Pythia was an ancient oracle, believed to have been one of the writers of the Sacred Scrolls, some 3,600 years prior to the events of the Miniseries and the destruction of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
Pythia's writings are both obscure and yet well-known: obscure, in that her entire writings are not widely studied among modern Colonials, but well-known in that extracts are widely quoted, often out of context, such as the following:
Key to Pythia's writings are two passages, relating to the exile and rebirth of the human race:
- "And the Lords anointed a leader to guide the caravan of the heavens to their new homeland. And unto the leader, they gave a vision of serpents, numbering two and ten, as a sign of things to come."
President Laura Roslin, while giving a press briefing 36 days into the flight of the surviving Colonials, had a hallucination that her podium showed two snakes crawling on it, and then a dozen (The Hand of God). Additionally, Pythia wrote that the anointed leader had a "wasting illness" and would not live to enter the new land; Roslin is dying of cancer at the time (TRS: "The Hand of God"), and Roslin later dies prior to reaching the spot where William Adama aims to build his cabin (TRS: "Daybreak, Part II").
In the second passage, Pythia foretells of an initial battle in which the Colonials are "led by serpents two and ten" and are victorious over their foes. During their flight from the Cylons, the Colonials are forced to attack a Cylon base in order to obtain fuel. The attack is led by twelve Vipers (TRS: "The Hand of God"). However, Pythia's writings on the battle foretell it leading to a larger confrontation, this time "at the home of the Gods." (TRS: "The Hand of God", "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II", "Home, Part II")
The writings of Pythia appear to have particular interest to the Cylons. Leoben Conoy used quotes from Pythia during his interrogation, and goes on to point out to Kara Thrace that while her people kneel before idols, "You don't realize your destiny has already been written" — another reference to Pythia's foretelling of the exile (TRS: "Flesh and Bone").
It is unclear, particularly in the context of "all this has happened before" if Pythia is writing history which repeats, or prophecy or both. Her writings are always in the past tense, and some phrases clearly refer to past events (the journey to Earth) while in other instances it is said she has "foretold" events. However, text from the book of Pythia is used to help locate the Tomb of Athena which is alleged to be constructed during the great exodus 1,600 years after her writing. (TRS: "Home, Part II")
- In Greek mythology Pythia was a Sibyl, the Oracle of Delphi. While the temple at Delphi was closely identified with Gaia, the mother of Earth (and responsible for laying the foundations for the Olympian gods), Delphi itself had a close association with Apollo.
- In Roman mythology the Sibylline Books or Sibyllae were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibylla, meaning prophetess in Greek, by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus. These books were consulted at momentous crises through the history of Rome and only fragments have survived, the rest being lost or deliberately destroyed.
- Pythia talks of a flood which destroyed most of humanity, and left it rejuvenated (TRS: "The Hub"). A deluge of this nature is present in many mythologies with western audiences likely to be most familiar with the biblical story of Noah's Ark.
- This is actually the opening from "Peter Pan", which Ron D. Moore cites as his source. Podcast: Frak Party Q and A , Seek to: 23:28. Total running time: 78:27.
- According to Ron Moore, "There used to be a Cylon attack after this whole thing with Sharon went down. The Centurions came and attacked during the upcoming planetarium sequence. And we eventually cut that... We changed this very moment right here, where Adama gets the gun. It was a late change in the editing room. Originally he took that gun and put it to Sharon's head. And we were playing the beat of will he shoot Sharon or not. And then we just made that lift within the last week, so it plays out more emotionally here, instead of putting another gun to another person's head." (TRS: "Home, Part II" podcast)
- The Sibylline Books should not be confused with the so-called Sibylline Oracles, twelve books of prophesies thought to be of Judaeo-Christian origin.