University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars > Spitting in your (monumental) face: political infighting at the centre of the ancient Greek world

Spitting in your (monumental) face: political infighting at the centre of the ancient Greek world

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In the ancient Greek world, the sanctuary site of Delphi was often spoken of as the mythical centre of the world. But a centre for what? Ancient literature speaks of a place in which individuals, cities and states could come together from across a fractured and conflictual Greek world and achieve a panhellenic unity. But is that the truth? In this talk, I examine the material evidence from the sanctuary which suggests a very different picture. Far from being a place of harmonious interaction, Delphi actively encouraged strong and vicious opposition and in-fighting amongst its visitors. They jostled for prime position in front of the god Apollo, the ruler of the sanctuary, and struggled to out-do one another in the lavish nature of their gifts to the god. The sanctuary was awash with gold, silver, marble and ivory, but it was precious material forged in the heat of monumental combat rather than philanthropic togetherness. The question now becomes – if not peace and goodwill to all men, what can Delphi teach us all today?

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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