Take part in an ancient tradition, brought to life with artificial intelligence.
Free interactive experience
In ancient Greek history and myth, the Oracle of Delphi (or Pythia) was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo. Among many things, Apollo was the Greek god of prophecy and it was believed that as his high priestess, the Pythia was an instrument for his prophetic wisdom. People would travel from far and wide to have an audience with the renowned Oracle and seek her counsel on all manner of things. This custom is thought to have begun around the 8th Century BCE and continued in some form for almost twelve hundred years, until the 4th Century CE.
Now you can experience this ancient tradition for yourself, with the power of artificial intelligence. Are you ready to ask our 21st century Oracle your burning questions?
What is The Oracle?
The Oracle is an artificial intelligence experience which uses the ChatGPT machine learning model to respond to practically any question in the prophetic stylings of the Oracle of Delphi.
This computational clairvoyant draws upon ChatGPT's knowledge bank (including historical and mythological accounts of the Pythia) and a dash of tailored personality to emulate the ancient Oracle as if she'd been plucked out of the past, landed in the 21st Century, stuck in a fibreglass box, given the razor sharp wit of a sassy adolescent and made rhyming couplets her entire personality. (It's not a phase, mum!)
How do I ask The Oracle questions?
If ancient Greek mythology is anything to go by, the answer to every great question must be sought through an epic quest — so make a pilgrimage to the Hellenic Museum, locate The Oracle (just outside our front door) and scan the QR. She'll guide you from there.
The Oracle is free, active 7AM–11PM daily and located on the Museum forecourt. For directions and other visitor information, see Plan Your Visit.
Priestess of Delphi
John Collier, 1981
The Pythia of times past
While The Oracle is a humorous and lighthearted activation, its inspiration, the original Pythia, had a far more serious influence on the course of history.
In ancient Greece, on the rugged slopes of Mount Parnassus, was the sacred sanctuary of Delphi—a place where mortals sought communion with the divine. At the heart of this sanctuary was the Delphic Oracle, a revered priestess known for channelling the voice of Apollo, the ancient Greek god of prophecy.
The Oracle's utterances were perceived as sacred pronouncements, offering insights into the will of the gods. Leaders from city-states far and wide made pilgrimages to Delphi, seeking guidance on matters of war, governance and alliances. The Oracle's words were not merely advice but treated as binding, shaping political decisions with profound and long-ranging consequences.
Delphi became a symbolic meeting ground for Greeks, fostering a sense of unity as representatives from diverse city-states gathered to seek counsel. The Pythian Games, named after the Oracle and held in honour of Apollo, brought athletes and spectators together every four years just like the Olympic Games.
Beyond its political influence, the Delphic Oracle left an indelible mark on Western philosophy. The inscription "Know Thyself" at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo reminded visitors seeking the guidance of the Oracle that true wisdom begins with the self. The Oracle, as a conduit to the divine, emphasised the importance of introspection and self-knowledge as the foundation for a life well lived. This precept echoes through the annals of Western thought and has influenced many subsequent philosophical traditions.
Economically, Delphi thrived as a pilgrimage destination. The constant influx of seekers brought prosperity to the region, with offerings and dedications pouring in as expressions of gratitude for the Oracle's guidance.
Lycurgus Consulting the Pythia
Eugène Delacroix, 1835–1845
Putting the art in artificial intelligence
The Oracle experience has been developed for the Hellenic Museum by Melbourne collective Sandpit. The Hellenic Museum is committed to embracing emerging technologies to imagine the past in new ways and is thrilled to have commissioned this project, as AI has exciting potential for museums and their visitors to engage with history like never before.
This project has been supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, a partnership between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne.