APOLLON CULT 3
APOLLON was the Olympian god of prophecy, oracles, music, poetry, youth, healing, and protection from plague and harm.
This page describes his cult in the north-western Peloponnese and central Greece. His most celebrated shrines in the region were the Ismenian temple of Thebes and the great oracle at Delphoi in Phokis--the undisputed centre of his cult in the Greek world.
The statues presented on this page portray Apollon as the boyish god-protector of the young.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
CULT IN ACHAEA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. PATRAE (PATRAI) Main Town of Achaea (Akhaia)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 20. 3 - 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Beyond the Olympion [temple of Zeus in the market-place of Patrai, Akhaia] is . . . a sanctuary of Apollon. The god is of bronze, and naked. On his feet are sandals, and one foot stands upon the skull of an ox. That Apollon takes great pleasure in oxen is shown by Alkaios in his hymn to Hermes, who writes how Hermes stole cows of Apollon, and even before Alkaios was born Homeros made Apollon tend cows of Laomedon for a wage. In the Iliad he puts these verses in the mouth of Poseidon:--‘Verily I built a wall for the Trojans about their city, a wide wall and very beautiful, that the city might be impregnable; and thou, Phoibos, didst tend the shambling cows with crumpled horns.’ This, it may be conjectured, is the reason for the ox skull."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 20. 6 :
"Next to the market-place [of Patrai] is the Oideion (Music Hall), where has been dedicated a [statue of] Apollo well worth seeing . . . The Oideion is in every way the finest in Greece, except, of course, the one at Athens. This is unrivalled in size and magnificence, and was built by Herodes, an Athenian,in memory of his dead wife."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 20. 7 :
"As you leave the market-place of Patrai [in Akhaia], where the sanctuary of Apollon is, at this exit is a gate, upon which stand gilt statues, [of the heroes] Patreos, Preugenes, and Atherion."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 21. 11 :
"[In Patrai, Akhaia] they have also a grove by the sea, affording in summer weather very agreeable walks and a pleasant means generally of passing the time. In this grove are also two temples of divinities, one of Apollon, the other of Aphrodite. The images of these too are made of stone."
II. AEGIUM (AIGION) Town in Achaea
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 24. 1 :
"By the market-place at Aigion [in Akhaia] is a temple shared by Apollon and Artemis in common."
III. AEGEIRA (AIGEIRA) Town in Achaea
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 26. 6 :
"There is also [at Aigeira, Akhaia] a sanctuary of Apollon; the sanctuary itself, with the sculptures on the pediments, are very old; the wooden image of the god also is old, the figure being nude and of colossal size. None of the inhabitants could give the name of the artist, but anyone who has already seen the Herakles at Sicyon would be led to conjecture that the Apollon in Aigeira was also a work of the same artist, Laphaes the Phliasian There are in a temple standing images of Asklepios."
IV. PELLENE Village in Achaea
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 27. 4 :
"There is also at Pellene [in Akhaia] a sanctuary of Apollo Theoxenios (the Strangers' God), and the image is made of bronze. They hold in honor of Apollon games that they call Theoxenia, with money as the prizes of victory, the competitors being the natives."
CULT IN ARCADIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. MEGALOPOLIS Main City of Arcadia (Arkadia)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 30. 3 - 4 :
"There is before this enclosure [of Zeus Lykaios in Megalopolis, Arkadia] a bronze image of Apollon worth seeing, in height twelve feet, brought from Phigalia [in Arkadia] as a contribution to the adornment of Megalopolis. The place where the image was originally set up by the Phigalians is named Bassai. The surname of the god has followed him from Phigalia, but why he received the name of Epikourios (Helper) will be set forth in my account of Phigalia."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 31. 5 :
"Before the entrance [of the sanctuary of Aphrodite in Megalopolis, Arkadia] are old wooden images of Hera, Apollon and the Mousai (Muses), brought, it is said, from Trapezos [in Arkadia]."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 31. 7 :
"Within the enclosure of the [Megalai Theai] goddesses [at Megalopolis, Arkadia] are the following images, which all have a square shape : Hermes, surnamed Agetor, Apollon, Athena, Poseidon, Helios . . . and Herakles."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 32. 2 :
"The sanctuary [at Megalopolis, Arkadia] built in common for the Mousai (Muses), Apollon and Hermes had for me to record only a few foundations, but there was still one of the Mousai, with an image of Apollon after the style of the square Hermai."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 32. 4 - 5 :
"Here [in Megalopolis, Arkadia] there is a sanctuary of Asklepios, with images of the god and of Hygeia, and a little lower down there are gods, also of square shape, surnamed Ergatai (Workers), Athena Ergane (Worker) and Apollon Agyieus (God of Streets) . . . Under a hill there is another sanctuary of Boy Asklepios. His image is upright and about a cubit in height, that of Apollon is seated on a throne and is not less than six feet high."
