About Gnóthi Seavtón inscribed
on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece.
We draw our inspiration
from the bedrock of western civilisation, the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. Apollo is,
amongst other things, the god of healing and medicine.
Greece is home to a number of oracles
but the best known of these is in Delphi that is beautifully located on the
slopes of Mount Parnassus, with stunning views of the Gulf of Corinth.
In Delphi there are cool springs, towering trees and beautiful flowers:
the entire area is a place of harmony and divinity.
At the heart of Delphi, the Temple of Apollo is built over a hot spring that
emits potent natural gases – which are believed to be why people worshipped
Gaia here, the goddess of the Earth, before Apollo.
The oracle was to be found at Apollo’s temple
and during antiquity it was considered to be the centre of the world for
hundreds of years. The oracle Pythia provided answers to people of the
time – whether they were rulers or commoners. The desire to predict what
the future had in store, that is, to interpret and understand what would happen
if you made particular choices, was as widely felt then as it is now. Pythia sat
on a tripod, a kind of three-legged stool, and inhaling the volcanic vapours,
went into a trance before giving partially cryptic answers that then needed to
be interpreted by oracle priests to provide visitors with Apollo’s response.
People believed that the oracle was Apollo’s voice on earth and was treated
with great reverence.
Oracles were however often replaced, and tended to be young unmarried
women from the surrounding area. Priests kept abreast of world events,
and could thus often guess pronouncements correctly and leave visitors
satisfied with their answers. Delphi became wealthy and respected, and was
able to build more temples, a beautiful theatre and a stadium. The priests made
sure that they were also ambiguous in their interpretations so that if they
guessed wrong, people could always interpret the response in the opposite
way that it had been intended.
One well-known prophecy
was that Croesus, King of Lydia, (now part of Turkey), asked the oracle
whether he would be victorious in war against Persia. The oracle replied that
if Croesus crossed the river Halys he would destroy a great empire. Croesus
took this as a positive sign, but shortly after crossing the river, Persians
attached his forces and won – the powerful empire destroyed was Croesus’s
As people entered the Temple of Apollo
in the courtyard they would see three maxims inscribed in the temple’s
forecourt: “Everything in moderation,” “Do what you mean to do” and perhaps
most well known: “Know yourself.”
According to legend, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, and his twin sister
was Artemis, goddess of hunting.
He is the god of music, playing with his golden lyre. His weapon was a silver
bow and arrow. He was also god of truth, which made him incapable of lying.
Most of all however, Apollo was considered the god of light, wisdom, divine art
and poetry. He is also known as the god of medical judgment. The bay tree is
his tree, the raven his bird and dolphin his animal.
Apollo’s son was Asclepius
who became god of healing. Asclepius’s temples sprang up all over ancient
Greece, the holiest of which was in Epidaurus. These temples were akin to
today’s health spa resorts. Paintings from the period apparently show
operations being conducted under so-called temple hypnotherapy. People
slept in the temples and were probably also treated with hypnotherapy for
Bra Böckers Lexikon 2000
& Edelstein : Asclepius, Vols. I & II
MEDUSA : Tidskrift