Postechian Column: Prophet of Delphi
Postechian Column: Prophet of Delphi
  • Kang Tae-won (Muenjae 21)
  • 승인 2022.06.19 23:44
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Editor’s note: The following is a fictional first person narrative of the oracle in the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex. 

Where I landed was called Delphi by the locals. The temple of Apollo was built on Mount Parnassus, with great limestone cliffs surrounding its three sides. A perfect natural citadel. One could see a beautiful green valley stretched out in front of the temple. If one were to walk up the road, they would see buildings filled with treasuries donated by the wealthiest and strongest in the Greek world, which pilgrims can’t help but look in awe. I had a distaste for primitive civilizations until I found this one. Only a short time had passed before becoming fond of this view. I might miss this place when the time comes for me to go back.
Winter had gone, and it was the start of nine months that the oracle gave prophecies. The air still had a cold, crisp feeling. A long line of humans could be seen, waiting to hear from the ‘oracle’ of Delphi. Each of them was bringing offerings to the temple. They reminded me of ants, as the insects also blindly move in line to carry food to their home. I looked to the back of the line. Considering the oracle gives a prophecy once a month, they will have to wait. A smile cropped up on my face. It was interesting, to say the least, to observe and interact with them. Yet, if another of their kind finds out about the truth of the oracle, it may take it differently.
I stood at the entrance to the temple, between the white marble columns as a man and a woman climbed the slope leading right to me. I had learned enough about humans to acknowledge that they were of noble birth. People of this kind usually ask whether he should declare war, expand colonies, and sometimes for repeated pregnancy failure. I waited for them to come close, then led them to the waiting hall. As they got close, I noticed they had already purged themselves in the holy spring. A tradition I had greatly benefited from, considering most people have traveled from afar and the odor was quite far from bearable. The man passed me a stone tablet he was holding which I read. 
I, King Laius of Thebes, am in trouble of having an heir and therefore seek the oracle’s guidance.
I gave a nod to the man, turned my back on them, and beckoned them to follow me. I stood before the entrance of the adyton, a chamber where only the Pythia can enter. They are all women, named after the great monster Python. In the chamber, the Pythia will be sitting on a tripod, chewing laurel leaves while incense burns. Then I, the prophet, would decipher her ravings into a supposed prophecy. It truly is an astonishing ritual to an outsider, it was to me, at least. I know laurel leaves are poisonous to the human body and bring seizures upon the eater. This makes the whole ‘oracle’ process more believable. Although nothing coming out of her mouth means anything. What’s really fascinating is the amount of faith that is given to my interpretation, even though they also heard the same sound I did. This species has so much faith in the prophecy, that they tend to make it happen whatever you tell them. If I tell this man the prophecy is

You should die a victim
at the hands of your own 
son, a son to be born
of the king and queen

Even if the exact thing does not happen, they think it meant something else. How adorable, to believe so deeply that they blame themselves for not understanding the prophecy right. Because of this, the temple offers two warnings. Know yourself and do nothing in excess. But really, who can blame them? After all, as far as they know, the oracle’s prophecy had never been wrong. And to them, it never will be.


Kang Tae-won (Muenjae 21)