Double Tongue by William Golding
An aged prophetess at Delphi, the most sacred oracle in ancient Greece, looks back over her strange life as the Pythia, the First Lady and voice of the god Apollo. As a young virgin with disturbing psychic powers, Arieka was handed over to the service of the shrine by her parents. She has now spent sixty years as the very medium, the torn mouthpiece, of equivocal mantic utterances from the bronze tripod in the sanctuary beneath the temple. Over a lifetime at the mercy of god and priest and people she has watched the decay of Delphi's fortunes and its influence in the world. Her reflections on the mysteries of the oracle, which her own weird gifts have embodied, are matched by her feminine insight into the human frailties of the High Priest himself, a true Athenian, whose intriguing against the Romans brings about humiliation and disaster. This extraordinary short novel was left in draft at Golding's sudden death in 1993 but it is a psychological and historical triumph.