Delphi - The Column of the Naxians and the Sphinx

31) The Column of the Naxians - the Sphinx

570. B.C.

In front of the Polygonal Wall, on a small rock, the votive offering of the Naxians was located: a column (10 m.) surmounted by a colossal Sphinx made of marble.

Today the Sphinx and some vertebrae from the column have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Delphi and are exhibited there. On the site we can see the base and some vertebrae from the column where the Sphinx stood. The total height of this impressive monument, was almost thirteen meters!

The Sphinx as exposed at the Museum of Delphi.

The Sphinx was dedicated from the inhabitants of the island of Naxos to the Sanctuary of Apollo around 570 B.C. On the round pedestal of the column is engraved an inscription: an honorary resolution of Delphi regarding the Naxians. Re-engraved later on 332 B.C., it mentions the privilege of Promanteia* in accordance with the inhabitants of Naxos by the Sanctuary of Apollo.


Delphi accorded the Naxians the right of Promanteia as before, at the time of archon Theolytos and Epigenes the Bouleutes

A Sphinx on a Attic red figure amphora. Attributed to the Achilles Painter, ca 450 – 440 B.C. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).

Bear in mind that the Sphinx was considered as a funerary monument in ancient times. This is not irrelevant in the case of the Sphinx of the Naxians: according to Greek mythology on the very same place the Tomb of Python and the sacred places of earlier cults of older deities, as Gaia (Earth) used to be situated.

Promanteia: was the privilege, bestowed upon cities or individuals by the Oracle of Delphi, to ask the Pythia in priority.

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The reconstruction map of Delphi, by the Archaeological Guide of Greece

Designed and produced for a convenient and handy use in site and at home, it will assist you to visualize the Sanctuary of Apollo, where theOracle of Delphi was, the Ancient Theater, the Stadion, the Gymnasion of Delphi and the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.

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