In Greek mythology, Kleodora // was one of the prophetic Thriai, nymphs who divined the future by throwing stones or pebbles. She and her sisters Melaina and Daphne lived on Mount Parnassus, were Delphi is located and was loved by Poseidon. With Poseidon she became the mother of Parnassus. In myths where demigods have two fathers the other is listed as Kleopompos. Parnassus is famous for creating a method of telling the future by using birds and founding the main city on Mt. Parnassus. Her father was the local river-god Cephissus of northern Boeotia.
The meaning of her name and the names of her sisters connect her to the future and Apollo. Kleodora means Glorious Gift, Melania means The Black, and Daphnis means Laurel. Kleodora's name refers to her gift of prophecy. Melania's name refers to the black that would surround the stones used for Prophecy. Daphnis' name is directly related to Apollo because laurels were often used to represent him.
The Death of Pythia
According to the myth of Apollo's origins, cross-referenced with a report on how honey is related to early mythology, Kleodora was one of the Thirae, three prophetic nymphs who originally translated for Pythia the Python, Pythia being the original Oracle of Delphi. Because Hera did not like Zeus's mistresses, she commanded Pythia to follow Leto whenever she was in the sun, so that she would never have any rest during the pregnancy. Shortly after his birth, Apollo discovered this and set out to destroy Pythia. Once Apollo defeated Pythia, he demanded that the nymphs at Delphi teach him how to prophesy in her place. He was 4 days old. Kleodora specialized in prophesying with small stones, which likely means that she was using Lithomancy.
The type prophecy that Kleodora would have engaged in, while not translating, was Lithomancy. The word Lithomancy comes from the Greek word Lithos, meaning stone, and manteia, meaning prophecy. The gemstones used had different properties based on what kind of stone they were. Some could be for temporal discoveries, while others could be medicinal remedies.
In the reflection method of Divination, the stones were cast on a black sheet and looked at by candle light. The different colors of the reflections determined if the reading was good or bad, or even what it was about. Another method determined the future by where the stones landed in relation to a central candle. In this case, each stone represented something in particular. It has been suggested that Lithomancy is a precursor to rune stones.
Other forms of Divination
Lithomancy was likely an offshoot of the much more common lots. Using lots was common all over the ancient world. The differences between lots and stones are slim, but important. Lots were often used for numerical things. They were used for counting or choosing one thing out of a group. Using stones was very localized to Greece and not often used for anything other than prophecy.
As one of the prophetesses of the Oracle of Delphi, Kleodora would likely have known everything about the process of delivering a prophecy from the Oracle. It was a very ritualistic experience, starting with ice water being poured over a goat to determine if Apollo was present for the day. If the goat shivered then everything was deemed good and the goat was sacrificed. The Prophetess then would stay inside her chamber by herself, breathing in the fumes in solitude. She would then be confronted with the question of whoever had come to see her. When a prophetess died, a new one would be chosen from her interpreters. All of the interpreters had to be virgin women who were epileptic. Later, the extra qualification of old was added on. Epileptic people were viewed as closer to the gods. It is quite possible that Kleodora herself became the Oracle at one point.
In addition to Delphi being the site of Apollo worship, it was also popular with worshipers of Dionysus. These women were called Thyiades and they made a pilgrimage up the mountain to celebrate Dionysus with orgies. Knowing the nature of nymphs, it's highly likely that Kleodora and her sisters took part in these activities. It was said that the cries of the women could be heard from towns away at all hours of the night.
This happened during the time that Greece was still city states with cults rather than a united nation. It's quite likely that there was a Dionysus cult and an Apollo cult in close range to each other. This would explain why the same minor figure appears in two very different stories about two very different gods. It's also possible that another cult belonging to Poseidon was also in the area, which is probably how she got involved with him.
- Pausanias, 10.6.13.
- REFLECTIONS ON THE ORIGINS OF THE ORACULAR APOLLO - Dietrich - 2010 - Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies - Wiley Online Library http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2041-5370.1978.tb00379.x/abstract
- Honey plays a significant role in the mythology and history of many cultures - Mad_Honey.pdf http://www.redbluffpark.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Mad_Honey.pdf
- Types of Divination http://www.enlightened-pathways.com/typesofdiv.html.
- Lithomancy - Lithomancy, divination by stones - Occultopedia, the Occult and Unexplained Encyclopedia http://www.occultopedia.com/l/lithomancy.htm