God of music, poetry, arts, oracles, archery, herds and flocks, diseases, healing, light, sun, knowledge and protection of young
Apollo Belvedere, c. 120-140 CE
|Symbol||Lyre, laurel wreath, python, raven, swan, bow and arrows|
|Children||Asclepius, Troilus, Aristaeus, Orpheus|
|Parents||Zeus and Leto|
|Siblings||Artemis, Aeacus, Angelos, Aphrodite, Ares, Athena, Dionysus, Eileithyia, Enyo, Eris, Ersa, Hebe, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, Heracles, Hermes, Minos, Pandia, Persephone, Perseus, Rhadamanthus, the Graces, the Horae, the Litae, the Muses, the Moirai|
Apollo (Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek: ?, Apoll?n (GEN ) is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all gods. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.
As an archer who never missed, Apollo carried a golden bow (silver bow, sometimes) and a quiver of golden arrows. As the inventor of archery and taught the same to the people. His arrows could inflict harm by causing sudden deaths or deadly plague.
As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functions as the patron god of music and poetry. He is the inventor of string-music. The Cithara and the lyre are also his inventions. The lyre is a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.
Apollo favors and delights in the foundation of towns and the establishment of civil constitution. Hence is associated with dominion over colonists. Additionally, he is the god of foreigners, the protector of fugitives and refugees.
As the protector of young, Apollo (kourotrophos) is concerned with the health of children. He presides over their education and brings them out of their adolescence. Due to this belief, boys in Ancient Greece, upon reaching their adulthood, cut their hair and dedicated it to Apollo.
He is the patron of herdsmen and protector of herds and flocks. He is believed to cause abundance in the milk produced by cattle, and is also connected with their fertility.
Apollo is the god who affords help and wards off evil. He delivered men from the epidemics. Various epithets call him the "averter of evil".
As an agricultural deity, Apollo protects the crops from diseases, especially the rust in corns and grains. He is also the controller and destroyer of pests that infect plants and plant harvests.
In Hellenistic times, especially during the 5th century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun. In Latin texts, however, there was no conflation of Apollo with Sol among the classical Latin poets until 1st century AD. Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 5th century CE.
The name Apollo--unlike the related older name Paean--is generally not found in the Linear B (Mycenean Greek) texts, although there is a possible attestation in the lacunose form ]pe-rjo-[ (Linear B: ]-[) on the KN E 842 tablet.
The etymology of the name is uncertain. The spelling ? (pronounced [a.pól.l?:n] in Classical Attic) had almost superseded all other forms by the beginning of the common era, but the Doric form, Apellon (?), is more archaic, as it is derived from an earlier *?j. It probably is a cognate to the Doric month Apellaios (), and the offerings apellaia () at the initiation of the young men during the family-festival apellai (?). According to some scholars, the words are derived from the Doric word apella (), which originally meant "wall," "fence for animals" and later "assembly within the limits of the square."Apella () is the name of the popular assembly in Sparta, corresponding to the ecclesia (). R. S. P. Beekes rejected the connection of the theonym with the noun apellai and suggested a Pre-Greek proto-form *Apalyun.
Several instances of popular etymology are attested from ancient authors. Thus, the Greeks most often associated Apollo's name with the Greek verb (apollymi), "to destroy".Plato in Cratylus connects the name with (apolysis), "redemption", with (apolousis), "purification", and with ([h]aploun), "simple", in particular in reference to the Thessalian form of the name, , and finally with (aeiballon), "ever-shooting". Hesychius connects the name Apollo with the Doric (apella), which means "assembly", so that Apollo would be the god of political life, and he also gives the explanation (sekos), "fold", in which case Apollo would be the god of flocks and herds. In the ancient Macedonian language (pella) means "stone," and some toponyms may be derived from this word: (Pella, the capital of ancient Macedonia) and ? (Pell?n?/Pallene).
A number of non-Greek etymologies have been suggested for the name, The Hittite form Apaliunas (dx-ap-pa-li-u-na-a?) is attested in the Manapa-Tarhunta letter, perhaps related to Hurrian (and certainly the Etruscan) Aplu, a god of plague, in turn likely from Akkadian Aplu Enlil meaning simply "the son of Enlil", a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun. The role of Apollo as god of plague is evident in the invocation of Apollo Smintheus ("mouse Apollo") by Chryses, the Trojan priest of Apollo, with the purpose of sending a plague against the Greeks (the reasoning behind a god of the plague becoming a god of healing is apotropaic, meaning that the god responsible for bringing the plague must be appeased in order to remove the plague).
The Hittite testimony reflects an early form *Apelj?n, which may also be surmised from comparison of Cypriot ? with Doric ?. The name of the Lydian god Q?dãns /kðãns/ may reflect an earlier /k?alyán-/ before palatalization, syncope, and the pre-Lydian sound change *y > d. Note the labiovelar in place of the labial /p/ found in pre-Doric ?j and Hittite Apaliunas.
Apollo's chief epithet was Phoebus ( FEE-b?s; , Phoibos Greek pronunciation: [p?ó?i.bos]), literally "bright". It was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans for Apollo's role as the god of light. Like other Greek deities, he had a number of others applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few occur in Latin literature.
The cult centers of Apollo in Greece, Delphi and Delos, date from the 8th century BCE. The Delos sanctuary was primarily dedicated to Artemis, Apollo's twin sister. At Delphi, Apollo was venerated as the slayer of Pytho. For the Greeks, Apollo was all the Gods in one and through the centuries he acquired different functions which could originate from different gods. In archaic Greece he was the prophet, the oracular god who in older times was connected with "healing". In classical Greece he was the god of light and of music, but in popular religion he had a strong function to keep away evil.Walter Burkert discerned three components in the prehistory of Apollo worship, which he termed "a Dorian-northwest Greek component, a Cretan-Minoan component, and a Syro-Hittite component."
From his eastern origin Apollo brought the art of inspection of "symbols and omina" ( : s?meia kai terata), and of the observation of the omens of the days. The inspiration oracular-cult was probably introduced from Anatolia. The ritualism belonged to Apollo from the beginning. The Greeks created the legalism, the supervision of the orders of the gods, and the demand for moderation and harmony. Apollo became the god of shining youth, ideal beauty, fine arts, philosophy, moderation, spiritual-life, the protector of music, divine law and perceptible order. The improvement of the old Anatolian god, and his elevation to an intellectual sphere, may be considered an achievement of the Greek people.
The function of Apollo as a "healer" is connected with Paean (-), the physician of the Gods in the Iliad, who seems to come from a more primitive religion. Pae?n is probably connected with the Mycenean pa-ja-wo-ne (Linear B: ?), but this is not certain. He did not have a separate cult, but he was the personification of the holy magic-song sung by the magicians that was supposed to cure disease. Later the Greeks knew the original meaning of the relevant song "paean" (). The magicians were also called "seer-doctors" (), and they used an ecstatic prophetic art which was used exactly by the god Apollo at the oracles.
