The E-inscription at the Omphalos of Delphi

Notes (1) to Zeus by Arthur Bernard oo! (1"#$)
%&r'(
• referring to:Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
The greatest fear of the Celts
he fears of the Celts !ust ha"e been co!#ensated for the greatest ho#e to #ro"ide the!sel"es $ith
strong #illars% $hich ha"e been found in all ci"ili&ations' he !ost sacred #lace on earth $as the
location of the central #illar in the central o!#halos'
Strabon and Arrian
(
both tell us that in the year ))* B'C' the Celts of the Adriatic% !en
of great stature and a haughty dis#osition% sent en"oys to sue for the friendshi# of
Ale+ander' he ,acedonian !onarch recei"ed the! in state and asked the! $hat they
dreaded !ost% e+#ecting the ob"ious ans$er - .ou'- o his chagrin they re#lied that they
had but one fear)lest the s!y should some day fall upon them *
#
Other statements of the fear for a falling sky
3
he national oath by $hich the Celts bound the!sel"es to the obser"ance of their co"enant $ith
Ale+ander is re!arkable' If $e obser"e not this engage!ent%/ they said% /may the s!y fall on us
and crush us% !ay the earth ga#e and s$allo$ us u#% !ay the sea burst out and o"er$hel! us'/
he 0lster heroes declare to their king% $ho $ished to lea"e the! in battle in order to !eet an
attack in another #art of the field /1ea"en is abo"e us% and earth beneath us% and the sea is round
about us' +nless the s!y shall fall $ith its sho$ers of stars on the ground $here $e are ca!#ed% or
unless the earth shall be rent by an earth2uake or unless the $a"es of the blue sea co!e o"er the
forests of the li"ing $orld% $e shall not gi"e ground'
3
/
( Ptole!y Soter recorded this in his history of the $ars of Ale+ander' Ptole!y% a friend% and #robably% indeed% half4
brother% of Ale+ander% $as doubtless #resent $hen this incident took #lace' 1is $ork has not sur"i"ed% but is 2uoted
by Arrian and other historians' he Celts said: /5e fear no !an : there is but one thing that $e fear% na!ely% that the
sky should fall on us6 but $e regard nothing so !uch as the friendshi# of a !an such as thou'/ Cha#ter I: he Celts
in Ancient 1istory
2 Page ** in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
) Cha#ter I: he Celts in Ancient 1istory
3 fro! the /7in Bo Cuailgne%/ in the Book of 8einster% 9he Book of 8einster is a !anuscri#t of the t$elfth century:
Pillars
;iana4#illars and their cousins Agyieús-pillars are co!#arable to our !odern ,ay4#oles% and
basically these are uni"erse4colu!ns% <ust as $ell as the Irminsüls.
,ay4#oles are kno$n to sy!boli&e fertility in co!bining the !ale and fe!ale co!#onents
*
'
he uni"erse4colu!ns resting in the flat earth4#late !ay therefore also be considered as !ale
res#ecti"ely fe!ale ele!ents'
he likeness of the ;el#hic Agyieús, thus reconstituted% to the =er!anic Irminsul is sufficiently striking' It
beco!es e"en !ore so% $hen $e note that the Irminsul described by 5idukind $as erected at the gate$ay of
the to$n $ith a #illar on either side of it'
he ;el#hic o!#halos often is associated $ith 2 eagles% $hich $ould refer to Zeus' If this is true% then the
A#ollo sanctuary had belonged to Zeus and the letter > !ay ha"e been assigned to Zeus as $ell'
his is another funda!ental a##roach'
?n the block are engra"ed four archaic letters% referable to the se"enth century B'C' (fig' (2@A% of $hich the
last three gi"e us in the geniti"e case the na!e of the earth4goddess ,a (or ,as% res#ecti"ely ,a-
.