II. PHENEUS (PHENEOS) Town in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 15. 5 :
"As you go from Pheneos [in Arkadia] to Pellene and Aigeira, an Akhaian city, after about fifteen stades you come to a temple of Apollon Pythios. I found there only its ruins, which include a large altar of white marble. Here even now the Pheneatians still sacrifice to Apollon and Artemis, and they say that the sanctuary was made by Herakles after capturing Elis. Here also are tombs of heroes, those who joined the campaign of Herakles against Elis and lost their lives in the fighting."
III. THELPUSIA (THELPOUSIA) Village in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 25. 4 & 11 :
"Onkios was, according to tradition, a son of Apollon, and held sway in Thelpousian territory [in Arkadia] around the place Onkeion . . . Leaving on the left the sanctuary of [Demeter] the Erinys [in Onkeion], passes on the left the temple of Apollon Onkaiatos."
IV. AEGYTUS (AIGYTOS) Village in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 34. 5 :
"The source of the [river] Karnion is in Aigytian territory [in Arkadia] beneath the sanctuary of Apollo Kereatas."
V. ACACESIUM (AKAKESION) Village in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 37. 12 :
"There are also wooden images of Apollon and of Athena [in the sanctuary of Pan, near Akakesion, Arkadia]."
VI. MT. LYCAEUS (LYKAIOS) Mountain in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 38. 2 & 8 :
"There is a place on Mount Lykaios [in Arkadia] called Kretea, on the left of the grove of Apollon surnamed Parrhasios (of the Parrhasia region of Arkadia) . . .
On the east side of the mountain there is a sanctuary of Apollon surnamed Parrhasia. They also give him the name Pythios. They hold every year a festival in honor of the god and sacrifice in the market-place [of Lykosoura] a boar to Apollon Epikouros (Helper), and after the sacrifice here they at once carry the victim to the sanctuary of Apollon Parrhasios in procession to the music of the flute; cutting out the thigh-bones they burn them, and also consume the meat of the victim on the spot. This it is their custom to do."
VII. MT. COTILUS (KOTILOS) Mountain in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 41. 7 - 9 :
"Phigalia is surrounded by mountains, on the left by the mountain called Kotilios . . . The distance from the city to Mount Kotilios is about forty stades. On the mountain is a place called Bassai, and the temple of Apollon Epikourios (the Helper), which, including the roof, is of stone. Of the temples in the Peloponnesos, this might be placed first after the one at Tegea for the beauty of its stone and for its symmetry. Apollon received his name from the help he gave in time of plague, just as the Athenians gave him the name of Alexikakos (Averter of Evil) for turning the plague away from them. It was at the time of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians that he also saved the Phigalians, and at no other time; the evidence is that of the two surnames of Apollon, which have practically the same meaning, and also the fact that Iktinos, the architect of the temple at Phigalia, was a contemporary of Perikles, and built for the Athenians what is called the Parthenon. My narrative has already said that the tile image of Apollon is in the market-place of Megalopolis."
