Have You Been to Delphi?

Tales of the Ancient Oracle for Modern Minds

By Roger Lipsey

Subjects: Religion
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791447826, 308 pages, January 2001
Hardcover : 9780791447819, 308 pages, January 2001

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Table of contents

A Word on the Endnotes

1. Introduction: A Bowl of Myths and Stories

2. A Code for Questioners

3. Challenging Men to Gentleness: Apollo

4. Unfolded Into Light Through a Woman: The Pythia

5. Socrates Impoverished and Enriched

6. Croesus, King of Lydia: A Tale from the Age of Belief

7. A Chapter of Tales

8. Tales Mostly of War

9. The Sybarites' Question: Tales of Wisdom and Wrongdoing

10. One Golden Celery Plant: A Delphic Audit

11. "Hasten, Teiresias, Believe!"

12. Know Thyself


Bibliographic Overview

A fascinating collection of tales and lore from the ancient Oracle at Delphi, this book provides both a collection of good stories and finds spiritual enlightenment weaved throughout these diverse offerings.


This book of tales of the ancient Oracle at Delphi, freshly interpreted from ancient literature, restores a lost wisdom tradition. This tradition is conveyed not through philosophical or religious exposition but through story, ranging from the grandeur of myth to charming anecdotes and dark riddles. At the Delphic temple of Apollo, for nearly a thousand years, a priestess in trance listened to the urgent inquiries of questioners from all parts of the ancient world and responded on behalf of the god. From this sacred conversation there resulted both a set of enduring values and a collection of tales that relate the encounter with the divine and its consequences in the lives of questioners. In addition to a generous selection of these wisdom tales, the book also contains chapters on the priestess and ancient concepts of trance mediumship; on the Delphic commandment, "Know thyself"; and on the still-surviving Chief State Oracle of Tibet, which offers a living parallel to the ancient Delphic oracle.

Roger Lipsey is the author of An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art; Daedalus: Studies in Honor of the Birth of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy; Coomaraswamy: Life and Writings; and editor of Coomaraswamy: Selected Papers.


"…a fascinating story of Delphi —the place, the oracle, and the philosophical and cultural hub, in a sense, of the ancient Greek (and Roman, to a lesser extent) world. The stories of the various inquiries and responses are very captivating, and those who are interested in the search for the meaning of life by means of inner inquiry: — 'Know thyself'—will find this book useful. " — Christian Wertenbaker, M. D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine

"A remarkable tour de force, this book signals an entirely new and fresh approach to Western intellectual history and its roots in ancient Greece. " — Jacob Needleman, author of Time and the Soul

"The role of prophecy and the human connection to divine revelation is always of importance. Seeking as we do a viable meeting with the transcendent, this text offers interpretations of the Delphic oracle well beyond mere legend or fanciful myth. …sensitive, witty, and perceptive. " — Richard G. Geldard, author of The Traveler's Key to Ancient Greece