A and
the first a##ears to be the !ystic sy!bol E'
If this is true% then the A#ollo sanctuary had belonged to Zeus and the letter > !ay ha"e been
assigned to Zeus as $ell' his is another funda!ental a##roach'
he > !ay ha"e been the central letter for Zyeus (ZeusA% $hich sy!boli&es the "ery link bet$een
• the leading (!aleBA letter y (yodA and
• the trailing (fe!aleBA letter u'
By the $ays: it also !ay be co!#arable to the letter 1 in .1V% or the letter A in IAC
* he !ay#ole itself is a #hallic sy!bol re#resenting the #lanting of the god-s #hallus into the !other earth-s $o!b%
there by illustrating the bringing forth of ne$ life' Source: he Maypole 4 ;ark ;orset
D Another de#iction is gi"en in Varieties of 0nreligious >+#erience: he E at ;el#hi
The Diana-pillars of Italy
7
;iana4#illars are co!#arable to our !odern ,ay4#oles:
E Page (3) in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
Fig. 1: Diana-pillar -
Painting from Herulaneum, no! in t"e #aples olletion $fig. %&'
Fig. (: Diana-pillar -
A freso still in t"e trilinium of t"e )House of *i+ia) on t"e Palatine $fig. %,'
Similar Pillars
Fig. -: Englis"
Maypole $1.// AD'
Fig. .: A sare0 olumn
$stam12a, I0i' of granite
$"eig"t 3(.3 ft'
faing a 4ain temple at
Mu0u1i0ery or
Mor1i0ry near
Mangalore $E. Moor
5"e Hin0u Pant"eon
*on0on 1%&1pi. ,, $ 6
my fig. /7',
Agyieús-pillars of Greece
8
he Agyie8s-pillar $as essentially a uni"erse4colu!n% and that Agyieus hi!self% ) =od of the 5ay
$agyia',) $as originally lord of the road fro! earth to hea"en'
he ter! agyia is actually used of the soul4#ath by Pindar6 and the transition fro! Agyie8s in this
hy#othetical sense to Agyie8s in its ordinary classical !eaning #resents no difficulty'
he -=od of the 5ay- $ould naturally beco!e the -=od of the StreetF es#ecially if G as $as the case
at arentu! and else$here G his #illar stood - before the doors - of the houses'
It a##ears% then% that the Irminsül of the north had a counter#art on both sides of the Adriatic% the
;iana4#illars of Italy being o$n cousins to the Agyieus-pillars of =reece'
But at this #oint a difficulty arises' 1o$ co!es it that the Italian #illars $ere associated $ith
a goddess% the =reek #illars $ith a god B he ans$er to this 2uestion is to be sought in the
belief that the uni"erse colu!n $as a central #ro#% originally a central tree% rising fro! earth
to sky' Such a #ro# $ould be connected #ri!arily $ith the earth in $hich it $as #lanted%
secondarily $ith the sky $hich it su##orted' It could therefore be attributed either to the
earth !other or to the sky4father% according as the $orshi# of the goddess or the god
#re"ailed'
5' 1' Roscher in a recent !onogra#h has sho$n that the =reeks% like !any other #eo#les%
concei"ed of the earth as a flat disk $ith a central #oint called its omp"alos or -na"el%- and further
that $ithin the li!its of =reece a "ariety of to$ns clai!ed to #ossess this all4i!#ortant center'
1e !akes out a case not only for ;el#hoi% but also for other A#olline seatsGBranchidai% ;elos%
=ryneion% Patara% etc' A!ong #ossible clai!ants he includes By&antion% but $ithout #ro"ing the
e+istence of a By&antine omp"alos. Co##ers of this to$n struck in the third or second century B'C'
ha"e so!eti!es as ob"erse ty#e a laureate head of A#ollon and as re"erse an Agyie8s-pillar set on
the to# of an omp"alos, $hich is co"ered $ith its net4$ork or agrenon. he By&antine #illar is of
interest% because it e+hibits the omp"alos, earth-s centre% in co!bination $ith the Agyie8s, hea"en-s
#ro#' he occurrence of an o!#halos4and4#illar at By&antion leads us to reconsider the sha#e of the
omp"alos at ;el#hoi' 1ere% if any$here% $as the centre of the earth' 1ere% if any$here% the sky
$ould need a su##orting colu!n% an Agyie8s-pillar..
H 4I the o!#halos at ;el#hoi% like the o!#halos at By&antion% $as originally to##ed by an
Agyie8s4#illar'
J Page (DD in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
The E-inscription at the Omphalos of Delphi
he real o!#halos had been #ositioned in a structure like fig' ):
;el#hic building4accounts of the year )3)G)32 B'C' and a little later #ro"e that the omp"alos had a #orch in
front of it and $as #rotected by carefully surfaced $alls su##orting a roofGcircu!stances $hich suggest
that% like the omp"alos at Argos% it stood in a s!all cha#el of its o$n'
Inscription of letters at the Omphalos of Delphi
!