In the Iliad, Apollo is the healer under the gods, but he is also the bringer of disease and death with his arrows, similar to the function of the Vedic god of disease Rudra. He sends a plague () to the Achaeans. The god who sends a disease can also prevent it; therefore, when it stops, they make a purifying ceremony and offer him a hecatomb to ward off evil. When the oath of his priest appeases, they pray and with a song they call their own god, the Paean.
Some common epithets of Apollo as a healer are "paion" ( literally "healer" or "helper") "epikourios" (?, "succouring"), "oulios" (, "healer, baleful") and "loimios" (?, "of the plague"). In classical times, his strong function in popular religion was to keep away evil, and was therefore called "apotropaios" (, "averting evil") and "alexikakos" (? "keeping off ill"; from v. + n. ). In later writers, the word, usually spelled "Paean", becomes a mere epithet of Apollo in his capacity as a god of healing.
Homer illustrated Paeon the god, and the song both of apotropaic thanksgiving or triumph. Such songs were originally addressed to Apollo, and afterwards to other gods: to Dionysus, to Apollo Helios, to Apollo's son Asclepius the healer. About the 4th century BCE, the paean became merely a formula of adulation; its object was either to implore protection against disease and misfortune, or to offer thanks after such protection had been rendered. It was in this way that Apollo had become recognised as the god of music. Apollo's role as the slayer of the Python led to his association with battle and victory; hence it became the Roman custom for a paean to be sung by an army on the march and before entering into battle, when a fleet left the harbour, and also after a victory had been won.
The connection with the Dorians and their initiation festival apellai is reinforced by the month Apellaios in northwest Greek calendars. The family-festival was dedicated to Apollo (Doric: ?).Apellaios is the month of these rites, and Apellon is the "megistos kouros" (the great Kouros). However it can explain only the Doric type of the name, which is connected with the Ancient Macedonian word "pella" (Pella), stone. Stones played an important part in the cult of the god, especially in the oracular shrine of Delphi (Omphalos).
The "Homeric hymn" represents Apollo as a Northern intruder. His arrival must have occurred during the "Dark Ages" that followed the destruction of the Mycenaean civilization, and his conflict with Gaia (Mother Earth) was represented by the legend of his slaying her daughter the serpent Python.
The earth deity had power over the ghostly world, and it is believed that she was the deity behind the oracle. The older tales mentioned two dragons who were perhaps intentionally conflated. A female dragon named Delphyne (?; cf. , "womb"), and a male serpent Typhon (; from , "to smoke"), the adversary of Zeus in the Titanomachy, who the narrators confused with Python. Python was the good daemon ( ) of the temple as it appears in Minoan religion, but she was represented as a dragon, as often happens in Northern European folklore as well as in the East.
Apollo and his sister Artemis can bring death with their arrows. The conception that diseases and death come from invisible shots sent by supernatural beings, or magicians is common in Germanic and Norse mythology. In Greek mythology Artemis was the leader (, "hegemon") of the nymphs, who had similar functions with the Nordic Elves. The "elf-shot" originally indicated disease or death attributed to the elves, but it was later attested denoting stone arrow-heads which were used by witches to harm people, and also for healing rituals.
The Vedic Rudra has some similar functions with Apollo. The terrible god is called "The Archer", and the bow is also an attribute of Shiva. Rudra could bring diseases with his arrows, but he was able to free people of them, and his alternative Shiba is a healer physician god. However the Indo-European component of Apollo does not explain his strong relation with omens, exorcisms, and with the oracular cult.
It seems an oracular cult existed in Delphi from the Mycenaean age. In historical times, the priests of Delphi were called Lab(r)yadai, "the double-axe men", which indicates Minoan origin. The double-axe, labrys, was the holy symbol of the Cretan labyrinth. The Homeric hymn adds that Apollo appeared as a dolphin and carried Cretan priests to Delphi, where they evidently transferred their religious practices. Apollo Delphinios or Delphidios was a sea-god especially worshiped in Crete and in the islands. Apollo's sister Artemis, who was the Greek goddess of hunting, is identified with Britomartis (Diktynna), the Minoan "Mistress of the animals". In her earliest depictions she is accompanied by the "Mister of the animals", a male god of hunting who had the bow as his attribute. His original name is unknown, but it seems that he was absorbed by the more popular Apollo, who stood by the virgin "Mistress of the Animals", becoming her brother.
The old oracles in Delphi seem to be connected with a local tradition of the priesthood, and there is not clear evidence that a kind of inspiration-prophecy existed in the temple. This led some scholars to the conclusion that Pythia carried on the rituals in a consistent procedure through many centuries, according to the local tradition. In that regard, the mythical seeress Sibyl of Anatolian origin, with her ecstatic art, looks unrelated to the oracle itself. However, the Greek tradition is referring to the existence of vapours and chewing of laurel-leaves, which seem to be confirmed by recent studies.
Plato describes the priestesses of Delphi and Dodona as frenzied women, obsessed by "mania" (, "frenzy"), a Greek word he connected with mantis (, "prophet"). Frenzied women like Sibyls from whose lips the god speaks are recorded in the Near East as Mari in the second millennium BC. Although Crete had contacts with Mari from 2000 BC, there is no evidence that the ecstatic prophetic art existed during the Minoan and Mycenean ages. It is more probable that this art was introduced later from Anatolia and regenerated an existing oracular cult that was local to Delphi and dormant in several areas of Greece.
A non-Greek origin of Apollo has long been assumed in scholarship. The name of Apollo's mother Leto has Lydian origin, and she was worshipped on the coasts of Asia Minor. The inspiration oracular cult was probably introduced into Greece from Anatolia, which is the origin of Sibyl, and where existed some of the oldest oracular shrines. Omens, symbols, purifications, and exorcisms appear in old Assyro-Babylonian texts, and these rituals were spread into the empire of the Hittites. In a Hittite text is mentioned that the king invited a Babylonian priestess for a certain "purification".
A similar story is mentioned by Plutarch. He writes that the Cretan seer Epimenides purified Athens after the pollution brought by the Alcmeonidae, and that the seer's expertise in sacrifices and reform of funeral practices were of great help to Solon in his reform of the Athenian state. The story indicates that Epimenides was probably heir to the shamanic religions of Asia, and proves, together with the Homeric hymn, that Crete had a resisting religion up to historical times. It seems that these rituals were dormant in Greece, and they were reinforced when the Greeks migrated to Anatolia.
Homer pictures Apollo on the side of the Trojans, fighting against the Achaeans, during the Trojan War. He is pictured as a terrible god, less trusted by the Greeks than other gods. The god seems to be related to Appaliunas, a tutelary god of Wilusa (Troy) in Asia Minor, but the word is not complete. The stones found in front of the gates of Homeric Troy were the symbols of Apollo. A western Anatolian origin may also be bolstered by references to the parallel worship of Artimus (Artemis) and Q?dãns, whose name may be cognate with the Hittite and Doric forms, in surviving Lydian texts. However, recent scholars have cast doubt on the identification of Q?dãns with Apollo.
The Greeks gave to him the name ? agyieus as the protector god of public places and houses who wards off evil, and his symbol was a tapered stone or column. However, while usually Greek festivals were celebrated at the full moon, all the feasts of Apollo were celebrated at the seventh day of the month, and the emphasis given to that day (sibutu) indicates a Babylonian origin.
