The oracle at Delphi was sacred to both Appollo and Dionysus. On the lintel were inscribed the fatal words, "Know Thyself." The traveler would make a donation, submit a written query, and receive from the Pythia her cryptic answer. Croesus, the wealthiest of men, fared ill, despite all the wealth he gave, for he failed to know himself well enough to interpret the words the oracle gave him in return.
The Pythia was knowledgeable in many areas: history, religion, geography, politics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. She uttered advice on where and how to build cities, which laws to incorporate, and which prayers to utter. Her predictions were often very shrewdly phrased, which caused many supplicants to misinterpret the advice. The most famous instance of this comes down to us through a Delphic prediction given to Croesus, king of Lydia. In 550 BCE, Croesus was preparing to invade the Persian Empire when he consulted the Oracle about his chances for victory. After sacrificing 300 head of cattle to Apollo, he had gold and silver melted down into 117 bricks, which were sent to Delphi, along with jewels, statues, and a gold bowl weighing a quarter of a ton. With these gifts, Croesus sent his question of whether he should attack Persia.
The Pythia answered that, if he crossed a river, "Croesus will destroy a great empire." Encouraged by this response, he invaded Persia, only to suffer a decisive defeat. The Persians invaded and then conquered Lydia and captured Croesus, who thereafter bitterly denounced the Oracle. He sent his iron chains to Delphi with the question, "Why did you lie to me?" The Pythia correctly answered that her prophecy had been fulfilled. Croesus had destroyed a great empire -- his own.
Worse yet no refund on those gold bricks. He lost his donation, his army, his empire, his freedom, and his delusions - perhaps it was a good deal after all? For in the end he knew himself for the fool he was. There is much we can learn from the Pythia in fleecing our clients to good purpose.
No tax write-offs either -- pure play.
Posted by: matrullo | February 28, 2008 at 08:17 PM
No tax write off, but then again he was the King and collected the taxes.
Posted by: phil | February 28, 2008 at 08:40 PM