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Water Ritual at Delphi
GroupingLegendary creature
Sub groupingWater spirit

Castalia /kəˈstliə/ (Ancient Greek: Κασταλία, romanizedKastalia), in ancient Greek and Roman literature,[1] was the name of a spring near Delphi, sacred to the Muses; it is also known as the Castalian Spring. It is said to have derived its name from Castalia, a naiad-nymph, daughter of the river-god Achelous, who is said to have flung herself into the spring when pursued by the god Apollo.[2]


In older traditions, the Castalian Spring already existed by the time Apollo came to Delphi searching for Python.[3] According to some, the water was a gift to Castalia from the river Cephisus.

In his commentary on Statius's Thebaid, Latin poet Lactantius Placidus says that to escape Apollo's amorous advances, Castalia transformed herself into a fountain at Delphi, at the base of Mount Parnassus, or at Mount Helicon.[4][5] She inspired the genius of poetry to those who drank her waters or listened to their quiet sound; the sacred water was also used to clean the Delphian temples. Apollo consecrated Castalia to the Muses (Castaliae Musae).

The 20th-century German writer Hermann Hesse used Castalia as inspiration for the name of the futuristic fictional utopia in his 1943 magnum opus The Glass Bead Game. Castalia is home to an austere order of intellectuals with a twofold mission: to run boarding schools for boys, and to nurture and play the Glass Bead Game.

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  1. ^ The spring is mentioned in Herodotus, 8.39; Pindar, Pyth. 1.39; Virgil, Georgics 3.293; Horace, Odes 3.4.61; Statius, Thebaid 1.698 and elsewhere: see Liddell, Scott, Jones Greek Lexicon s.v. Κασταλία; Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary, s.v. Castalia.
  2. ^ Smith, W. (1858). Classical Dictionary, s.v. Castalia.
  3. ^ Homer, Hymn to Apollo
  4. ^ "Castalia". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  5. ^ Lactantius Placidus, On Statius's Thebaid 1.698

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