The Late Bronze Age (from 1700 to 1200 BCE) Hittite and Hurrian Aplu was a god of plague, invoked during plague years. Here we have an apotropaic situation, where a god originally bringing the plague was invoked to end it. Aplu, meaning the son of, was a title given to the god Nergal, who was linked to the Babylonian god of the sun Shamash. Homer interprets Apollo as a terrible god ( ?) who brings death and disease with his arrows, but who can also heal, possessing a magic art that separates him from the other Greek gods. In Iliad, his priest prays to Apollo Smintheus, the mouse god who retains an older agricultural function as the protector from field rats. All these functions, including the function of the healer-god Paean, who seems to have Mycenean origin, are fused in the cult of Apollo.
Unusually among the Olympic deities, Apollo had two cult sites that had widespread influence: Delos and Delphi. In cult practice, Delian Apollo and Pythian Apollo (the Apollo of Delphi) were so distinct that they might both have shrines in the same locality. Apollo's cult was already fully established when written sources commenced, about 650 BCE. Apollo became extremely important to the Greek world as an oracular deity in the archaic period, and the frequency of theophoric names such as Apollodorus or Apollonios and cities named Apollonia testify to his popularity. Oracular sanctuaries to Apollo were established in other sites. In the 2nd and 3rd century CE, those at Didyma and Clarus pronounced the so-called "theological oracles", in which Apollo confirms that all deities are aspects or servants of an all-encompassing, highest deity. "In the 3rd century, Apollo fell silent. Julian the Apostate (359-361) tried to revive the Delphic oracle, but failed."
Apollo had a famous oracle in Delphi, and other notable ones in Clarus and Branchidae. His oracular shrine in Abae in Phocis, where he bore the toponymic epithet Abaeus (? , Apollon Abaios), was important enough to be consulted by Croesus. His oracular shrines include:
Oracles were also given by sons of Apollo.
Many temples were dedicated to Apollo in Greece and the Greek colonies. They show the spread of the cult of Apollo and the evolution of the Greek architecture, which was mostly based on the rightness of form and on mathematical relations. Some of the earliest temples, especially in Crete, do not belong to any Greek order. It seems that the first peripteral temples were rectangular wooden structures. The different wooden elements were considered divine, and their forms were preserved in the marble or stone elements of the temples of Doric order. The Greeks used standard types because they believed that the world of objects was a series of typical forms which could be represented in several instances. The temples should be canonic, and the architects were trying to achieve this esthetic perfection. From the earliest times there were certain rules strictly observed in rectangular peripteral and prostyle buildings. The first buildings were built narrowly in order to hold the roof, and when the dimensions changed some mathematical relations became necessary in order to keep the original forms. This probably influenced the theory of numbers of Pythagoras, who believed that behind the appearance of things there was the permanent principle of mathematics.
The Doric order dominated during the 6th and the 5th century BC but there was a mathematical problem regarding the position of the triglyphs, which couldn't be solved without changing the original forms. The order was almost abandoned for the Ionic order, but the Ionic capital also posed an insoluble problem at the corner of a temple. Both orders were abandoned for the Corinthian order gradually during the Hellenistic age and under Rome.
The most important temples are:
Apollo appears often in the myths, plays and hymns. As Zeus' favorite son, Apollo had direct access to the mind of Zeus and was willing to reveal this knowledge to humans. A divinity beyond human comprehension, he appears both as a beneficial and a wrathful god.
When Zeus' wife Hera discovered that Leto was impregnanted by Zeus, she banned Leto from giving birth on terra firma. In her wanderings, Leto sought shelter on many lands, only to be rejected by them. Finally, Apollo, still in Leto's womb, spoke to his mother and told her about the newly created floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island. Leto, when welcomed by Delos, gave birth there, clinging to a palm tree.
It is also stated that Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go by offering her a necklace of amber 9 yards or 8.2 meters long.
When Apollo was born clutching a golden sword, the swans circled Delos seven times and the nymphs sang in delight. Soon after he was born, he was washed clean by the goddesses and was covered in white garment, with golden bands fastened around him. Since Leto was unable to feed the new born, Themis, the goddess of divine law, fed him the nectar, or ambrosia. Upon tasting the divine food, Apollo broke free of the bands fastened onto him and declared that he would be the master of lyre and archery, and interpret the will of Zeus to humankind.
Apollo was a precocious child. Even before he was born, in anger he had foretold the fate of Niobe and the death of Python during Leto's wanderings. Leto was accepted by the people of Delos and she promised them that her son would be always favorable towards the city. Afterwards, Zeus secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later became sacred to Apollo.
Apollo was born on the seventh day (, hebdomagenes) of the month Thargelion --according to Delian tradition--or of the month Bysios--according to Delphian tradition. The seventh and twentieth, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him. Mythographers agree that Artemis was born first and subsequently assisted with the birth of Apollo, or that Artemis was born on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.
As a child, Apollo is said to have built a foundation and an altar on Delos using the horns of the goats that his sister Artemis hunted. Since he learnt the art of building when young, he later became Archegetes, the founder of towns and god who guided men to build new cities.
In his young years when Zeus had ignored him, Apollo spent his time herding cows. There, he was reared by Thriae, the bee nymphs, who trained him and enhanced his prophetic skills. During this time, Apollo also invented the lyre, and along with Artemis, the art of archery. He then taught to the humans the art of healing and archery.Phoebe, his grandmother, gave the oracular shrine of Delphi to Apollo as a birthday gift. Themis inspired him to be the oracular voice of Delphi thereon.
Later, with his bow and arrows that he had received from Hephaestus, Apollo went in search of the chthonic dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian Spring, and was a terror to the people. Hera had sent this serpent to hunt the pregnant Leto to her death across the world. To avenge the trouble given to his mother, Apollo killed Python in the sacred cave at Delphi with his arrows. Even though he had freed the people from a great bane, Python was a child of Gaia. Zeus, not wanting to incur her anger, decided to punished Apollo.
Zeus banned Apollo from Olympus, and told him to purify himself. Exiled, Apollo had to serve as a slave for nine years. He also travelled to Crete, where Carmanor performed purification rites on him. Further, Zeus ordered him to go to the Vale of Tempe and bath in waters of Peneus. Apollo later established the Pythian games to appropriate Gaia. Only after this, he was given his place on Olympus. Henceforth, Apollo became the god who cleansed himself from the sin of murder and, made men aware of their guilt and purified them.
Zeus, for his son's integrity, gave Apollo the seat next to him on his right side. He also gifted to Apollo a golden tripod, bow and arrows, a golden chariot drawn by swans and the land of Delphi.
Soon after his return, Apollo needed to recruit people to Delphi. So, when he spotted a ship sailing from Crete, he sprang aboard in the form of a dolphin. The crew was awed into submission and followed a course that led the ship to Delphi. There Apollo revealed himself as a god. Initiating them to his service, he instructed them to keep righteousness in their hearts. The Pythia was Apollo's high priestess and his mouthpiece through whom he gave prophecies. Pythia is arguably the constant favorite of Apollo among the mortals.
