A story has been told of times long passed,
When, through the primal mists, there took to flight
An eagle and swan from the earth’s utmost regions,
That they may reliably discern the omphalos;
And each, having at last sighted the other,
Rested upon the rocks where later built
Mortals the temple of Apollo Pythius. 

For many years had this fable pronounced
Itself through the inquiring hearts of men
When Epimenides—desirous of
Some certain truth—sought out the Oracle,
To attest, if she may, to the verity of
The ancient tale; yet, having but received
An obscure and uncertain answer there,
He composed in his doubt these verses: 

Now do we know that there is not, of earth or sea, a navel;
Yet, if there be, it is known not to mortals, but to gods;
And gods, beyond the sun, are not now known to anyone. 

Yet very likely did the gods repulse
The man from his design, and cloud the message
Of the Oracle, for his hubris to inquire
The proof of such a tale, as though he meant, 
As with a painting, to test of its virtue. 


—Adapted by Matt Wildermuth from Plutarch’s On the Obsolescence of Oracles 

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