John William Godward - The Delphic Oracle
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
'The Delphic Oracle' by John William Godward
An oracle is variously defined as a shrine where divinely inspired pronouncements and prophecies are made, as the person chosen to speak such pronouncements, or as the pronouncement itself. In ancient Greece, the Delphic Oracle was the shrine founded by Apollo himself, and was the most highly revered Oracle of its time.
The chosen prophetess, depicted here in the 1899 painting by J. W. Godward, was known as the Pythia. The Pythia entered into trance-like states and spoke their prophecies in a 'language' similar to the unintelligible words uttered by those who speak in tongues. Priests were responsible for recording and interpreting the oracles.
John William Godward was a protégé of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema in the style of the Victorian Frederick Leighton. Godward's work was severely judged by art critics toward the end of his life as Picasso and the new wave of Modernism swept aside the ideals of 19th century art.