The Pythia, a virgin from the local village selected in ceremonies that established her as Apollo’s choice, sits atop the sacred tripod as the Delphic oracle. To the left is the omphalos, the most sacred object at Delphi, regarded as the center of the earth. A plinth on the right bears an inscription describing Apollo’s conquest of Delphi with the Cretans, who became his first priests.
The prophetess went to the tripod on the sacred seventh day of each month, the day of Apollo’s birth, nine months of the year, to await the god’s inspiration; her inspired utterances were later interpreted by a priest. The ancient Greeks considered the Delphic oracle — both Apollo’s divine prophecy and the prophetess through whom it was spoken — the final authority on almost any matter, whether religious, political, or social.
Camillo Miola merged academic and classical traditions to construct his view of the classical past. He filled the canvas with seemingly archaeologically accurate costume, architecture, and furnishings, and painted in a highly detailed style to create an ancient world that appears fully real.
(Text courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program, CC BY 4.0).