Hera once again sent another giant, Tityos to rape Leto. This time Apollo shot him with his arrows and attacked him with his golden sword. According to variations, Artemis aided in protecting their mother by attacking with her arrows. After the battle Zeus finally relented his aid and hurled Tityos down to Tartarus. There, he was pegged to the rock floor, covering an area of 9 acres (36,000 m2), where a pair of vultures feasted daily on his liver.
Once Apollo, along with Athena and Poseidon, participated in Hera's scheme to hold Zeus captive and demand a better rule from him. This was unsuccessful and Zeus, feeling beatryed, sent Apollo and Poseidon to serve as slaves under the Trojan king Laomedon. According to varied version, both gods went to test Laomedon. Apollo guarded the cattle of Laomedon in the valleys of mount Ida, while Poseidon built the walls of Troy. There, Apollo had a lover named Ourea, and sired a son Ileus by her.
Later, Apollo was also compelled by Laomedon to build the walls. Apollo obeyed, and by playing on his lyre, he built the walls of Troy. However, the king refused to give them the wages he had promised. Angered, Apollo sent a pestilence to the city. To deliver the city from it, Laomedon had to sacrifice his daughter Hesione (who would later be saved by Heracles).
Apollo sided with the Trojans during the Trojan war, a war waged by the Greeks against the Trojans.
During the war, Agamemnon, a Greek hero captured Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo's priest Chryses. Angered, Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment. He demanded to return the girl, and the Achaeans (Greeks) complied, indirectly causing the anger of Achilles, which is the theme of the Iliad.
Receiving the aegis from Zeus, Apollo entered the battlefield, causing great terror to the enemy with his war cry, pushing them back and destroying many of them. He is described as "the rouser of armies", because he rallied the Trojan army when they were falling apart.
When Zeus allowed the other gods to get involved in the war, Apollo was provoked by Poseidon to a duel. However, Apollo declined to fight him, saying that he wouldn't fight his uncle for the sake of mortals.
When Diomedes, the Greek hero, injured Aeneas, a Trojan ally, Aphrodite tried to rescue him but Diomedes injured her as well. Apollo then enveloped Aeneas in a cloud to protect him. He repelled the attacks Diomedes made on him and gave the hero a stern warning to abstain himself from attacking a god. Aeneas was then taken to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy, where he was healed.
After the death of Sarpedon, a son of Zeus, Apollo rescued the corpse from the battlefield as per his father's wish and cleaned it. He then gave it to Sleep (Hypnos) and Death (Thanatos). Apollo had also once convinced Athena to stop the war for that day, so that the warriors can relieve themselves for a while.
The Trojan hero Hector was favored by Apollo, who, according to some, was the god's own son by Hecuba. When he got injured, Apollo healed him and encouraged him to take up the arms. During a duel with Achilles, when Hector was about to lose, Apollo hid Hector in a cloud of mist to save him. At last, after Hector's fated death, Apollo protected his corpse from Achilles' attempt to mutilate it by creating a magical cloud over the corpse.
The Greek warrior Patroclus tried to get into the fort of Troy and was stopped by Apollo. Encouraging Hector to attack Patroclus, Apollo stripped the armour of Patroclus and broke his weapons. Patroclus was eventually killed by Hector.
Apollo held anger towards Achilles throughout the war. The reason for this was the murder of his son Tenes before the war began, and brutal assassination of his another son Troilus in his own temple, both by Achilles. Not only did Apollo save Hector from Achilles, he also tricked Achilles by disguising himself as a Trojan warrior and driving him away from the gates. He foiled Achilles' attempt to mutilate Hector's dead body.
Apollo helped many Trojan warriors, including Agenor, Polydamas, Glaucus in the battlefield. Though he greatly favored the Trojans, Apollo was bound to follow the orders of Zeus and served his father loyally during the war.
When Zeus struck down Apollo's son Asclepius with a lightning bolt for resurrecting the dead, Apollo in revenge killed the Cyclopes, who had fashioned the bolt for Zeus. Apollo would have been banished to Tartarus forever for this, but his mother Leto intervened, and reminding Zeus of their old love, pleaded him not to kill their son. Zeus obliged and sentenced Apollo to one year of hard labor.
During this time he served as herdsman for King Admetus of Pherae in Thessaly. His mere presence is said to have made the cows give birth to twins. Apollo shared a romantic relationship with Admetus during his stay. Admetus treated Apollo well, and, in return, the god conferred great benefits on Admetus. Out of love and gratitude, Apollo helped Admetus win Alcestis, the daughter of King Pelias and later convinced, or tricked the Fates to let Admetus live past his time.
The fate of Niobe was prophesied by Apollo while he was still in Leto's womb. Niobe was the queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion. She displayed hubris when she boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. She further mocked Apollo's effeminate appearance and Artemis' manly appearance. Leto, insulted by this, told her children to punish Niobe. Accordingly, Apollo killed Niobe's sons, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions of the myth, among the Niobids, Chloris and her brother Amyclas were not killed because they prayed to Leto. Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge.
A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylos in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.
When Odysseus, with the help of Athena, attacked the Bryges (backed by Ares), he lost. This caused Athena and Ares to enter into a direct duel. Their fight continued until Apollo intervened between the war siblings and resolved the conflict.
When Heracles tried to steal the Delphic tripod to start his own Oracle, he was stopped by Apollo. A duel ensued between Apollo and Heracles where Athena supported the latter. Soon, Zeus intervened to stop the fight and punished Heracles for his act.
When the Argonauts were facing a terrible storm, Jason prayed to his patron, Apollo, to help them. Apollo used his his bow and golden arrow to shed light upon the island Anafi, where the Argonauts soon took shelter.
Apollo helped the Greek hero, Diomedes, to escape from a great tempest. As a token of gratitude, Diomedes built a temple in honor of Apollo Epibaterius, Apollo the embarker.
Periphas, a noble king, was honoured to the same extent as Zeus by mortals. Due to this Zeus wished to destroy him. But Apollo requested his father not to do so, since Periphas was a virtuous man. Zeus agreed and metamorphosed Periphas into an eagle and made the eagle his companion.
Apollo spoke to Zeus regarding Prometheus, the titan who was punished by Zeus for stealing fire. Apollo, with tears in his eyes, pleaded Zeus to release the kind Titan. Zeus, moved by Apollo's words and the tears of Artemis and Leto, sent Heracles to free Prometheus.
Chiron, the abandoned centaur was fostered by Apollo who instructed him in medicine, prophecy, archery and more. Chiron's calm nature and wisdom, in contrast to rest of the centaurs, is attributed to the education Apollo gave him.
Anius, Apollo's son by Rhoeo, was abandoned by his mother. Apollo brought him up and educated him. Anius later became the priest of Apollo and the king of Delos. In a similar fashion, he had educated his sons Idmon and Iamus (by taking him to Olympia).
Apollo saved a shepherd (name unknown) from death in a large deep cave, by the means of vultures. To thank him, the shepherd built Apollo a temple under the name Vulturius.
Apollo guided Aphrodite to his sanctuary when she was grief-stricken with Adonis' death. He helped her free herself from the heartbreak.
