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Religious Figure
    (circa 700 BC-393)
    Born in Delphi, Greece
    High priestess of Apollo at the temple of Delphi
    Delivered prophecies on the seventh day of the month
    Entered into a trance allegedly caused by vapors rising from the rotting body of a dragon killed by Apollo
    Modern research suggests the trance may have been caused by ethylene gas
    People seeking her advice drew lots to determine the order of admission, but a large donation to Apollo could secure one a place at the front of the line.
    The priests who transcribed her prophecies may have edited and interpreted them in the process.
    Her prophecies were usually ambiguous.
    For example, King Croesus of Lydia asked if he should go to war with Persia and was told he would 'destroy a great empire.' He attacked and lost, destroying a great empire -- his own.
    Her prophecies convinced the Athenians to fight the naval battle of Salamis, leading to the defeat of a Persian invasion.
    The Pythia was originally a beautiful young virgin; after one was abducted and raped by a supplicant, the Delphians only chose women over 50 for the position. (Sure, blame the victim.)
    When she delivered a prophecy to Nero that displeased the emperor, he had her buried alive.

Credit: C. Fishel

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