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Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle.Even in Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger and seen by Pausanias.
These games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia.After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Δελφίνιος Delphinios, "the Delphinian".The name Pythia remained as the title of the Delphic Oracle.Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one deity setting up a temple on the grave of another.Neither the range of objects nor the presence of prestigious dedications proves that Delphi was a focus of attention for a wide range of worshippers, but the large quantity of valuable goods, found in no other mainland sanctuary, encourages that view.
Apollo's sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four Panhellenic Games, precursors of the Modern Olympics.To atone the murder of Gaia's son, Apollo was forced to fly and spend eight years in menial service before he could return forgiven.A festival, the Septeria, was held every year, at which the whole story was represented: the slaying of the serpent, and the flight, atonement, and return of the god.Some sources say it is because Python had attempted to rape Leto while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis.This spring flowed toward the temple but disappeared beneath, creating a cleft which emitted chemical vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to reveal her prophecies.It is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in having had a phenomenal influence in the ancient world, as evidenced by the rich monuments built there by most of the important ancient Greek city-states, demonstrating their fundamental Hellenic unity.