For centuries, people from all over Europe sought advice from the oracle on Mount Parnassus in Delphi, Greece. Wars, business deals and marriages were arranged on the basis of her predictions.
The source of the oracle's prophecies was the Temple of Apollo. Geologists now believe a narcotic gas seeping from the ground sent her into a stupor. Her drug-induced ravings were interpreted by priests and accepted as divine guidance.
The spirit of the oracle lives today. Tourists make the two-hour drive from Athens, then climb into the mountains to seek advice.
So it seemed fitting to ask the oracle the question that has bedeviled Greece in recent years: "Will the Athens Olympics be safe and successful?"
Alas, as has been the case the past 1,623 years, the oracle did not comment.
Caliope Lazaratou, a guide who has been leading tourists to Delphi for the past 30 years, said such silence does not discourage people from asking lots of questions -- often about their love life.
She tells them not to despair.
"The answer was written into the temple, carved into it: 'Know Thyself,' " says Lazaratou, who leads tours in English, French and Italian. "The answers to many of the questions we have can be found in that proverb.
"I tell my customers to go sit somewhere and think of what question you would ask the prophet, and then seek the answer inside yourself."
-- From News Services