Apollo divides months into summer and winter. He rides on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans during the winter months, and the absence of warmth in winters is due to his departure. During his absence, Delphi was under the care of Dionysus, and no prophecies were given during winters.
Apollo's music is soulful and enchanting. His music would deliver people from their pain, and hence, like Dionysus, he is also called the liberator.
Apollo is often seen as the companion of the Muses and as Musagetes, he leads them into dance while he sang. He is found delighting the immortal gods with his songs and music on the lyre. Apollo and the Muses are often seen on Parnassus, which is one of their favorite spots.
The invention of lyre is attributed either to Hermes or to Apollo himself. Distinctions have been made that Hermes invented lyre made of tortoise shell, where as the lyre Apollo invented was a regular lyre.
Myths tell that the infant Hermes stole a number of Apollo's cows and took them to a cave in the woods near Pylos, covering their tracks. In the cave, he found a tortoise and killed it, then removed the insides. He used one of the cow's intestines and the tortoise shell and made his lyre.
Upon discovering the theft, Apollo confronted Hermes and asked him to return his cattle. When Hermes acted innocent, Apollo took the matter to Zeus. Zeus, having seen the events, sided with Apollo, and ordered Hermes to return the cattle. Hermes then began to play music on the lyre he had invented. Apollo, a god of music, fell in love with the instrument and offered to allow exchange of the cattle for the lyre. Hence, Apollo then became a master of the lyre.
According to other versions, Apollo had invented the lyre himself, whose strings he tore in repent to the excess punishment he had given to Marsyas. Hermes' lyre, therefore, is rather a reinvention.
Apollo participated in musical contests when challenged by others. He was the victor in all the contests, but usually punished his opponents severely for their hubris.
Once Pan had the audacity to compare his music with that of Apollo and to challenge Apollo, the god of music. The mountain-god Tmolus was chosen to umpire. Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower, Midas, who happened to be present. Then Apollo struck the strings of his lyre. It was so beautiful that Tmolus at once awarded the victory to Apollo, and everyone were pleased with the judgement. Only Midas dissented and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer, and caused them to become the ears of a donkey.
He had found an aulos on the ground, tossed away after being invented by Athena because it made her cheeks puffy. Athena had also placed a curse upon the instrument, that whoever would pick it up would be severely punished. When Marsyas played the flute, everyone became frenzied with joy. This led Marsyas to think that he was better than Apollo, and he challenged the god to a musical contest. The contest was judged by the Muses. The contestants agreed to the rule that the victor can do anything with the loser.
After they each performed, both were deemed equal until Apollo decreed they play and sing at the same time. Marsyas argued against this, saying that Apollo would have an advantage. But Apollo presented the counterpoint that since Marsyas played the flute, which needed air blown from the throat, it was same as singing. The judges agreed with Apollo. Apollo played his lyre and sang at the same time, mesmerising the audience. Marsyas could not do this, as he only knew how to use the flute and not singing. Apollo was declared the winner because of this.
According to some, Marsyas played his flute out of tune at one point and accepted his defeat. Out of shame, he assigned to himself the punishment of being skinned for a wine sack. Another variation is that Apollo played his instrument (the lyre) upside down. Marsyas could not do this with his instrument (the flute), and so Apollo hung him from a tree to flay him alive.
Apollo flayed Marsyas alive in a cave near Celaenae in Phrygia for his hubris to challenge a god. He then nailed Marsyas' shaggy skin to a nearby pine-tree. Marsyas' blood turned into the river Marsyas. But, as an act of repent and purification for killing Marsyas, he tore the strings of his lyre. Staying away from music for a long time, he isolated himself and wandered with Cybele till he reached Hyperborea, his mother's native.
Cinyras was a ruler of Cyprus, who was a friend of Agamemnon. Cinyras promised to assist Agamemnon in the Trojan war, but did not keep his promise. Agamemnon cursed Cinyras. He invoked Apollo and asked the god to avenge the broken promise. Apollo then had a lyre-playing contest with Cinyras, and defeated him. Either Cinyras committed suicide when he lost, or was killed by Apollo.
Love affairs ascribed to Apollo are a late development in Greek mythology. Their vivid anecdotal qualities have made some of them favorites of painters since the Renaissance, the result being that they stand out more prominently in the modern imagination.
Daphne was a nymph whose parentage varies. She scorned Apollo's adavnces and ran away from him. When Apollo chased her in order to persuade her, she changed herself into a laurel tree. According to other versions, she cried for help during the chase, and Gaea helped her by taking her in and placing a laurel tree in her place. According to Roman poet Ovid, the chase was brought about by Cupid, who hit Apollo with golden arrow of love and Daphne with leaden arrow of hatred. The myth explains the origin of the laurel and connection of Apollo with the laurel and it's leaves, which his priestess employed at Delphi. The leaves became the symbol of victory and laurel wreaths were given to the victors of the Pythian games.
Apollo is said to have been the lover of all nine Muses, and not being able to choose one of them, decided to remain unwed. He fathered the Corybantes by the Muse Thalia,Orpheus by Calliope, Linus of Thrace by Calliope or Urania and Hymenaios(Hymen) by either Terpsichore or Clio or Calliope.
Cyrene, was a Thessalian princess whom Apollo loved. In her honor, he built the city Cyrene and made her its ruler. She was later granted longevity by Apollo who turned her into a nymph. The couple had two sons, Aristaeus, and Idmon.
Rhoeo, a princess of the island of Naxos was loved by Apollo. Out of affection for her, Apollo turned her sisters into goddesses. On the island Delos she bore Apollo a son named Anius. Not wanting to have the child, she entrusted the infant to Apollo and left. Apollo raised and educated the child on his own.
Ourea, a daughter of Poseidon, fell in love with Apollo when he and Poseidon were serving the Trojan king Laomedon. They both united on the day the walls of Troy were built. She bore to Apollo a son, whom Apollo named Ileus, after the city of his birth, Ilion (Troy). Ileus was very dear to Apollo.
Thero, daughter of Phylas, a maiden as beautiful as the moonbeams, was loved by the radiant Apollo, and she loved him in return. By their union, she became mother of Chaeron, who was famed as "the tamer of horses". He later built the city Chaeronea.
Hecuba was the wife of King Priam of Troy, and Apollo had a son with her named Troilus. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilus reached the age of twenty alive. He was ambushed and killed by Achilleus, and Apollo avenged his death by killing Achilles.
Coronis, was daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths. While pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus and slept with him. When Apollo found out about her infidelity through his prophetic powers, he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis. Apollo rescued the baby by cutting open Koronis' belly and gave it to the centaur Chiron to raise.
In Euripides' play Ion, Apollo fathered Ion by Creusa, wife of Xuthus. He used his powers to conceal her pregnancy from her father. Later, when Creusa left Ion to die in the wild, Apollo asked Hermes to save the child and bring him to the oracle at Delphi, where he was raised by a priestess.
