go to content go to search box go to global site navigation

Delphi

History

Delphi’s renown reached its height between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, when multitudes of pilgrims came to ask advice of its oracle, who was believed to speak for Apollo.

Although Delphi was protected by the Amphictyonic League, a federation of Greek states, the surrounding territory belonged to Krisa. The first of several territorial disputes over Delphi led to the First Sacred War (595–586 BC), in which the league destroyed the port of Krisa, and then took control of the sacred sanctuary, making Delphi an autonomous state that enjoyed great prosperity from numerous benefactors, including the kings of Lydia and Egypt, and Hadrian.

In 191 BC, Delphi was taken by the Romans, and in 86 BC, the Roman Sulla plundered the sanctuary. But other emperors, fascinated by its reputation, kept the rituals at Delphi alive, well into the 2nd century AD, when the oracle’s influence began to dwindle for issues ranging from religious and political to personal. The sanctuary struggled along until it was abolished by the Christian emperor Theodosius in the late 4th century AD.