Erowid References Database
Hale JR, de Boer JZ, Chanton JP, Spiller HA.
“Questioning the Delphic oracle”.
Sci Am. 2003 Aug;289(2):66-73.
Tradition attributed the prophetic inspiration of the powerful oracle to geologic phenomena: a chasm in the earth, a vapor that rose from it, and a spring. Roughly a century ago scholars rejected this explanation when archaeologists digging at the site could find no chasm and detect no gases. The ancient testimony, however, is widespread, and it comes from a variety of sources: historians such as Pliny and Diodorus, philosophers such as Plato, the poets Aeschylus and Cicero, the geographer Strabo, the travel writer Pausanias, and even a priest of Apollo who served at Delphi, the famous essayist and biographer Plutarch.
The authors' research supports the idea that ethylene naturally ocurring underground could account for all the various descriptions of the pneuma at Delphi--its sweet odor and its variable effects on human subjects, including even the potential for death.
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