topic; you should rather have remembered that you are not attending nor advising a Cambyses or Xerxes, but a son of Philip, a descendent of Heracles and of Aeacus, whose forefathers came from Argos to Macedonia, and have continued to rule the Macedonians not by force but in accordance with custom. Even Heracles himself did not receive divine honours from the Greeks in his own lifetime, nor even after his death till the god of Delphi gave his sanction to honouring him as a god. If, however, we must think like barbarians, as we are speaking in their country, even so I appeal personally to you, Alexander, to remember Greece, on whose behalf you made your whole expedition, to annex Asia to Greece. Consider this too; when you return there, will you actually compel the Greeks as well, the freest of mankind, to do you obeisance, or will you keep away from the Greeks, but put this dishonour on the Macedonians, or will you yourself make a distinction once for all in this matter of honours and receive from Greeks and Macedonians honours of a human and Greek style, and barbarian honours only from barbarians? But if it is said of Cyrus son of Cambyses that he was the first of men to receive obeisance and that therefore this humiliation became traditional with Persians and Medes, you must remember that this very Cyrus was brought to his senses by the Scythians, a people poor but free, Darius too by other Scythians, Xerxes by Athenians and Lacedaemonians, and Artaxerxes by Clearchus, Xenophon and their Ten Thousand, and Darius by Alexander here, who does not receive obeisance.’” – Arrian, Anabasis 4.11.2-9

Proclus, On the Signs of Divine Possession

“He [i.e. Proclus] speaks first about the differences which separate the so-called Divine Powers, how some are more material and others more immaterial, some joyous (hilarai) and others solemn (embritheis), some arrive along with daemons and others arrive pure. Straight afterwards he goes on to the proper conditions for invocation: the places in which it occurs, about those men and women who see the Divine Light, and about the divine gestures (schêmatôn) and signs (sunthêmatôn) they display. In this way he gets around to the Theagogies of divine inspiration (tas entheastikas theagôgias)[a theagôgia is a drawing in or drawing down of the divine]. “Of which, ” he says “some act on inanimate objects and others on animate beings: some on those which are rational, others on the irrational ones. Inanimate objects, ” he continues “are often filled with Divine Light, like the statues which give oracles under the inspiration (epipnoias) of one of the Gods or Good Daemons. So too, there are men who are possessed and who receive a Divine Spirit (pneuma theion). Some receive it spontaneously, like those who are said to be ‘seized by God’ (theolêptoi), either at particular times, or intermittently and on occasion. There are others who work themselves up into a state of inspiration (entheasmôn) by deliberate actions, like the prophetess at Delphi when she sits over the chasm, and others who drink from divinatory water”. Next, after having said what they have to do [i. e. to gain divine inspiration], he continues “When these things occur, then in order for a Theagogy and an inspiration (epipnoian) to take effect, they must be accompanied by a change in consciousness (parallaxia tês dianoias). When divine inspiration (entheasmôn) comes there are some cases where the possessed (tôn katochôn) become completely besides themselves and unconscious of themselves (existamenôn…kai oudamôs heautois parakolouthountôn). But there are others where, in some remarkable manner, they maintain consciousness. In these cases it is possible for the subject to work the Theagogy on himself, and when he receives the inspiration (epipnoian), is aware of what it [i.e. the Divine Power] does and what it says, and what he has to do release the mechanism [of possession](pothen dei apoluein to kinoun). However, when the loss of consciousness (ekstaseôs) is total, it is essential that someone in full command of his faculties assists the possessed”. Then, after many details about the different kinds of Theagogy, he finally concludes: “It is necessary to begin by removing all the obstacles blocking the arrival of the Gods and to impose an absolute calm around ourselves in order that the manifestation of the Spirits (pneumata) we invoke takes place without tumult and in peace (atarachos kai meta galênês)”. He adds further “The manifestations of the Gods are often accompanied by material Spirits which arrive and move with a certain degree of violence, and which the weaker mediums cannot withstand.” – Proclus Diadochus, On the Signs of Divine Possession quoted in Psellus’ Accusation against Michael Cerularius before the Synod