Geographical sites:

  • Delphi (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #540726)
    Pleiades_icon Delphi settlement Geocontext: Delphi, formerly Pytho
    Description: The ancient pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi in Greece, seat of the oracle of Apollo.


Text #3751

Diodorus Siculus. The Library of History. Vol. 7
[Diod. 16.36.7--16.36.8. Translated by C. H. Oldfather. Harvard University Press. 1935. (12 Vols.) p. 397]

Some of the historians say that the pillaged property was not less than the sums acquired by Alexander in the treasure chambers of the Persians. The generals on the staff of Phalaecus took steps even to dig up the temple, because someone said that there was a treasure chamber in it containing much gold and silver, and they zealously dug up the ground about the hearth and tripod. […]

But as the soldiers attempted to dig about the tripod, great earthquakes occurred and roused fear in the hearts of the Phocians, and since the gods clearly indicated in advance the punishment they would visit upon the temple-robbers, the soldiers desisted from their efforts. The leader of this sacrilege, the aforementioned Philon, was promptly punished as he deserved for his crime against the god.

Text #3752

Strabo. Geography. Series: Geography. Vol. 4
[Strab. 9.3.8. Translated by Horace Leonard Jones and John Robert Sitlington. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1967. (8 Vols.)]

Onomarchus and his army attempted to dig it1 up by night, but since great earthquakes took place they fled outside the temple and stopped their digging, and that their experience inspired all others with fear of making a similar attempt.

  1. The temple of Delphi. [nE]

Text #8682

Aelian. Historical Miscellany
[Bk. 6 Ch. 9 p. 237]

From the Homeric poems Delphi acquired a reputation for being the shrine of Apollo that enjoyed ancient wealth. These are the verse [Iliad 9.404-405]: “Not even all the possessions held inside the stone threshold of the Archer, of Phoebus Apollo, at rocky Pytho.” The story goes that the Delphians tried to dig up the area around the sacred hearth and tripod. But when powerful earthquakes shook the shrine they came to their senses and stopped.

Text #8681

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

During the Third Sacred war (357-346), a war between the forces of the Delphic Amphictyonic League, principally represented by Philip II of Macedon, and the Phocians, the Phocian generals Onomarchus and Phalaecus, and their financial administrator Philon, were alleged to have taken ten thousands talents from the Delphi sanctuary1. Diodorus records that towards the end of the war in 347-346, earthquakes terrified the looters who wanted to plunder the shrine. Strabo’s account of the episode is similar but he attributes it to the time when Onomarchus was general in 354-352.

Homolle2 thought he could identify archaeological evidence of the earthquake in the hurried rebuilding of the west side of the new temple of Delphi. He argued that this must be evidence of a second earthquake, the first having occurred in 373, in the history of the sanctuary3.

  1. Modern estimates put the figure at nearer to four to five thousand; even so the release of so much gold at once onto the monetary market may have been partially responsible for a change in the gold to silver ratio: Campbell B. Tritle L.A. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World, p. 210

  2. Homolle T., “Le temple de Delphes. Son histoire. Sa ruine”, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 20 (1),1896, p. 702-732

  3. Guidoboni, Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th century, p. 134

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