================================================== This is the smallest of the Cyclades islands. It lays about eighty-five miles southeast of Athens. Centrally located, the Greeks believed it to be the spot around which the other islands were formed. The island itself is very small, about three miles in length and one to one and a half miles in width. Despite its rugged granite formation, archeological digs have uncovered the remains of temples, gymnasia, theatres, public buildings, and many other structures.

Delos was particularly important to the Greeks because it was, supposedly, the birth place of the gods, Apollo and Artemis. Of the two, it was considered sacred to Apollo. Because he was the offspring of an adulterous relationship (Zeus, as you might guess, was the father.), Apollo's mother, Leta, was not allowed to give birth anywhere in Greece. Everyone feared the wrath of Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus. The island of Delos agreed to be the birthing site on the conditon that Apollo would build his temple there. Even then, the labor took nine days because Hera prevented the goddess of birth, Eileithyia, from going to the island!

From the earliest times (circa eighth century B.C.E.), Greeks travelled to Delos to honor Apollo with a glorious festival (panegyris) of song, dance, and games. In the Apology, it is Apollo, via the Delphic Oracle, who commissions Socrates to pursue truth. Here, a sacred festival in Apollo's honor prolongs Socrates' life and allows him a bit more time to seek the truth through dialectics (elenchus).
Map of Greece

Ruins at the Island of Delos
Photo: Thomas Martin and Ivy S. Sun
The Perseus Project