" fo#n$ %y &' Co#r%y
?n the block are engra"ed four archaic letters% referable to the se"enth century B'C' (fig' (2@A% of $hich the
last three gi"e us in the geniti"e case the na!e of the earth4goddess ,a (or ,as% res#ecti"ely ,a-
1/
A and
the first a##ears to be the !ystic sy!bol E'
((
K Page (ED in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
(@ Another de#iction is gi"en in Varieties of 0nreligious >+#erience: he E at ;el#hi
(( he ,eaning of the > at ;el#hi
Fig. 3: A re0-figure0 amp"ora 0epits t"e
mur0er of #eoptolemos at Delp"oi -
9restas, s!or0 in "an0, approa"es "im
stealt"ily from 1e"in0 t"e omp"alos
Fig. &: Insription :E of ;aia: at t"e omp"alos in Delp"i
;etails fro! a #hotogra#h at #age (E3 in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
The E on coins
()
(2 Page (EE in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
Fig. %: faa0e of t"e temple !it" E in t"e enter of it
Fig. ,: Insription of t"e <E=, <;= > <A= in :E of ;aia: at t"e omp"alos in Delp"i
Coppers of Delphoi str#c* %y +a$rian an$ %y &a#stina Senior
In the te!#le at ;el#hoi "isitors $ere sho$n three symbols rese!bling the letter E G a $ooden
original said to ha"e been #ut u# by the sages% a bron&e co#y of it #resented by the Athenians% and a
golden replia dedicated by the e!#ress 8i"ia (Plout' de E apud DelphosA'
Co##ers of ;el#hoi struck by 1adrian and by Laustina Senior re#resent the faa0e of the te!#le
$ith > in the centre of it (I!hoof4Blu!er and P' =ardner #um. Comm. Paus. iii' ((K #i' +% 2) M !y
fig' (2( and #i' +% 22 M !y fig' (22% N' O' S"oronos in the ?ull. Corr. Hell. (JKD ++' )D #i' 2E% (2
and 3D #i' 2K% (E f'% 1ead Hist. num.@ #' )32A'
E,planations of the E
Atte!#ts to e+#lain the sy!bol ha"e been nu!erous' Plout' 0e > apu0 Delp"os ) takes > as
ire+5e, the fi"e sages Chilon% hales% Solon% Bias% Pittakos6 i0. i1. 3 e2uates the second
"o$el > $ith the second #lanetary body% the sun6 i0. i1. * $rites > as et% -if%- -if only%- a $ord
that !ight introduce a 2uestion or a #rayer addressed to the god6 i0, i1. & treats > or el as a
sy!bol of dialectic6 i0. i1. EG(D gi"es a Pythagorean dis2uisition on >% that is reVre% as
the nu!erical base resulting fro! the union of the first e"en 0tio $ith the first odd rpiaA i0.
i1. (EG2( concludes that > is for el% - thou art%- as a !eta#hysical in"ocation of the deity'
.ears ago I "entured the suggestion (5' 1' ;' Rouse ;ree2 Boti+e 9fferings Ca!4 LigP 2I
bridge (K@2 #' )*3 n' n% Fol2-*ore (K@) +i"' 2JE f'A that the > $as a sacred relic% in fact the
head of Poseidon-s trident ke#t in the sanctuary% $here he had an altar (Paus' (@' 23' 3A and
#robably a cha#el (see 1' Po!to$ in P"ilologus (K(2 I++i' 3* ff'A% !uch as the trident of
Oe#tune is ke#t affi+ed to the $all of the ancient church of S' Vigil in ridentu!% the
!odern 5rento, 5rent (8' Sch!it& in S!ith Diet. ;eogr. ii' (2)@A6 and it $ill be ad!itted that
the trident4head% $hich sy!bolises Poseidon on coins of Corinth% 8eukas% ,antineia%
roi&en% etc'% is of the re2uisite sha#eG indeed Agathon 5elep"os frag. 3 Oauck2 ap. Athen'
3*3 ; describes the letter > as rpio0o+s ErQdEios% -a trident laid cross$ise'- ,y friend ,r A'
1' S!ith once told !e that in his o#inion the !ystic > !ight #ossibly be e+#lained by the
rese!blance that it bears to the II4sha#ed $indo$ or s!oke4hole o"er the door of hut4urns
fro! >truria etc' $Fol2-*ore (K@) +i"' 2JJA' ,iss N' >' 1arrison $i1. (K@3 +"' 3(D n' 2E(A has
acutely co!#ared the ;el#hic > $ith the trinity of #illars re#resented e.g. on Phoenician
reliefs fro! Sardinia (=' Patroni in the Man. 0. *ine. (K@3 +i"' 2)@f' #i' 2(% 2a and #i' 2*% 2A
and suggested - that the > $as originally three betyl stones or #illars #laced on a basis and
re#resenting the three Charites-'''.
