♠ Homeric Hymn to Apollo 3.214-545
Or shall I sing how at the first you went about the earth seeking a place of oracle for men, O far-shooting Apollo? To Pieria first you went down from Olympus and passed by sandy Lectus and Enienae and through the land of the Perrhaebi. Soon you came to Iolcus and set foot on Cenaeum in Euboea, famed for ships: you stood in the Lelantine plain, but it pleased not your heart to make a temple there and wooded groves. From there you crossed the Euripus, far-shooting Apollo, and went up the green, holy hills, going on to Mycalessus and grassy-bedded Teumessus. Continue Reading. Greek Text
♠ Aristonoos, Paean to Apollo 1.17-24 Pow
Purged in the Vale of Tempe by the will of Zeus on high, helped by Pallas on your way to Pytho – O hail Paean – you talked Gaia, the flower-nurse, and Themis of the lovely hair, into giving you the perfumed seat of power – O Paean.
♠ Plutarch, Moralia 293c
♠ Plutarch, Moralia 421c
♠ Pindar fr 55 SM – Pindarus 2, p. 67, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1975.
♠ Aischylos, Eumenides 1-8
The Priestess of Pythian Apollo
First, in this prayer of mine, I give the place of highest honor among the gods to the first prophet, Earth; and after her to Themis, for she was the second to take this oracular seat of her mother, as legend tells. And in the third allotment, with Themis’ consent and not by force, another Titan, child of Earth, Phoebe, took her seat here. She gave it as a birthday gift to Phoebus, who has his name from Phoebe. Greek Text
♠ Euripides, Iphigeneia among the Tauroi 1239-58
For the mother, leaving the famous birth-place, brought him from the ridges of the sea to the heights of Parnassus, with its gushing waters, which celebrate the revels for Dionysus. Here the dark-faced serpent with brightly colored back, his scales of bronze in the leaf-shaded laurel, huge monster of the earth, guarded Earth’s prophetic shrine. You killed him, o Phoebus, while still a baby, still leaping in the arms of your dear mother, and you entered the holy shrine, and sit on the golden tripod, on your truthful throne distributing prophecies from the gods to mortals, up from the sanctuary, neighbor of Castalia’s streams, as you dwell in the middle of the earth. Greek Text
♠ Euripides, Iphigeneia among the Tauroi 1259-83
But when he came and sent Themis, the child of Earth, away from the holy oracle of Pytho, Earth gave birth to dream visions of the night; and they told to the cities of men the present, and what will happen in the future, through dark beds of sleep on the ground; and so Earth took the office of prophecy away from Phoebus, in envy, because of her daughter. The lord made his swift way to Olympus and wound his baby hands around the throne of Zeus, to take the wrath of the earth goddess from the Pythian home. Zeus smiled, that the child so quickly came to ask for worship that pays in gold. He shook his locks of hair, to put an end to the night voices, and took away from mortals the truth that appears in darkness, and gave the privilege back again to Loxias, and to mortals confidence in the songs of prophecy at the throne visited by many men. Greek Text
♠ Hyginus, Fabulae 140
PYTHON: Python, offspring of Terra, was a huge dragon who, before the time of Apollo, used to give oracular responses on Mount Parnassus. Death was fated to come to him from the offspring of Latona. At that time Jove lay with Latona, daughter of Polus. When Juno found this out, she decreed (?) that Latona should give birth at a place where the sun did not shine. When Python knew that Latona was pregnant by Jove, he followed her to kill her. But by order of Jove the wind Aquilo carried Latona away, and bore her to Neptune. He protected her, but in order not to make voice Juno’s decree, he took her to the island Ortygia, and covered the island with waves. When Python did not find her, he returned to Parnassus. But Neptune brought the island of Ortygia up to a higher position; it was later called the island of Delos. There Latona, clinging to an olive tree, bore Apollo and Diana, to whom Vulcan gave arrows as gifts. Four days after they were born, Apollo exacted vengeance for his mother. For he went to Parnassus and slew Python with his arrows. (Because of this deed he is called Pythian.) He put Python’s bones in a cauldron, deposited them in his temple, and instituted funeral games for him which are called Pythian. Latin Text
♦ Paris, Biliothèque Nationale (Cabinet des Médailles) 306: Attic black-figure white-ground lekythos, Leto with Apollo as archer, Python
Artistic sources edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., and Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, June 2019.
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