God of the Sun, the Light, the Music and Prophecy
Apollo is one of the most complex and important gods, and is the god of many things, including: music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge. He is the son of Zeus and the Titan Leto, and was born in the Greek island of Delos, along with his older twin sister Artemis – goddess of the hunt.
Apollo is the ideal of the kouros, which means he has a beardless, athletic and youthful appearance. He is also an oracular god as a patron of Delphi and could predict prophecy through the Delphic Oracle Pythia.
Both medicine and healing are associated with Apollo and were thought to sometimes be mediated through his son, Asclepius. However, Apollo could also bring ill-health and deadly plague.
Apollo also became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. He was the leader of the Muses (also known as Apollon Musegetes) and was director of their choir – functioning as the patron god of music and poetry.
The god Hermes create the lyre for Apollo and this instrument became a known attribute for him. When hymns were sung to Apollo they were called paeans
At the drinking parties held on Olympus, Apollo accompanied the Muses on his cithara, while the young goddesses led the dance. Both Leto and Zeus were proud of their son, who was radiant with grace and beauty.
Apollo was one of the few gods that the Romans kept the same name. In Greek mythology, he was most widely known as the god of light. Within Roman mythology, he wasn’t known as much as the god of light and was focused mainly as the god of healing and prophecy.
Facts about Apollo
- Apollo was the son of Leto and Zeus. He was born on the island of Delos.
- He and his twin sister Artemis, also an Olympian, shared an aptitude for archery.
- His forename, Phoebus, means “bright” or “pure” and connects him to his grandmother, the Titan Phoebe.
- Apollo, a masterful magician, was known for delighting Olympus with tunes played on his golden lyre. His lyre, a stringed instrument that resembles a small harp, was made by Hermes.
- The nine Muses were companions of his; they were goddesses known for inspiring art and music.
- Apollo taught men the art of medicine, so he is often referred to as “The Healer.”
- Apollo is alternately referred to as the God of Light and the God of Truth.
- Apollo served as an intermediary between the gods and men.
- Because of his truthfulness and integrity, he was granted the gift of prophecy and oracles.
- Apollo defended the oracle at Delphi against Hercules, who was angry at the priestess for having denied him a prophecy.
- Apollo killed a serpent named Python as a result of a contest; it was conquered by a single arrow.
- According to Homer’s Illiad, Apollo played a major part in the Trojan War. He infected the Greek encampment with a plague and aided Paris in killing Achilles.
- Ironically, Apollo was also a purifier, able to cleanse even those stained with the blood of their relatives.
- The dolphin and swan were the animals sacred to him.
- The laurel, used in Greece as a status symbol, was Apollo’s tree.
- Apollo accidentally killed his dearest companion, Hyacinthus, in a discus throwing contest.
- Apollo is credited with killing the Cyclops in retaliation for arming Zeus with the thunderbolt.
- He had many love affairs with both mortals and goddesses. Perhaps the most famous of these women was a mortal named Hecuba, who was married to the King of Troy. The union between Apollo and Hecuba produced a son named Troilus.
- Apollo’s affections were rejected by Cassandra, yet another mortal, so he punished her by arranging it so that her prophecies would never be believed.
- Asclepius is probably Apollo’s most well-known son, although he had many offspring.
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