DELPHOS OF DELPHI
Delphos of Delphi
Author: Eloise McKinney Johnson
The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 67, No. 3 (Autumn, 1982), pp. 279-282
“… historical accounts, myths, and legends, and some monuments of Delphi indicate that the oracle [of Apollo] was established there by Pharoahs of the Ethiopian Dynasty. This is the reason why the Greeks portrayed Delphos, the eponymous hero of Delphi, as a Negro…”
The Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece, is an important symbol of wisdom in Western literature. It is the most famous of the ancient oracles-sources of divine data. Western literature, however, seldom mentions this oracle’s origin among the black people of ancient Ethiopia and Egypt.
That world-famed Delphi is named for “a Negro” is a carefully shrouded secret. Mythology books in the English language tell us that Delphi means dolphin and that the area’s first settler arrived from Crete astride a dolphin’s back. These books, however, ignore Delphos and his Ethiopian origins. Even today, one may tour the hallowed grounds of Delphi and depart without learning of Delphos.
Delphi’s being named for Delphos is especially significant for scholars of African history. Delphi’s celebrated Oracle of Apollo was, in ancient times, the Western world’s international center for intellectual pursuits and political intrigues. It was, also, an exceedingly prosperous business. Sovereigns and scholars traveled long distances to consult the Oracle’s priestesses-for a fee. These priestesses, savvy ladies, cultivated clients by specializing in Delphic (ambiguous) pronouncements which one could inter- pret as one wished.
Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century, reports, for example, that Croesus, a wealthy king of Lydia, donated the following gifts to curry the Oracle’s favor:
Of every kind of appropriate animal he slaughtered three thousand; he burnt in a huge pile a number of precious objects-couches overlaid with gold or silver, golden cups, tunics, and other richly coloured garments-in the hope of binding the god more closely to his interests; and he issued a command that every Lydian was also to offer a sacrifice according to his means. After this ceremony he melted down an enormous quantity of gold into one hundred and seventeen ingots about eighteen inches long, nine inches wide, and three inches thick; four of the ingots were of refined gold weighing approximately a hundred and forty-two pounds each; the rest were alloyed and weighed about a hundred and fifteen pounds. He also caused the image of a lion to be made of refined gold, in weight some five hundred and seventy pounds.
Later, when King Croesus asked whether he should wage a war against the Persians, the Oracle replied: “A powerful empire will fall.” Croesus waged war and lost his own empire.
To appreciate Peter Tompkins’ quotation on the Ethiopian Delphos at the beginning of this article, we must consider the myth of Chronos (Saturn)-a god of the heavens- and his wife Rhea (Ops)-an Earth Mother goddess-early divinities at Delphi, mem- bers of the Titan race.
Chronos, whose name means “time,” devoured his children as soon as they were born. (Time consumes all things produced in time.) He believed a prophecy that one of the children would seize his throne; thus, he protected his power by devouring them at birth.
Rhea, aggrieved in losing her children, saved the last one by substituting a stone. This last child was the infant Zeus (Jupiter or Jove), later to become king of the Olympian race of gods.
While Chronos consumed the stone substitute, Rhea spirited the baby Zeus to the island of Crete. This substituted stone-or a facsimile of it-appears today in the museum at Delphi. The Greeks call it an omphalos or “navel,” and it designates Delphi the center of Greece.
The omphalos at Delphi is not original; for such a stone existed earlier in Egypt, where it served a similar geodetic purpose in designating the country’s center. Tomp- kins says: “The omphalos of Delphi was similar to the object which represented the god Amon of Thebes, the navel of Egypt.”
Both in Greece and in Egypt, the omphalos is an ovoidal stone, akin to a beehive in form and covered with a net called an agrenon. This net, according to Tompkins, symbolizes “what even today we call the net of meridians and parallels” and is still vital to all geodetic surveys.
The word Apollo means “stone”; and it may be more than a coincidence that the name Peter, so important to Christian worshippers, also means “stone” or “rock.”
Further evidence of Delphos’-the “dolphin man’s”-African roots resides in repli- cas of an oxyrhynchus (“sharp-snout”) fish resembling a dolphin, recently shown in conjunction with the Treasures of Tutankhamon Exhibition in the United States. These bronze, Ethiopian fish replicas date from 3,000 B.C. and have sun-disk crowns bearing the Uraeus or rearing cobra-major emblem of ancient Ethiopian and Egyptian royalty. Dr. Richard King, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, affirms the ethnic significance of the Uraeus, observing that it sits over the pineal gland that manufactures melanin, producer of black complexions.
Two cities in ancient history bear the name of “Thebes.” One is on the Nile River near Luxor in Egypt; the other is in Greece-probably deriving its name from Egyptian- Theban colonists. Herodotus states that Amon was the Egyptian name for Zeus at Thebes-on-the-Nile,”‘ but adds that the only two gods universally worshipped there were Osiris and Isis, who were the parents of a son, Horus. The Egyptians inherited Osiris, Isis, and Horus from the more ancient Ethiopians. Osiris is, indeed, the probable forerunner not only of Zeus in Greece but also of Buddha in India, Fuhi in China, Xaha in Japan, and Quetzalcoatl in Mexico-all of whom were black and had woolly hair.
An Ethiopian/Egyptian/Greek connection looms when we learn from noted Egyp- tologist E. A. Wallis Budge that: Osiris . . . took great pleasure in music and dancing. He, therefore, carried along with him a train of musicians, of whom nine were virgins, most excellent singers and expert in many other things (whom the Greeks called Muses) of whom Apollo (i.e., Horus) was the captain and was therefore the Leader of the Muses.
Our Ethiopian/Egyptian/Greek connection becomes clearer when Diodorus of Sicily (circa 80 B.C.-20 B.C.) informs us that-in the beginning, Egypt was not land but sea and gradually formed as silt from Ethiopia built up from deposits of the Nile River. Diodorus says, too, that Ethiopians colonized Egypt under the leadership of Osiris.
The Osiris’ observations by Diodorus and Budge denote a direct link between the ancient Ethiopians and the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. In other words, the early Ethiopians-whom Homer describes in his Iliad as being cherished by Zeus above all others-sailed down the Nile to colonize Egypt and continued to establish colonies in Crete, in Greece-and elsewhere. Osiris, Amon/Zeus-the father god-and Horus/ Apollo-the son/sun god-are the link. This is the reason why the founding Greeks portrayed Delphos, the eponymous hero of Delphi, as a Negro.