-e#s instea$ of Apollon
he likeness of the ;el#hic Agyie8s% thus reconstituted% to the =er!anic Ir!insul is sufficiently
striking' It beco!es e"en !ore so% $hen $e note that the Ir!insul described by 5idukind $as
erected at the gate$ay of the to$n $ith a #illar on either side of it and an eagle set u#on it'
he !ention of the eagle brings us u# against another long4standing #u&&le' 5hat are $e to !ake of
the eagles on the o!#halos B Can they too be e+#lained in the light of this #illar connecting earth
$ith hea"enB
he ;el#hic eagles a##ear in classical literature fro! the fifth century B'C' ?n$ards' Pindar% our
earliest source% $riting in 3D2 B'C' s#eaks of the Pythian #riestess -$ho sitteth beside the golden
eagles of Zeus%- and an old =reek co!!entator on the #assage tells the orthodo+ tale:
-A story is bruited abroad to the effect that Zeus% $anting to deter!ine the center of the
$orld% let fly eagles of e2ual s#eed fro! $est and east' hey% $inging their $ay in o##osite
directions% !et' at Pytho and by that "ery fact !arked the central #oint of the $hole $orld'
8ater% in token of $hat had befallen% he !ade other eagles of gold and set the! ti# in the
#recinct of the god-
()
'
he author Arthur Bernard Cook concludes:
R SIt looks as though A#ollon had ste##ed into the #lace of Zeus and inherited his local
title'T
(3
If this is true% then the A#ollo sanctuary had belonged to Zeus and the letter > !ay ha"e been
assigned to Zeus as $ell' his is another funda!ental a##roach'
he > !ay ha"e been the central letter for Zyeus (ZeusA% $hich sy!boli&es the "ery link bet$een
• the leading (!aleBA letter y (yodA and
• the trailing (fe!aleBA letter u'
By the $ays: it also !ay be co!#arable to the letter 1 in .1V% or the letter A in IAC
() Page (EK in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
(3 Page (J@ in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
Omphalos .ith t.o Eagles
(/
he e"idence of literature !ay be su##le!ented by that of art' An electru! stater of Uy&ikos%
struck . 3*@43@@ B'C'% sho$s t$o eagles% beak to beak% #erched a$k$ardly enough on the sides of
a filleted omp"alos (fig' (2)A'
his coin #resu!ably de#icts the fa!ous omp"alos at ;el#hoi% not G as 5' 1' Roscher $ould
!ake out G a counter#art of it at Branchidai'
(* Page (J@ in Zeus a Study in Ancient Religion Vol 2 Part I (1"#$) by Arthur Bernard Cook
Omphalos set on a plinth" s#pporting t.o eagles
Fig. /: A +oti+e relief in mar1le, foun0 at Cparta 1ut learly Atti in style,
pro1a1ly ar+e0 in t"e last Duarter of t"e fift" entury ?.C. $fig. 1(.'
Arte!is $ith a pro"oos filling the p"iale of A#ollon : bet$een the! is seen a #lain omp"alos set on a #linth%
$hich su##orts t$o eagles $ith re"erted heads (fig' (23% #age (J(A
Inho#$
he greatest fear of the Celts''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''(
he ;iana4#illars of Italy'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''2
Si!ilar Pillars'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''3
AgyieVs4#illars of =reece'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''*
he >4inscri#tion at the ?!#halos of ;el#hi'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''D
Inscri#tion of 3 letters at the ?!#halos of ;el#hi% found by L' Courby'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''D
he > on coins''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''E
Co##ers of ;el#hoi struck by 1adrian and by Laustina Senior'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''J
>+#lanations of the >''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''J
Zeus instead of A#ollon''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''K
?!#halos $ith t$o >agles'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''(@
?!#halos set on a #linth% su##orting t$o eagles'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''((

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