From ancient Oracle to modern search engines


The Tholos in Delphi, Greece. Credit: Tamara Semina /CC BY-SA 3.0

In ancient Greece, people relied heavily on oracles not only to predict the future, but also to reveal secret information and the answers to their deepest philosophical questions.

One of the most famous of all oracles was at Delphi, located in a huge sacred enclosure dedicated to the god Apollo. Legend and mythology say that Delphi takes its name from Delphyne, the serpent who lived there and was slain by the god Apollo. However, in other accounts the serpent was the male serpent (drakon) called the Python.

The mentally unstable Roman Emperor Nero tirelessly tried to learn the timing and circumstances of his death from the Oracle of Delphi.

The message he received was “Beware of the seventy-third year”, so the emperor continued in a false sense of security, until shortly after this omen he was killed by Galba. , who was 73 years old.

However, this is certainly not the only well-known question asked of the oracle. Lead tablets reveal that the brilliant Roman orator Cicero asked the common Google search question: “How to become famous.”

Unfortunately, when Roman Emperor Theodosius I came to power, the oracle was closed because it was associated with pagan cults and beliefs. However, it remains a great tourist attraction to this day, as people from all over the world travel to see the ruins of Delphi and the famous oracle of Delphi.

Not much has changed in human nature since the days of our ancient ancestors in many ways.

Nowadays, people are also trying to control the future, looking for quick answers to their questions, and expecting information on just about any topic to be instantaneous, like typing a question. in the Google search bar.

In reality, it is only slightly different to write questions on lead tablets and submit them to the Oracle of Delphi.

The modern technology we live with today is very reminiscent of the legend of the Oracle of Delphi as it reflects the basic human need to try to control or at least anticipate the future.

The striking message that the Oracle of Delphi revealed in ancient times to Croesus of Lydia and Chilon of Sparta is a message that can still be addressed to all humans today.

When they asked the oracle what was most important and the best thing to know, they both received the same answer from the oracle: you have to “know yourself”. Also attributed to Socrates, this phrase is inscribed on the stones of Delphi.

In other words, the oracle asked people to consider the expectations and abilities that they had on their own in order to better run their own lives in the future.

Things are not always as they appear at first and people rely heavily on others to solve their problems and change their situation for them, instead of looking inward to see how they can see the world differently. and play a different role in the grand scheme of things. .

It seems that the words of the wise Oracle of Delphi are as true today as they were in ancient times.


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