Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Niki Kantzios, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.


Pythia, Oracle, Delphi, Kristeva, Abjection


Recent academic research has garnered considerable popular interest on the matter of whether the Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, was high. Current findings aim to prove that vapors emitted from beneath the tripod on which the Pythia prophesied were intoxicating, thereby causing her frenzied state and statements. Contemporary scientists’ intense interest in proving that the Pythia was not prophetic evokes the question of why the once widely accepted, now generally rejected, idea that a female body can serve as a vessel for the words of the immortal deity holds such significance for modern science. When this curiosity is considered in light of Julia Kristeva’s writings on abjection, numerous possibilities are made available. At its simplest, examining the abjection of the Pythia could explain why the voice of modern science is so interested in the words of these ancient women. At best, to consider an active process of abjection nearly three millennia in the making provides an opportunity to expand understandings and interpretations of both the Pythia and her role in the world, past and present, and the abject and its role in abjection beyond literature and theory.