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Pythian games(pĭth`ēən), in ancient Greece, games held at Delphi every four years (the third of each Olympiad). They included musical, literary, and athletic contests. The games honored Apollo and took their name from Pythia, the priestess of the oracle at DelphiDelphi
, locality in Phocis, Greece, near the foot of the south slope of Mt. Parnassós, c.6 mi (10 km) northeast of the port of Cirrha. It was the seat of the Delphic oracle, the most famous and most powerful of ancient Greece.
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in ancient Greece, pan-Greek celebrations and contests held at the temple of Pythian Apollo in Delphi. The Pythian games were second in importance to the Olympic games. According to tradition, they were instituted by Apollo after his victory over the serpent Python. Originally, the games took place once every eight years and consisted of musical contests. Hymns in honor of Apollo were performed to the accompaniment of a cithara. Beginning around 582 B.C., the games included athletic competitions and chariot races; the interval between games was shortened to four years. A wreath of laurel (considered to be the sacred tree of Apollo) was awarded to the victors. The Pythian games were last held in the late fourth century A.D.
See also Isthmian Games, Nemean Games, Olympic Games
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