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Many political decisions were taken after consultation of the Oracle, and no colony was founded around the Mediterranean without the consent of the sanctuary at Delphi. In proportion with its immense influence, the settlement at delphi grew from a small village to a imposing depository of fine Architecture and Art. The functions of the Oracle of Delphi grew over the centuries to include athletic games and cultural events and Delphic festivals, the most important of which was the Pythian Games which were held every four years in memory of Apollo's slaying of the Python Dragon. To accommodate the gratitude that each city/state was eager to express, and all the cultural affairs, the sanctuary evolved to include major temple complexes, a theater, a stadium, and a number of ornate treasuries. Some of the most prominent edifices on the sacred slopes of Delphi are the temple of Apollo, the ancient theater, the stadium, the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia with the Tholos, the Kastalia spring, and the various treasuries that adorn the sacred way. The archaeological museum on the site contains many important ancient Greek artifacts from the excavations at Delphi. Delphi was inhabited since Mycenaean times (14th - 11th c. B.C.) by small settlements who were dedicated to the Mother Earth deity. The worship of Apollo as the god of light, harmony, and order was established between the 11th and 9th centuries. Slowly over the next five centuries the sanctuary grew in size and importance. During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia--the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gasses, and muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future. The ancient people of the Mediterranean had such faith in Pythia's view of the future that no major decision was made without consulting the Oracle of Delphi first. Greek and foreign dignitaries, heads of state, and common folk made the pilgrimage to the Delphi sanctuary, and paid great sums for Pythia's oracles. Since the sanctuary only served the public a few days over nine months out of the year, great sums were paid by the more affluent ones in order to bypass the long line of pilgrims.
To commemorate the triumph of Apollo over Python the sanctuary organized the Pythian Games every four years which were athletic events much like the Olympics. In the 20th century Angelos Sikelianos organized a modern version of the Delphic games. The sanctuary of Delphi fell into Roman hands in 191 B.C, and was stripped of its treasures by General Sylla in 86 B.C. in order to finance his siege of Athens, and three years later Delphi was razed by the Thracian Maedi who -legend has itextinguished the sacred fire which had been burning uninterrupted for centuries.