Hyacinth or Hyacinthus was Apollo's favorite lover. He was a Spartan prince, beautiful and athletic. The pair was practicing throwing the discus when the discus thrown by Apollo was blown off course by the jealous Zephyrus and struck Hyacinthus in the head, killing him instantly. Apollo is said to be filled with grief: out of Hyacinthus' blood, Apollo created a flower named after him as a memorial to his death, and his tears stained the flower petals with the interjection ?, meaning alas. He was later resurrected and taken to heaven. The festival Hyacinthia was a national celebration of Sparta, which commemorated the death and rebirth of Hyacinthus.
Another male lover was Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. Apollo gave him a tame deer as a companion but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. Cyparissus was so saddened by its death that he asked Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo granted the request by turning him into the Cypress named after him, which was said to be a sad tree because the sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk.
Admetus, the king of Pherae, was Apollo's another dear lover. During his exile, which lasted either for one year or nine years, Apollo served Admetus as a herdsman. Developing a passion for the king there, he herded and fed the cattle, and caused the cows to give birth to twin calves. He would make cheese and serve it to Admetus and was often seen being domestic, causing embarrassment to his family.
Oh how often his sister (Diana) blushed at meeting her brother as he carried a young calf through the fields!....often Latona lamented when she saw her son's disheveled locks which were admired even by Juno, his step-mother...
When Admetus wanted to marry princess Alcestis, Apollo provided a chariot pulled by a lion and a boar he had tamed. This satisfied Alcestis' father and he let Admetus marry his daughter. Further, Apollo saved the king from Artemis' wrath and also convinced the Moirai to postpone Admetus' death once.
Branchus, a shepherd, one day came across Apollo in the woods. Captivated by the god's beauty, he kissed Apollo. Apollo requited his affections and wanting to reward him, bestowed prophetic skills on him. His descendants, the Branchides, were an influential clan of prophets.
Other male lovers of Apollo include:
Apollo sired many children, from mortal women, nymphs as well as the goddesses. His children grew up to be physicians, musicians, poets, seers or archers. Many of his sons founded new cities and became kings. They were all usually very beautiful.
Asclepius is the most famous son of Apollo. Apollo brought the child into the world by performing cesarean. His skills as a physician surpassed that of Apollo's. Zeus killed him for bringing back the dead, but later upon Apollo's request, he was resurrected as a god.
Aristaeus, the son of Apollo and Cyrene, was placed under the care of Chiron after his birth. He became the god of beekeeping, cheese making, animal husbandry and more. He was ultimately given immortality for the benefits he bestowed upon the humanity.
Apollo fathered 3 daughters, Nete, Mese, Hypate, who formed a minor group of Muses, the "Musa Apollonides". They were worshipped at Apollo's shrine in Delphi and are named after the highest, middle and lowest strings of his lyre. His other daughters are Phemonoe (the poetess and seer), Eriopis (known for her lovely hair), Pamphile (silk weaver), Phoebe and Hilyra (the wives of Dioscuri), Parthenos (turned into a constellation upon her death) and by some accounts, Scylla.
Additionally, Apollo fostered and educated Chiron, the centaur who later became the greatest teacher and educated many demigods, including Apollo's sons. Apollo also fostered Carnus, the son of Zeus and Europa.
Sinope, a nymph, was approached by the amorous Apollo. She made him promise that he would grant to her whatever she would ask for, and then cleverly asked him to let her stay a virgin. Apollo kept his promise and went back.
Bolina was admired by Apollo but she refused him and jumped into the sea. To avoid her death, Apollo turned her into a nymph and let her go.
Castalia was a nymph whom Apollo loved. She fled from him and dove into the spring at Delphi, at the base of Mt. Parnassos, which was then named after her. Water from this spring was sacred; it was used to clean the Delphian temples and inspire the priestesses.
Cassandra, was a daughter of Hecuba and Priam. Apollo wished to court her. Cassandra promised to return his love on one condition - he should give her the power to see the future. Apollo fulfilled her wish, but she went back on her word and rejected him soon after. Angered that she broke her promise, Apollo cursed her that even though she would see the future, no one would ever believe her prophecies.
Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, rejected both Apollo's and Poseidon's marriage proposals and swore that she would always stay unmarried.
|Consort||Children||Consort||Children||Loved / Wooed|
|Acacallis||Amphithemis (Garamas)||Hypermnestra||Amphiaraus||Amphissa / Isse|
|Aethusa||Eleuther||Melaina||Delphus||Hestia (wooed her unsuccessfully)|
|Astycome, nymph||Eumolpus (possibly)||Parthenope||Lycomedes|
|Arsinoe||Asclepius (possibly)||Philonis||Philammon||Unknown consorts|
|Eriopis||Phthia||Dorus||Acraepheus, eponym of the city Acraephia|
|Linus||Procleia||Tenes||Marathus, eponym of Marathon|
|Celaeno||Delphus||Rhetia, nymph||The Corybantes||Melaneus|
|Chrysorthe||Coronus||Rhodoessa, nymph||Ceos ||Phemonoe|
|Chrysothemis||Parthenos||Rhodope||Cicon ||Pisus, founder of Pisa in Etruria|
|Coryceia||Lycorus (Lycoreus)||Stilbe||Centaurus||o Cephisso|
|Idmon||Syllis / Hyllis||Zeuxippus|
|Autuchus||Thaleia||The Corybantes||Male Lovers|
|Danais, Cretan nymph||The Curetes||Themisto||Galeotes||Adonis|
|Dia||Dryops||Thero||Chaeron||Hippolytus of Sicyon|
|Evadne||Iamus||Ourea, daughter of Poseidon||Ileus||Phorbas|
|Hecate||Scylla||Wife of Erginus||Trophonius|
Artemis as the sister of Apollo, is thea apollousa, that is, she as a female divinity represented the same idea that Apollo did as a male divinity. In the pre-Hellenic period, their relationship was described as the one between husband and wife, and there seems to have been a tradition which actually described Artemis as the wife of Apollo. However, this relationship was never sexual but spiritual, which is why they both are seen being unmarried in the Hellenic period.
Artemis, like her brother, is armed with a bow and arrows. She is the cause of sudden deaths of women. She also is the protector of the young, especially girls. Though she has nothing to do with oracles, music or poetry, she sometimes led the female chorus on Olympus while Apollo sang. The laurel was sacred to both. Artemis Daphnaia had her temple among the Lacedemonians, at a place called Hypsoi. In later times when Apollo was regarded as identical with the sun or Helios, Artemis was naturally regarded as Selene or the moon. The Laurel was sacred to both. Apollo Daphnephoros had a temple in Eretria, a "place where the citizens are to take the oaths.
Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and magic, is the chthonic counterpart of Apollo. They both are cousins, since their mothers - Leto and Asteria - are sisters. One of Apollo's epithets, Hecatos, is the masculine form of Hecate, and both the names mean "working from afar". While Apollo presided over the prophetic powers and magic of light and heaven, Hecate presided over the prophetic powers and magic of night and chthonian darkness. If Hecate is the "gate-keeper", Apollo Agyieus is the "door-keeper". Hecate is the goddess of crossroads and Apollo is the god and protector of streets.
The oldest evidence found for Hecate's worship is at Apollo's temple in Miletos. There, Hecate was taken to be Apollo's sister counterpart in the absence of Artemis. Hecate's lunar nature makes her the goddess of the waning moon and contrats and complements, at the same time, Apollo's solar nature.
