February 22, 2013

0516 GREECE (Central Greece) - Archaeological Site of Delphi (UNESCO WHS)

Located in lower central Greece, on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis, Delphi is best known for the oracle at the sanctuary that was dedicated to Apollo after he slew the Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth. Apollo's sacred precinct was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 776 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic games, precursors of the Modern Olympics. In the inner hestia (hearth) of the temple, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi. Carved into the temple were three phrases ("know thyself", "nothing in excess", and "make a pledge and mischief is nigh"), attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece.

Apollo spoke through his oracle: the sibyl or priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia. She sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied, her ravings being "translated" by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters.

Invading barbarian invasions burned the temple, which had been severely damaged by an earthquake in 83 BC. Thus the Oracle fell in decay and the surrounding area became impoverished. When Nero came to Greece in AD 66, he took away over 500 of the best statues from Delphi to Rome. Barbarian raids during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and removal of statues and other riches by Constantine I caused it to decay. The Oracle continued until it was closed by emperor Theodosius I in AD 395.

In image is Tholos (located at the sanctuary of Athena Pronoia), a circular building that was constructed between 380 and 360 BC. Located approximately 800m from the main ruins, it consisted of 20 Doric columns, with 10 Corinthian columns in the interior. Vitruvius notes Theodorus of Samos as the architect of the Round Building which is at Delphi. Archaeological Site of Delphi was included on UNESCO World Heritage Site list on 1987.

About the stamps
The first three are part of the series Games of the old neighborhood, about which I wrote here.

The fourth is part of the series Greek Actors, issued on 22 November 2011. The actors are painted by Kostas I. Spyriounis, and adapted in stamps by Eleni Apostolou:
• Vassillis Diamantopoulos (0.01 EUR) - it's on other postcard
• Rena Vlachopoulou (0.05 EUR) - it's on this postcard
• Orestic Makris (0.50 EUR)
• Thanasis Veggos (0.60 EUR)
• Mary Aroni (2.47 EUR)
• Sapfo Notara (2.50 EUR)

The last one is part of the series Touring, designed by Myrsini Vardopoulou (original artwork: Yannis Skoulas, Katerina Kouzouni) and issued on June 25, 2012:
• Tzoumerka, Epirus (0.01 EUR) - it's on this postcard
• Evinos River, Central Greece (0.10 EUR) - it's on other postcard
• Samaria gorge, Crete (0.62 EUR)
• Acheron River, Epirus (0.78 EUR) - it's on other postcard
• Rodopi, Thrace (2.00 EUR)
• Xanthi, Thrace (2.50 EUR)

The postcard was sent on 12.12.2012.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday #156, hosted on Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy. Click on the button below to visit all the other participants.

Delphi - Wikipedia
Greek actors on stamps - Rainbow Stamp Club
Touring - Hellenic Philotelic Society

sender: Milda Kriukaite (direct swap)
sent from Piraeus (Greece), on 12.12.2012

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