KASTALIA (Castalia) was the Naiad-nymph of the prophetic springs of the oracle of Delphi in Phokis (central Greece).
Her waters were said to be drawn from either the Aitolian river Akheloos (Achelous) of the Phokian river Kephisos (Cephisus). They first emerged on the upper slopes of Mount Parnassos in the form of the spring Kassotis (Cassotis) before sinking into the ground to reappear as the spring Kastalia beside the seat of the Delphic oracle. The nature of these two springs--which were sewn together--explains the name, which was apparently derived from the Greek word kassuô meaning "to sew."
CASTA′LIA (Kastalia), the nymph of the Castalian spring at the foot of mount Parnassus. She was regarded as a daughter of Achelous (Paus. x. 8.§ 5), and was believed to have thrown herself into the well when pursued by Apollo. (Lutat. ad Stat. Theb. i. 697.) Others derived the name of the well from one Castalius, who was either a simple mortal, or a son of Apollo and father of Delphis, who came from Crete to Crissa, and there founded the worship of the Delphinian Apollo. (Ilgen, ad Hom. hymn. in Apoll. p. 341.) A third account makes Castalius a son of Delphus and father of Thyia. (Paus. vii. 18. § 6, x. 6. § 2.)
CASSO′TIS (Kassôtis), a Parnassian nymph, from whom was derived the name of the well Cassotis at Delphi, the water of which gave the priestess the power of prophecy. (Paus. x. 24. § 5.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Alcaeus, Fragment 307 (from Himerius, Orations) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) :
"Kastalia (Castalia) flows in poetic fashion with waters of silver, and Kephisos (Cephisus) [a river of Phokis and Boiotia] rises in flood surging with waves, in imitation of Homer's Enipeus: for Alkaios (Alcaeus) is compelled just like Homer to give even water the power to sense the presence of gods."
Alcaeus, Fragment 307 (from Strabo, Geography) :
"So in Alkaios (Alcaeus) the Kastalian (Castalian) spring at Delphoi with its prophetic water is called water of Tritaia [or joy of Tritaia]."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 8. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"You reach, on the right of the way [to the sanctuary of Delphoi] the water of Kastalia (Castalia), which is sweet to drink and pleasant to bathe in . . . Panyassis [epic poet C5th B.C.] who composed an epic poem on Herakles, says that Kastalia was a daughter of Akheloios (Achelous). For about Herakles he says :--‘Crossing with swift feet snowy Parnassos he reached the immortal water of Kastalia, daughter of Akheloios.’ I have heard another account, that the water was a gift to Kastalia from the river Kephisos (Cephisus). So Alkaios (Alcaeus) has it in his prelude to Apollon."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 24. 7 :
"You come to a spring called Kassotis (Cassotis) [near Delphoi]. By it is a wall of no great size, and the ascent to the spring is through the wall. It is said that the water of this Kassotis sinks under the ground, and inspires the women in the shrine of the god [i.e. where it emerges as the spring Kastalia]. She who gave her name to the spring is said to have been a Nymphe of Parnassos."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 4. 307 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The ridges of Parnassos quaked, when they heard the noise of their neighbour Phoibos (Phoebus) [the oracle of Apollon]; Kastalia (Castalia) marked it, and her inspired water bubbled in oracular rills."
- Greek Lyric I Alcaeus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C6th B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.