|“||This is my curse! It's either talk like this or stay completely - Nine letters. Fifth letter is D.||”|
–Herophile talking about her curse, The Burning Maze
Herophile is the Oracle of Erythaea, one of the oracles of Apollo. She was born with a beautiful voice that managed to attract Apollo, and as a result, he made her one of his oracles and blessed her with the power of prophecy. She spouts prophecies in the form of word puzzles.
Herophile was born in the Bay of Erythrae to a shepherd in homespun wool and a naiad of a spring in the nearby area. As she emerged from the womb of her mother, she started singing. This immediately attracted Apollo's attention, and as a result, he blessed her as his sacred oracle.
Life as an Oracle
For years, Herophile wandered the world to share her wisdom. She said her prophecies in the form of a song, her beautiful voice distracted all listeners from the content of the prophecy. She couldn't repeat her prophecies, so listeners often missed a few parts. She predicted the fall of Troy, the rise of Alexander the Great and even the birth of Jesus. She also advised Aeneas on where he should establish the colony that would one day become Rome.
After nine hundred years, she became discouraged since everyone from her youth had died. She returned home to her mother’s hillside in Erythrae and settled in the nearby cave, her mother died after the spring dried up centuries before. She helped whoever came to seek her wisdom as the oracle, but her beautiful singing voice faded. Instead, she started leaving out important parts of prophecies. Eventually, her prophecies became in the form of word puzzles. Sometimes she couldn't speak at all, so she scribbled lines on dried leaves and left them for the supplicant to arrange in the proper order to find meaning.
In 1509 CE, Apollo forced her to leave the cave for one last visit to Rome, where Michelangelo was painting her portrait on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Afterward, she returned to her cave for good. Apollo mentioned that was the last time he'd saw her and assumed she had faded away, much like his other ancient oracles.
In The Series
Some time afterward, Herophile was captured by Caligula of the Triumvirate Holdings in order to control fate. She was chained in the Labyrinth under SoCal in the area that was known as the Burning Maze. Medea was gathering the faded essence and ichor of Helios so that she can make a spell to make Caligula the new sun god. Herophile was trapped in the heart of the maze on a stone platform above a pool of lava, her hands were cuffed with molten chains attached to glowing red iron cuffs anchoring her to the platform.
Herophile first appeared in a dream of Apollo's. When she speaks a crossword puzzle, she chokes as if there was glass was in her throat. She apologizes and warns Apollo that he must come even though it is a trap.
When Apollo, Grover Underwood, and Meg McCaffrey find her and get to her to free her, Medea appears. She does what she can when the sorceress begins to steal Apollo’s immortal essence to complete her spell. She urges Apollo to recite a prophecy to fill up the room and contain the flames of Helios. She is overjoyed when backup arrives, but annoyed when Apollo does not notice the message in his prophecy. As her chamber is falling apart they flee the labyrinth and are cornered by Incitatus and a dozen Pandai. The Meliai quickly kill all of their enemies.
Apollo mentions her when thinking about meeting her in the Burning Maze.
Meg mentions that Herophile works as a tarot card reader in a crystal shop she owns. Her income is enough to pay for the expenses at Aeithales.
Herophile was a graceful olive-skinned woman. She had long auburn hair gathered up in a donut braid. She wore a sleeveless dress that was as light and grey as moth wings. She looked twenty but her eyes were like black pearls. When Apollo first met her in the burning maze, she was chained with hot shackles.
- Herophile's name means "Friend of Heroes".
- In some myths, she is said to be a child of Poseidon and Aphrodite.