For ancient Greeks, Delphi was the center of the world: a site sacred to the god Apollo, where all Greeks united to worship. But at its heart was a dark, strange place: the mysterious sanctuary where the priestess of Apollo prophesied.
The priestess, called the Pythia, sat above a chasm in the earth, which belched forth fumes.
She breathed deeply – some believe that the fumes possessed hallucinogenic properties – and slipped into semi-consciousness.
Her prophecies were opaque, often frantic. This was the Oracle of Delphi: the Greeks’ most famous and most feared window into the will of the gods.
It lay in “a cavern hollowed down in the depths” of the hillside, as the historian Strabo reported, underneath the great Temple of Apollo.
Today, the ruins of the Temple sit on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.
It was destroyed by the Emperor Theodosius I, in 390 CE, in an attempt to eradicate the old pagan beliefs.
Few traces of the Oracle remain, but the site is still an eerie one: mist clings to the hills, and you can almost hear the ghosts of Croesus, Nero, and Alexander.
As a child, she was called Mnesarete (Greek for “virtue”), but because she was born with sallow skin, she was called Phryne (Greek for “toad”).
Still, Phryne became the most successful and sought-after courtesan in ancient Greece, commanding 100 times the going rate.
Supposedly, she was even the model for the sculpture called Aphrodite of Cnidus, one of the most famous works of Greek art.
Lust Rewards: Phryne became incredibly rich thanks to her liaisons with powerful men in Athens.
According to legend, she even offered to pay to rebuild the city walls of Thebes, which had been destroyed by Alexander the Great in 336 BC, but there was a condition: the new wall had to contain the inscription
“Destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the courtesan.” Her offer was declined.
Around 340 BC, Phryne was accused of affronting the gods by appearing nude during a religious ceremony.
At her trial, the orator Hyyperides -her defender and also one of her lovers- ripped open Phryne’s robe and exposed her to the court. Why?
He considered it a legitimate defense. She was, after all, the most beautiful woman in Athens, and someone that gorgeous must be on good terms with Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, no matter what codes of conduct she appeared to have broken.
Petros Koublis was born in 1981 and is based in both New York and Athens.
His relationship with photography started in 2000, after having dedicated some years in painting.
He studied photography in Athens and participated in a series of seminars on the history of photography, being mostly developing his style through a constant personal exploration.
His professional relationship with photography started in 2004.
His work has been presented in exhibitions, major Art & Design platforms, publications and magazines all over the world, like the British Journal of Photography, the Royal Photographic Society Journal, European Photography, Southern Weekly, Esquire Russia, Nakedbutsafe and others.