Oracles of Sparta: Greek


Lycurges of Sparta was of a royal house and guardian regent for his nephew Labotas who was King, but too young to sit the throne without guidance. Few know that it was Lycurges who gave Sparta the strict laws which governed the city, as we know it. Before these he is said to have traveled to Delphi for an oracle, having entered and without speaking a word, the Pythoness is said to have exclaimed a loud: “Oh! Thou great Lycurges, that com’st to my beautiful dwelling, Dear to Jove, and to all who sit in the halls of Olympus, Whether to hail thee a god I know not, or only a mortal, But my hope is strong that a god thou wilt proves, Lycurges.” Some report that during this oracle the Pythoness delivered to Lycurges the system of laws which governed Sparta for centuries. 

Later on as Sparta began to grow and its population became numerous, they looked to expanding their domain, and Arcadia looked ripe, so they sent to Delphi to inquire how a war with the Arcadians would go. The reply came back as :Cravest thou Arcady? Bold is thy craving, I shall not content it, Many the men that in Arcady dwell, whose food is the acorn, They will never awe thee, It is not I that am niggard, I will give thee to dance in Tegea, with noisy foot fall And with measuring line mete out the glorious campaign 

Seeing this as a good omen, they left the rest of Arcadia a lone and marched upon the city of Tagae, but were defeated, bearing the worst in every engagement, they again sent to Delphi, asking what they should do to find victory. The reply came, find the bones of Orestes son of Agamemnon and return them to Sparta. Failure to find these, they again asking the oracle, where they would be found, and the Pythoness reply came as: “Level and smooth is the plain where Acadian Tegae standeth, There two winds are ever, by strong necessity, blowing, Counter stroke answers stroke, and evil lies upon evil, There all teeming Earth doth harbor the son of Atrides, Bring thou him to thy city, and then be Tagae’s master 

They continued to search, until a man named Lichas discovered it partly by his good luck and part by his wisdom. Traveling to Tegae he entered a workshop of a smith, and marveling at his work, the smith told him of having need for a well began to dig up the floor, and finding a burial under his shop. After viewing the bones he was sure this was these were Orestes remains. Putting the oracle together, he observed the smith had two bellows, these were the winds,  the hammer stroke against the anvil, were the counter stroke and stroke, and the iron being folded back on its self as the evil lies upon evil. Pressuring the smith to allow him to stay in the smith as a place of rest overnight, dug up the remains and returned them to Sparta, which became vicious over Tegae?

 REFERENCE: Various sources: CONTRIBUTOR: Callum McCormick


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