VIII. TEGEA Town in Arcadia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 53. 1 - 6 :
"The images of Apollo Agyieus (Lord of Streets) the Tegeans [of Tegea, Arkadia] say they set up for the following reason. Apollon and Artemis, they say, throughout every land visited with punishment all the men of that time who, when Leto was with child and in the course of her wanderings, took no heed of her when she came to their land. So when the divinities came to the land of Tegea, Skephros, they say, the son of Tegeates, came to Apollon and had a private conversation with him. And Leimon, who also was a son of Tegeates, suspecting that the conversation of Skephros contained a charge against him, rushed on his brother and killed him. Immediate punishment for the murder overtook Leimon, for he was shot by Artemis. At the time Tegeates and Maira sacrificed to Apollon and Artemis, but afterwards a severe famine fell on the land, and an oracle of Delphoi ordered a mourning for Skephros. At the Heorte Agyieus (feast of the Lord of Streets )rites are performed in honor of Skephros, and in particular the priestess of Artemis pursues a man, pretending she is Artemis herself pursuing Leimon . . .
At Tegea the images of [Apollon] Agyieus (Lord of Streets) are four in number, one set up by each of the tribes. The names given to the tribes are Klareotis, Hippothoitis, Apolloniatis, and Athaneatis; they are called after the lots cast by Arkas to divide the land among his sons."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 53. 6 - 7 :
"[Among the temples of Tegea, Arkadia there is] a temple of Apollon with a gilded image. The artist was Kheirisophos; he was a Kretan by race, but his date and teacher we do not know. The residence of Daidalos with Minos at Knossos secured for the Kretans a reputation for the making of wooden images also, which lasted for a long period. By the Apollon stands Kheirisophos in stone."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 54. 5 :
"The road from Tegea [in Arkadia] to Argos is very well suited for carriages, in fact a first-rate highway. On the road . . . turning aside to the left for about a stade, you see a dilapidated sanctuary of Apollon surnamed Pythios which is utterly in ruins."
CULT IN BOEOTIA (CENTRAL GREECE)
I. THEBES Main City of Boeotia (Boiotia)
Herodotus, Histories 1. 51 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"To Amphiaraus, of whose courage and fate he [the historic Lydian king Kroisos] had heard, he dedicated a shield made entirely of gold and a spear all of solid gold, point and shaft alike. Both of these were until my time at Thebes, in the Theban temple of Apollon Ismenios."
Herodotus, Histories 1. 92 :
"There are many offerings of [the historic Lydian king] Kroisos in Hellas . . . There is a golden tripod at Thebes in Boiotia, which he dedicated to Apollon Ismenios."
Herodotus, Histories 5. 59. 6 :
"I have myself seen Kadmean writing in the temple of Apollon Ismenios at Thebes of Boeotia engraved on certain tripods and for the most part looking like Ionian letters. On one of the tripods there is this inscription : ‘Amphitryon dedicated me from the spoils of Teleboai.' This would date from about the time of [the mythical Theban king] Laios the son of Labdakos, grandson of Polydoros and great-grandson of Kadmos.
A second tripod says, in hexameter verse : ‘Skaios the boxer, victorious in the contest, gave me to Apollon, the archer god, a lovely offering.’ Skaios the son of Hippokoon, if he is indeed the dedicator and not another of the same name, would have lived at the time of Oidipos son of Laios.
The third tripod says, in hexameter verse again : ‘Laodamas, while he reigned, dedicated this cauldron to Apollon, the sure of aim, as a lovely offering.’"
