East Gate of the Gods
Delos is located in the middle of an island complex whose colonists are basically Ionian, who at least since 700 B.C. organized common celebrations in Delos.
When it became famous as a religious center, it was claimed by many cities like Naxos and Paros, but it was the Athenians who took it under their protection circa in 540 B.C. removing all of the graves from the island.
In 426 B.C. it was forbidden to the Delians to die on the island.
In the 6th century B.C., with the final conquest of Eleusis, what was a religious theory started to be materialized with the removal of the graves from the island to the nearby island Rineia (image XIV); namely the creation of Life (Delos) in the east and Death (Necromanteion) in the west. Moreover during the Delian celebrations, the executions in Athens were postponed, as in the case of Socrates.
Births on the island were also forbidden; so the Delians lost their citizenship with the consent of the Spartans, who replied to the Delians, when they asked for their help, that Delos was not their homeland, since they could not die or be born there. Namely the island had to remain pure like Apollo (Sun).
If there was no reason for the alignment of the three sacred sites (Delos, Delphi and Necromanteion), they would logically have to be placed in different positions within Greece. Namely Delos does not correspond with a god of Rebirth like Apollo, who should have been born in a cave and in an area with rich vegetation, like the Minoan Zeus. Delos is a barren, water-less island, without any natural ports.
In fact the only cave in mount Kynthos (112,6 meters) is linked to a sanctuary of Heracles of the 3rd century B.C. (image XV). If it was not about a religious issue, the Delians would have been able to live on their island and practice religion like the residents of Eleusis. Finally there would be some kind of reaction from the other tribes, so there also must have existed a decision by the priesthood of Delphi, for the Athenians to undertake such an expensive project, but also of great strategical importance.
In 1100 B.C. when the Priesthood of Apollo took over the shrine of the chthonic gods in Delphi, the myth about the birth of the god naturally did not exist, which was to be desperately sought after by the clergy on the axis Necromateion – Delphi. However at a certain point in time the myth of the birth of Apollo was completed and Delos appeared as the birthplace of the god. On the other hand, the Odyssey and the Homeric hymn to Apollo, mention in circa 700 B.C. Delos as an Ionian center, where the Naxians had placed an Apollo of huge size. Therefore during this period there was great pressure by the clergy for the completion of the cult in accordance with the myth.
So in 540 B.C., the clergy of Delphi authorized Peisistartus to begin purging the island, removing the graves which were moved to the nearby island of Rineia. However what followed was the fall of tyranny and the Persian Wars, where the Persians respected Apollo and his island. In 478 B.C. Delos became a religious center under the supervision of Athens. So in 426 B.C. the second and more complete purging of the island from the graves took place and the religious Orphic template of worship was completed.
So then when we recall the chapters on Delphi and the Necromanteion and link them to the events of Delos, we will observe a uniform religious logic, according to the Orphic standard, where, despite the political disputes of the city-states, the religious program of Delphi continues to exist and to be structured with the Clergy serving as the connective tissue.
The barren island of Delos on its long side has an orientation from north to south. It is 5 km long and 1,3 km wide. Its highest point is Kynthos (112 m.) which was also the sacred mountain of the Delians in earlier times (image XV).
We already mentioned about Delos that Zeus, for the sake of the mother of Apollo, Leto, who found sanctuary there, fixed it forever on four pillars, and renamed it from Ortygia to Delos. The main sacred site of the god is found on the western side of the island, because it is from the west that its connection with Delphi and the Necromanteion can be achieved. Athens organized the “Delia” there every four years, during the month Mounichion (April-May), when the zodiac of Taurus appeared in the sky (image 5), which was associated with the constellation of Auriga, which was associated with the mythological Erichthonius or Erechtheus, the son of Polias Athena and Hephaestus. But also Taurus (Bull) symbolized Theseus who captured the bull of Marathon and sacrificed it in the temple of Apollo in Athens.
It was the time when Leto started having childbirth pains, which lasted for nine days and nine nights. All of the goddesses came to her aid, except for Hera and Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, who was prevented from doing so by the jealous Hera. Finally Iris convinced her by giving her some gift and thus Leto gave birth near the sacred lake (image XVI). Alongside Apollo she also brought Artemis into the world. In the end these two gods started having the advantage in the Greek Pantheon. They are a combination of Nature (Artemis) and its Rebirth (Apollo). That is why this festival was held during the time when even this barren land is changed by nature with wild flowers and low vegetation. For this reason Leto gives birth to her children near a circular lake, which is fueled by the gully Inopus, which springs from mount Kynthos, which became the mountain of Zeus, and after it flows fro 1.200 meters and fills the sacred lake, it spills to the bay of Scardana nearby.
She hugged the palm tree (Leto)
and supported the knees
on the tender meadow and the earth
and as He (Apollo) came into the light, all
as one the goddesses cheered.
In all of the archaeological sites we visited the scenes exceed the human imagination. The Ancients had the ability to transform even barren wastelands like Delos, into an unsurpassed theatrical show.
The character of Delos, pretty much like that of Dion, is cosmopolitan, because alongside the sanctuaries of the Greeks, foreign religions started entering the island, by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Jews, and even Samaritans. After all the Greeks as a commercial people could combine worship with trade without any problems. So, pretty much like in the case of Dion, as early as 166 B.C., districts of diverse racial origin started to form, without an urban design, contrary to Dion, due to the sudden commercial upgrade of the island, which in circa 90 B.C. had 30.000 inhabitants.
According then to everything we mentioned, Delos was the commercial, but also the religious gate of Greece. Further along the same axis (image XVIII), in Rhodes, there was the famous temple of the Sun, where Apollo started his route from on a quadriga. The gate of the gods was on this side, since the souls ascended after the death of the body, following the upwards path of the Sun, in correlation with the gate of mortals we mentioned in the Necromanteion, where the souls descend to be reincarnated, following the downward path of the Sun. So Delos was a “component” of an entire religious and commercial logic; it was through this gate that the export and import of new gods was carried out headed for the philosophical Athens, where the new ideas were being processed. The Church Fathers, like Basil of Caesarea (330-379 A.D.) will study in these schools to enrich their knowledge which will be used in the new worship of Christ.