Sunday, August 03, 2003

What a Great Gig!

For proof that reading the smaller, slightly hidden articles in your Sunday paper is much more fulfilling than anything on the front page see page twenty-one of today's Observer, 'Delphic oracle was ancient glue-sniffer':

She advised generals about invasions; told citizens about the fates of their investments; and even warned Oedipus about the dangers of murdering his father and marrying his mother.

Yet the oracle at Delphi was not blessed with prophetic vision, scientists have discovered. In fact, she was high on alcoholic vapours.

This is the conclusion of scientists - writing in this month's Scientific American - who have found that the oracle chamber was built over a geological fault from which seeped ethane and ethylene gases. As a result, the oracle, the temple maiden who uttered Delphi's prophecies, was probably in a permanent narcotic state.

In other words, the oracle's utterings, upon which so much of ancient Greek life depended, were not the words of Apollo, the god of prophecy, but the babblings of a drunk or glue-sniffer.

Readers of Nietzsche, of course, already knew this, as Dionysus can never be too far from Apollo.