Strabo, Geography 13. 1. 64 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Among the Aiolians in Asia a certain month is called Pornopion, since the Boiotians so call the locusts, and a sacrifice is offered to Apollon Pornopion (of the Locusts)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 10. 2 - 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"On the right of the [Elektran] gate [of Thebes, Boiotia] is a hill sacred to Apollon. Both the hill and the god are called Ismenios, as the river Ismenos flows by the place. First at the entrance are Athena and Hermes, stone figures and named Pronai (of the Fore-Temple). The Hermes is said to have been made by Pheidias, the Athena by Skopas. The temple is built behind. The image is in size equal to that at Brankhidai [near Miletos, in Asia Minor]; and does not differ from it at all in shape. Whoever has seen one of these two images, and learnt who was the artist, does not need much skill to discern, when he looks at the other, that it is a work of Kanakhos. The only difference is that the image at Brankhidai is of bronze, while the Ismenios is of cedar-wood. Here there is a stone, on which, they say, used to sit Manto [the Theban Sibylla], the daughter of Teiresias. This stone lies before the entrance, and they still call it Manto's chair. On the right of the temple are statues of women made of stone, said to be portraits of Heniokhe and Pyrrha, daughters of Kreon, who reigned as guardian of Laodamas, the son of Eteokles. The following custom is, to my knowledge, still carried out in Thebes. A boy of noble family, who is himself both handsome and strong, is chosen priest of Apollon Ismenios for a year. He is called Daphnaphoros (Laurel-bearer), for the boys wear wreaths of laurel leaves. I cannot say for certain whether all alike who have worn the laurel dedicate by custom a bronze tripod to the god; but I do not think that it is the rule for all, because I did not see many votive tripods there. But the wealthier of the boys do certainly dedicate them. Most remarkable both for its age and for the fame of him who dedicated it is a tripod dedicated by Amphitryon for Herakles after he had worn the laurel . . .
Higher up than the sanctuary of Ismenios you may see the fountain which they say is sacred to Ares . . . By this fountain is the grave of Kaanthos. They say that he was brother to Melia and son to Okeanos, and that he was commissioned by his father to seek his sister, who had been carried away. Finding that Apollon had Melia, and being unable to get her from him, he dared to set fire to the precinct of Apollon that is now called the sanctuary of Ismenios. The god, according to the Thebans, shot him. Here then is the tomb of Kaanthos. They say that Apollon had sons by Melia, to wit, Teneros and Ismenos. To Teneros Apollo gave the art of divination, and from Ismenos the river got its name. Not that the river was nameless before, if indeed it was called Ladon before Ismenos was born to Apollon."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 11. 7 - 12. 1 :
"Beyond the Chastiser stone [of Thebes, Boiotia] is an altar of Apollon surnamed Spodios (God of Ashes); it is made out of the ashes of the victims. The customary mode of divination here is from voices (Kledones), which is used by the Smyrnaians, to my knowledge, more than by any other Greeks . . . The Thebans in ancient days used to sacrifice bulls to Apollon Spodios (of the Ashes). Once when the festival was being held, the hour of the sacrifice was near but those sent to fetch the bull had not arrived. And so, as a wagon happened to be near by, they sacrificed to the god one of the oxen, and ever since it has been the custom to sacrifice working oxen."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 17. 2 :
"Near it [the temple of Artemis Eukleia in Thebes, Boiotia] is [a statue or sanctuary of] Apollon surnamed Boedromios (Rescuer) . . . The pyre of the children of Amphion [slain by Apollon and Artemis] is about half a stade from their graves."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 10. 5 :
"The Sikyonian Kanakhos, who also fashioned the Apollon at Didymoi of the Milesians, and the Apollon Ismenios for the Thebans."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 27. 6 :
"[Before an historical war with Sparta] the Thebans sacrificed to [their patron gods] Dionysos and Apollon Ismenios in the accustomed manner, the Argives to [their patrons] Hera Argia and Zeus Nemeios."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 32. 5 :
"The Thebans say that when the [historical] battle of Leuktra was imminent, they sent to other oracles and to enquire of [Trophonios] the god of Lebadeia. The replies of [the oracles Apollon] Ismenios [in Thebes] and Apollon Ptoios (of Mt Ptoon) are recorded, also the responses given [by the oracle of Apollon] at Abai and at Delphoi."
II. HYSIAE (HYSIAI) Village in Boeotia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 2. 1 :
"At the present day among the ruins of Hysiai [in Boiotia] are a half-finished temple of Apollon and a sacred well. According to the Boiotian story oracles were obtained of old from the well by drinking of it."
