Priestess of Delphi (1891), as imagined by John Collier; the Pythia is inspired by pneuma rising from below as she sits on a tripodPythia was the priestess presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. There are more than 500 supposed Oracular statements which have survived from various sources referring to the oracle at Delphi. Many are anecdotal, and have survived as proverbs. Several are ambiguously phrased, apparently in order to show the oracle in a good light regardless of the outcome. Such prophesies were admired for their dexterity of phrasing. One such famous prediction was the answer to an unknown person who was inquiring as to whether it would be safe for him to join a military campaign; the answer was: “Go, return not die in war”, which can have two entirely opposite meanings, depending on where a missing comma is supposed to be - before or after the word “not”. Nevertheless the Oracle seems consistently to have advocated peaceful, not violent courses generally.

Priestess of Delphi (1891), as imagined by John Collier; the Pythia is inspired by pneuma rising from below as she sits on a tripod
Pythia was the priestess presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. There are more than 500 supposed Oracular statements which have survived from various sources referring to the oracle at Delphi. Many are anecdotal, and have survived as proverbs. Several are ambiguously phrased, apparently in order to show the oracle in a good light regardless of the outcome. Such prophesies were admired for their dexterity of phrasing. One such famous prediction was the answer to an unknown person who was inquiring as to whether it would be safe for him to join a military campaign; the answer was: “Go, return not die in war”, which can have two entirely opposite meanings, depending on where a missing comma is supposed to be - before or after the word “not”. Nevertheless the Oracle seems consistently to have advocated peaceful, not violent courses generally.