Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Oracle of Delphi-Python included

This is a school project, may not be directly related to snakes.


What do you first think about when you hear the word "python"? Many think about the ball pythons that are abound at breeders and pet stores, while some might think of the reticulated pythons of Asia. But the original Python was a dragon, guarding the Oracle of Delphi. The dragon was killed by Apollo. But wait, how did the snake get there? So Zeus had a child with Leto. Hera was highly jealous at Zeus' interest in other women, so she sent Python to pursue Leto. But then Apollo chased the Python into the Oracle of Gaia (Mother Earth), and killed the snake with some arrows next to where the priestess stood. However, Python was still honored via funeral games.

The Priestess
Prophecies were delivered at the Oracle via a priestess. The priestess was in a trance-like state, possibly brought on by hallucinations from vapors, or potentially snake venom. As far as snake venom, the priestess may have been made immune to snake bites and then bitten by a venomous snake. The venom may have created hallucinations which became prophecy when translated. However, in my opinion, I do not think venom is likely because immunization to snake bites, especially in Ancient Greece, may have been notoriously difficult to do. I would say that hallucinations are more likely, due to vapors.

The word "Python" when referring to constrictors
Now let's talk about the word "python". One question about it is what does an Ancient Greek dragon have to do with a constricting snake? Now, think about what colonies Greece had. But wait a minute! None of the snakes native to the country of Greece are pythons! But think about Alexandria. It was in Egypt. There were pythons in Egypt! But how did we get from a dragon to a constricting snake? Let's look at Reticulated or Burmese Pythons. In ancient times, these very large serpents probably were identified with dragons. Now, Ancient Greek culture had spread across the globe so the existence of Python was probably known. Somebody probably thought about the serpentine dragon, and when trying to colonize Asia, saw a Reticulated Python. They thought it was a dragon and said it was Python. The name stuck to the constricting snakes. Later, herpetologists found that species related to these pythons could also be called "pythons". But because we haven't moved on from Ancient Greece, many people still identify the word "python" with very large constricting snakes. I am not sure about this, but it seems highly likely.

However, pythons can also mean very sweet snakes like Pinkie here, my pet Ball Python.

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