Workshop 'Anchoring Innovation in Delphi'

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The sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi was one of the most important religious places in the Ancient Greek world. Its famous oracle impacted politics but also religious, philosophical and, more generally, cultural matters. While tradition was a powerful factor in shaping the sanctuary, it was also a hub for innovations of various sorts. With its religious and political weight, the sanctuary served – both as a physical space and as an institution – to legitimize new ideas, in effect anchoring innovations in a recognized system of values.

The purpose of this exploratory workshop is to reflect on how different types of innovations (architectural, cultural, iconographic, literary, philosophical, political) were anchored within the boundaries of the sanctuary and to pinpoint its role in promoting new ideas. Possible themes to be addressed during this workshop include:

  • interpretations of the Delphic maxims that constitute or lead to new ideas or moral expectations;
  • the inspiration of new political developments by, or their legitimization with reference to, utterances of the Delphic oracle;
  • features of the built environment that serve as behavioural cues for religious experiences;
  • the ways in which the Delphic priest(esse)s and buildings contribute to shaping new textual motifs or literary experiments.

Other themes in relation to the anchoring of innovations in Delphi (in the sanctuary of Apollo as well as in the one of Athena Pronaia) are also welcome.

We welcome proposals for talks of 20 minutes. Please send your proposal to both organisers by December 15th, 2021. Proposals must include a title and a few lines presenting your subject.

Organisers: Jean Vanden Broeck-Parant ( and Albert Joosse (