III. DELIUM (DELION) Village in Boeotia
Herodotus, Histories 6. 118 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Datis [a Persian general] journeyed with his army to Asia, and when he arrived at Mykonos he saw a vision in his sleep. What that vision was is not told, but as soon as day broke Datis made a search of his ships. He found in a Phoinikian ship a gilded image of Apollon, and asked where this plunder had been taken. Learning from what temple it had come, he sailed in his own ship to Delos. The Delians had now returned to their island, and Datis set the image in the temple, instructing the Delians to carry it away to Theban Delion [temple of Apollon Delios in Tanagra], on the coast opposite Khalkis. Datis gave this order and sailed away, but the Delians never carried that statue away; twenty years later the Thebans brought it to Delion by command of an oracle."
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"One comes to Delion [in Boiotia], the sanctuary of Apollon, which is a reproduction of that in Delos."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 20. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Within the territory of Tanagra [in Boiotia] is what is called Delion [Temple of Apollon Delios] on Sea. In it are images of Artemis and Leto."
IV. TANAGRA Village in Boeotia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 22. 1 :
"Beside the sanctuary of Dionysos at Tanagra [in Boiotia] are three temples, one of Themis, another of Aphrodite, and the third of Apollon; with Apollon are joined Artemis and Leto."
V. MT. PTOUS (PTOOS) & PLAIN OF TENERUS (TENEROS) Mountain & Plain in Boeotia
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 34 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Teneric Plain [in Boiotia] is named after Teneros. In myth he was the son of Apollon by Melia, and was a prophet of the oracle [of Apollon] on the Ptoüs Mountain, which the same poet calls three-peaked : ‘and once he took possession of the three-peaked hollow of Ptoüs.’ And he calls Teneros ‘temple minister, prophet, called by the same name as the plains.’ The Ptoüs lies above the Teneric Plain and Lake Kopais near Akraiphion. Both the oracle and the mountain belonged to the Thebans."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 23. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"About fifteen stades away from the city [of Thebes, Boiotia] on the right is the sanctuary of Apollon Ptoos. We are told by Asios in his epic that Ptoos, who gave a surname to Apollon and the name to the mountain, was a son of Athamas by Themisto. Before the expedition of the Makedonians under Alexandros [the Great], in which Thebes was destroyed, there was here an oracle that never lied. Once too a mail of Europos, of the name of Mys, who was sent by [ther Persian general] Mardonios, inquired of the god in his own language, and the god too gave a response, not in Greek but in the Karian speech."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 32. 5 :
"The Thebans say that when the [historical] battle of Leuktra was imminent, they sent to other oracles and to enquire of [Trophonios] the god of Lebadeia. The replies of [the oracles Apollon] Ismenios [in Thebes] and Apollon Ptoios (of Mt Ptoos) are recorded, also the responses given [by the oracle of Apollon] at Abai and at Delphoi."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 26. 1 :
"On the right of the sanctuary [of the Kabeiroi near Thebes, Boiotia] is a plain named after Teneros the seer, whom they hold to be a son of Apollon by Melia."
VI. CYRTONES (KYRTONES) Village in Boeotia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 24. 4 :
"The ancient name of the town [of Kyrtones, in Boiotia] was, they say, Kyrtone. It is built on a high mountain, and here are a temple and grove of Apollon. There are also standing images of Apollon and Artemis."
VII. LEBADEIA Village in Boeotia
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 39. 4 - 5 :
"[At the oracle of Trophonios near Lebadeia, Boiotia] There is also a sanctuary of Apollon . . . [he] who descends [into the oracle] sacrifices to Trophonios himself and to the children of Trophonios, to Apollon also and [to Kronos, Zeus, Hera and Demeter]."
VIII. MT. TILPHOSSIUS (TILPHOSSIOS) Mountain in Boeotia
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 27 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pindaros calls this lake [Lake Kopais of Boiotia] Kephissis; at any rate, he places near it the spring Tilphossa, which flows at the foot of Mount Tilphossios near Haliartos and Alalkomenai, near which latter is the tomb of Teiresias; and here, too, is the temple of Apollon Tilphossios."