As a deity of knowledge and great power, Apollo was seen being the male counterpart of Athena. Being Zeus' favorite children, they were given more powers and duties. Apollo and Athena often took up the role as protectors of cities, and were patrons of some of the important cities. Athena was the principle goddess of Athens, Apollo was the principle god of Sparta.
As patrons of arts, Apollo and Athena were companions of the Muses, the former a much more frequent companion than the latter. Apollo was sometimes called the son of Athena and Hephaestus due to his wise and artistic nature.
In the Trojan war, as Zeus' executive, Apollo is seen holding the aegis like Athena usually does. Apollo's decisions were usually approved by his sister Athena, and they both worked to establish the law and order set forth by Zeus.
In Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Clytemnestra kills her husband, King Agamemnon because he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to proceed forward with the Trojan war. Apollo gives an order through the Oracle at Delphi that Agamemnon's son, Orestes, is to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, her lover. Orestes and Pylades carry out the revenge, and consequently Orestes is pursued by the Erinyes or Furies (female personifications of vengeance).
Apollo and the Furies argue about whether the matricide was justified; Apollo holds that the bond of marriage is sacred and Orestes was avenging his father, whereas the Erinyes say that the bond of blood between mother and son is more meaningful than the bond of marriage. They invade his temple, and he drives them away. He says that the matter should be brought before Athena. Apollo promises to protect Orestes, as Orestes has become Apollo's supplicant. Apollo advocates Orestes at the trial, and ultimately Athena rules in favor of Apollo.
The Roman worship of Apollo was adopted from the Greeks. As a quintessentially Greek god, Apollo had no direct Roman equivalent, although later Roman poets often referred to him as Phoebus. There was a tradition that the Delphic oracle was consulted as early as the period of the kings of Rome during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus.
On the occasion of a pestilence in the 430s BCE, Apollo's first temple at Rome was established in the Flaminian fields, replacing an older cult site there known as the "Apollinare". During the Second Punic War in 212 BCE, the Ludi Apollinares ("Apollonian Games") were instituted in his honor, on the instructions of a prophecy attributed to one Marcius. In the time of Augustus, who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said to be his son, his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of Rome.
After the battle of Actium, which was fought near a sanctuary of Apollo, Augustus enlarged Apollo's temple, dedicated a portion of the spoils to him, and instituted quinquennial games in his honour. He also erected a new temple to the god on the Palatine hill. Sacrifices and prayers on the Palatine to Apollo and Diana formed the culmination of the Secular Games, held in 17 BCE to celebrate the dawn of a new era.
The chief Apollonian festival was the Pythian Games held every four years at Delphi and was one of the four great Panhellenic Games. Also of major importance was the Delia held every four years on Delos. Athenian annual festivals included the Boedromia, Metageitnia,Pyanepsia, and Thargelia. Spartan annual festivals were the Carneia and the Hyacinthia. Thebes every nine years held the Daphnephoria.
Apollo's most common attributes were the bow and arrow. Other attributes of his included the kithara (an advanced version of the common lyre), the plectrum and the sword. Another common emblem was the sacrificial tripod, representing his prophetic powers. The Pythian Games were held in Apollo's honor every four years at Delphi. The bay laurel plant was used in expiatory sacrifices and in making the crown of victory at these games.
The palm tree was also sacred to Apollo because he had been born under one in Delos. Animals sacred to Apollo included wolves, dolphins, roe deer, swans, cicadas (symbolizing music and song), hawks, ravens, crows, snakes (referencing Apollo's function as the god of prophecy), mice and griffins, mythical eagle-lion hybrids of Eastern origin.
As god of colonization, Apollo gave oracular guidance on colonies, especially during the height of colonization, 750-550 BCE. According to Greek tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists found the city of Troy. However, this story may reflect a cultural influence which had the reverse direction: Hittite cuneiform texts mention a Minor Asian god called Appaliunas or Apalunas in connection with the city of Wilusa attested in Hittite inscriptions, which is now generally regarded as being identical with the Greek Ilion by most scholars. In this interpretation, Apollo's title of Lykegenes can simply be read as "born in Lycia", which effectively severs the god's supposed link with wolves (possibly a folk etymology).
In literary contexts, Apollo represents harmony, order, and reason--characteristics contrasted with those of Dionysus, god of wine, who represents ecstasy and disorder. The contrast between the roles of these gods is reflected in the adjectives Apollonian and Dionysian. However, the Greeks thought of the two qualities as complementary: the two gods are brothers, and when Apollo at winter left for Hyperborea, he would leave the Delphic oracle to Dionysus. This contrast appears to be shown on the two sides of the Borghese Vase.
Apollo is a common theme in Greek and Roman art and also in the art of the Renaissance. The earliest Greek word for a statue is "delight" (, agalma), and the sculptors tried to create forms which would inspire such guiding vision. Greek art puts into Apollo the highest degree of power and beauty that can be imagined. The sculptors derived this from observations on human beings, but they also embodied in concrete form, issues beyond the reach of ordinary thought.
The naked bodies of the statues are associated with the cult of the body that was essentially a religious activity. The muscular frames and limbs combined with slim waists indicate the Greek desire for health, and the physical capacity which was necessary in the hard Greek environment. The statues of Apollo embody beauty, balance and inspire awe before the beauty of the world.
The evolution of the Greek sculpture can be observed in his depictions from the almost static formal Kouros type in early archaic period, to the representation of motion in a relative harmonious whole in late archaic period. In classical Greece the emphasis is not given to the illusive imaginative reality represented by the ideal forms, but to the analogies and the interaction of the members in the whole, a method created by Polykleitos. Finally Praxiteles seems to be released from any art and religious conformities, and his masterpieces are a mixture of naturalism with stylization.
The evolution of the Greek art seems to go parallel with the Greek philosophical conceptions, which changed from the natural-philosophy of Thales to the metaphysical theory of Pythagoras. Thales searched for a simple material-form directly perceptible by the senses, behind the appearances of things, and his theory is also related to the older animism. This was paralleled in sculpture by the absolute representation of vigorous life, through unnaturally simplified forms.
Pythagoras believed that behind the appearance of things, there was the permanent principle of mathematics, and that the forms were based on a transcendental mathematical relation. The forms on earth, are imperfect imitations (?, eikones, "images") of the celestial world of numbers. His ideas had a great influence on post-Archaic art. The Greek architects and sculptors were always trying to find the mathematical relation, that would lead to the esthetic perfection. (canon).
In classical Greece, Anaxagoras asserted that a divine reason (mind) gave order to the seeds of the universe, and Plato extended the Greek belief of ideal forms to his metaphysical theory of forms (ideai, "ideas"). The forms on earth are imperfect duplicates of the intellectual celestial ideas. The Greek words oida (?, "(I) know") and eidos (, "species"), a thing seen, have the same root as the word idea (?), a thing to see. indicating how the Greek mind moved from the gift of the senses, to the principles beyond the senses. The artists in Plato's time moved away from his theories and art tends to be a mixture of naturalism with stylization. The Greek sculptors considered the senses more important, and the proportions were used to unite the sensible with the intellectual.
