Pythoness or Pythia was the name of the priestess in the Oracle of Delphi who gave to mortals, amulets for the future on behalf of God Apollo. The sacred oracle of Delphi, or the temple of the god Apollo, was located on Mount Parnassos, surrounded by fir trees.
The first Pythia during the Tradition is the daughter of Apollo, Fimonoi, after whom many brought her name in honor. She was the first to invent the six-meter verse of oracles. They attributed to her the saying that was written on the Delphic username: “Know thyself”.
Pausanias mentions Daphne as the first Pythia of God.
Pythia was originally a young Virgo. His habit of being elected a young virgin was interrupted when Thessalos Echekratis, coming to consult the oracle, saw the virgin prophetess and, fascinated by her beauty, abducted her and raped her. The then inhabitants of Delphi, by law, forbade the use of virgins. The service was then assigned to women over the age of 50, who had to wear the clothes of a young girl, in memory of the old prophetess.
Before Pythia climbed to the tripod, she underwent a special preparation. It began with a three-day fast and on the day of the ceremony, it was bathed in the water of Castalia. She usually washed her feet and hands, and sometimes her whole body, drinking water from Cassiotida, the source to which Apollo had transmitted part of his enthusiastic power. Then he chewed bay leaves collected from Castalia and, as Lucian says, he invited Apollo not to be late to come and quickly submit the oracles. The presence of God was felt when the laurel of the door of the Sanctuary was first shaken and Adyton was shaken.
Throughout the preparation of Pythia for use, the incense burners of laurel and barley flour also belonged. According to Strabo, when Pythia felt the presence of God, then the Priests accompanied her in front of the tripod.
When Pythia was prepared by God, she already knew how to list all the grains of sand and count the vast expanses of the sea. Then he would recite words many times, shouting, which words were collected by the prophets and giving them the necessary sequence to say the oracle. At the end of this process, the prophets accompanied her again to her room where she remained for several days, so that she could replenish her strength “after the fatigue of the Divine enthusiasm,” says Lucanos.
Pythia’s attire was simple. She did not wear perfumes, myrrh and did not know female luxury. We did not use oil or frankincense. “It just burned laurel and barley flour was her only ornament.”