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 36 :
"The Thebans, at the time of the [mythical] expedition of the Epigonoi, left their city, they are said to have fled for refuge to Alalkomenai, and to Tilphossios, the mountain [sacred to Apollon], a natural stronghold that lies above it; and at the base of this mountain is a spring called Tilphossa, and the monument of Teiresias, who died there at the time of the flight."
N.B. The spring of Tilphoussa was also associated with the god in the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo.
CULT IN EUBOEA (CENTRAL GREECE)
I. MARMARIUM (MARMARION) Village in Euboea (Euboia)
Strabo, Geography 10. 1. 6 :
"At the foot of the mountain Okhe are Styra and Marmarion, in which latter is . . . a temple of Apollo Marmarinos."
II. TAMYNAE (TAMYNAI) Village in Euboea
Strabo, Geography 10. 1. 10 :
"In the Eretrian territory [of Euboia] there was a city Tamynai, sacred to Apollon; and the temple, which is near the strait, is said to have been founded by Admetos, at whose house the god served as an hireling for a year."
CULT IN PHOCIS (CENTRAL GREECE)
I. DELPHI (DELPHOI) Town & Sanctuary in Phocis (Phokis)
See The Oracle of Delphoi (page currently unavailable).
II. LILAEA (LILAIA) Village in Phocis
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 33. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"In Lilaia [in Phokis] are also a theater, a market-place and baths. There is also a sanctuary of Apollon, and one of Artemis. the images are standing, of Attic workmanship, and of marble from the Pentelic quarries."
III. TITHOREA Village in Phocis
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 33. 12 :
"The Tithronians [of Tithorea, Phokis] have a grove and altars of Apollon. There has also been made a temple, but no image."
IV. ABAE (ABAI) Village in Phocis
Herodotus, Histories 8. 27 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The Phokians [in a historical war with the Thessalians] made themselves masters of four thousand dead, and their shields, of which they dedicated half at Abai and the rest at Delphoi. A tithe of what they won in that fight went to the making of the great statues that stand around the tripod in front of the shrine at Delphoi, and there are others like them dedicated at Abai."
Herodotus, Histories 8. 33 :
"Marching down the river Kephisos, they [the historic Persian army] ravaged everything that lay in their way, burning the towns of Drymos, [and various other towns in Phokis] . . . and Abai, where there was a richly endowed temple of Apollon, provided with wealth of treasure and offerings. There was also then as now a place of divination at this place. This temple, too, they plundered and burnt."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 35. 1 - 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"If then you go along the road from Orkhomenos to Opous, and turn off a little to the left, you reach the road to Abai. The people of Abai say that they came to Phokis from Argos, and that the city got its name from Abas, the founder, who was a son of Lynkeos and of Hypermnestra, the daughter of Danaos. Abai from of old has been considered sacred to Apollon, and here too there was an oracle of that god. The treatment that the god at Abai received at the hands of the Persians was very different from the honor paid him by the Romans. For while the Romans have given freedom of government to Abai because of their reverence for Apollon, the army of Xerxes burned down, as it did others, the sanctuary at Abai. The Greeks who opposed the barbarians resolved not to rebuild the sanctuaries burnt down by them, but to leave them for all time as memorials of their hatred. This too is the reason why the temples . . . still remain half-burnt even at the present day. Such, I suppose, was the appearance of the sanctuary at Abai also, after the Persian invasion, until in the Phokian war some Phokians, overcome in battle, took refuge in Abai. Whereupon the Thebans gave them to the flames, and with the refugees the sanctuary, which was thus burnt down a second time. However, it still stood even in my time, the frailest of buildings ever damaged by fire, seeing that the ruin begun by the Persian incendiaries was completed by the incendiaries of Boiotia. Beside the large temple there is another, but smaller in size, made for Apollon by the emperor Hadrian. The images are of earlier date, being dedicated by the Abaians themselves; they are made of bronze, and all alike are standing, Apollon, Leto and Artemis. At Abai there is a theater, and also a market-place, both of ancient construction."
- Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.