Kouros (male youth) is the modern term given to those representations of standing male youths which first appear in the archaic period in Greece. This type served certain religious needs and was first proposed for what was previously thought to be depictions of Apollo. The first statues are certainly still and formal. The formality of their stance seems to be related with the Egyptian precedent, but it was accepted for a good reason. The sculptors had a clear idea of what a young man is, and embodied the archaic smile of good manners, the firm and springy step, the balance of the body, dignity, and youthful happiness. When they tried to depict the most abiding qualities of men, it was because men had common roots with the unchanging gods. The adoption of a standard recognizable type for a long time, is probably because nature gives preference in survival of a type which has long be adopted by the climatic conditions, and also due to the general Greek belief that nature expresses itself in ideal forms that can be imagined and represented. These forms expressed immortality. Apollo was the immortal god of ideal balance and order. His shrine in Delphi, that he shared in winter with Dionysius had the inscriptions: ? (gn?thi seautón="know thyself") and ? (m?dén ágan, "nothing in excess"), and ? ?' (eggýa pára d'at?, "make a pledge and mischief is nigh").
In the first large-scale depictions during the early archaic period (640-580 BC), the artists tried to draw one's attention to look into the interior of the face and the body which were not represented as lifeless masses, but as being full of life. The Greeks maintained, until late in their civilization, an almost animistic idea that the statues are in some sense alive. This embodies the belief that the image was somehow the god or man himself. A fine example is the statue of the Sacred Gate Kouros which was found at the cemetery of Dipylon in Athens (Dipylon Kouros). The statue is the "thing in itself", and his slender face with the deep eyes express an intellectual eternity. According to the Greek tradition the Dipylon master was named Daedalus, and in his statues the limbs were freed from the body, giving the impression that the statues could move. It is considered that he created also the New York kouros, which is the oldest fully preserved statue of Kouros type, and seems to be the incarnation of the god himself.
The animistic idea as the representation of the imaginative reality, is sanctified in the Homeric poems and in Greek myths, in stories of the god Hephaestus (Phaistos) and the mythic Daedalus (the builder of the labyrinth) that made images which moved of their own accord. This kind of art goes back to the Minoan period, when its main theme was the representation of motion in a specific moment. These free-standing statues were usually marble, but also the form rendered in limestone, bronze, ivory and terracotta.
The earliest examples of life-sized statues of Apollo, may be two figures from the Ionic sanctuary on the island of Delos. Such statues were found across the Greek speaking world, the preponderance of these were found at the sanctuaries of Apollo with more than one hundred from the sanctuary of Apollo Ptoios, Boeotia alone. The last stage in the development of the Kouros type is the late archaic period (520-485 BC), in which the Greek sculpture attained a full knowledge of human anatomy and used to create a relative harmonious whole. Ranking from the very few bronzes survived to us is the masterpiece bronze Piraeus Apollo. It was found in Piraeus, the harbour of Athens. The statue originally held the bow in its left hand, and a cup of pouring libation in its right hand. It probably comes from north-eastern Peloponnesus. The emphasis is given in anatomy, and it is one of the first attempts to represent a kind of motion, and beauty relative to proportions, which appear mostly in post-Archaic art. The statue throws some light on an artistic centre which, with an independently developed harder, simpler and heavier style, restricts Ionian influence in Athens. Finally, this is the germ from which the art of Polykleitos was to grow two or three generations later.
At the beginning of the Classical period, it was considered that beauty in visible things as in everything else, consisted of symmetry and proportions. The artists tried also to represent motion in a specific moment (Myron), which may be considered as the reappearance of the dormant Minoan element. Anatomy and geometry are fused in one, and each does something to the other. The Greek sculptors tried to clarify it by looking for mathematical proportions, just as they sought some reality behind appearances. Polykleitos in his Canon wrote that beauty consists in the proportion not of the elements (materials), but of the parts, that is the interrelation of parts with one another and with the whole. It seems that he was influenced by the theories of Pythagoras. The famous Apollo of Mantua and its variants are early forms of the Apollo Citharoedus statue type, in which the god holds the cithara in his left arm. The type is represented by neo-Attic Imperial Roman copies of the late 1st or early 2nd century, modelled upon a supposed Greek bronze original made in the second quarter of the 5th century BCE, in a style similar to works of Polykleitos but more archaic. The Apollo held the cythara against his extended left arm, of which in the Louvre example, a fragment of one twisting scrolling horn upright remains against his biceps.
Though the proportions were always important in Greek art, the appeal of the Greek sculptures eludes any explanation by proportion alone. The statues of Apollo were thought to incarnate his living presence, and these representations of illusive imaginative reality had deep roots in the Minoan period, and in the beliefs of the first Greek speaking people who entered the region during the bronze-age. Just as the Greeks saw the mountains, forests, sea and rivers as inhabited by concrete beings, so nature in all of its manifestations possesses clear form, and the form of a work of art. Spiritual life is incorporated in matter, when it is given artistic form. Just as in the arts the Greeks sought some reality behind appearances, so in mathematics they sought permanent principles which could be applied wherever the conditions were the same. Artists and sculptors tried to find this ideal order in relation with mathematics, but they believed that this ideal order revealed itself not so much to the dispassionate intellect, as to the whole sentient self. Things as we see them, and as they really are, are one, that each stresses the nature of the other in a single unity.
In the archaic pediments and friezes of the temples, the artists had a problem to fit a group of figures into an isosceles triangle with acute angles at the base.
The Siphnian Treasury in Delphi was one of the first Greek buildings utilizing the solution to put the dominating form in the middle, and to complete the descending scale of height with other figures sitting or kneeling. The pediment shows the story of Heracles stealing Apollo's tripod that was strongly associated with his oracular inspiration. Their two figures hold the centre. In the pediment of the temple of Zeus in Olympia, the single figure of Apollo is dominating the scene.
These representations rely on presenting scenes directly to the eye for their own visible sake. They care for the schematic arrangements of bodies in space, but only as parts in a larger whole. While each scene has its own character and completeness it must fit into the general sequence to which it belongs. In these archaic pediments the sculptors use empty intervals, to suggest a passage to and from a busy battlefield. The artists seem to have been dominated by geometrical pattern and order, and this was improved when classical art brought a greater freedom and economy.
Apollo as a handsome beardless young man, is often depicted with a kithara (as Apollo Citharoedus) or bow in his hand, or reclining on a tree (the Apollo Lykeios and Apollo Sauroctonos types). The Apollo Belvedere is a marble sculpture that was rediscovered in the late 15th century; for centuries it epitomized the ideals of Classical Antiquity for Europeans, from the Renaissance through the 19th century. The marble is a Hellenistic or Roman copy of a bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares, made between 350 and 325 BCE.
The life-size so-called "Adonis" found in 1780 on the site of a villa suburbana near the Via Labicana in the Roman suburb of Centocelle is identified as an Apollo by modern scholars. In the late 2nd century CE floor mosaic from El Djem, Roman Thysdrus, he is identifiable as Apollo Helios by his effulgent halo, though now even a god's divine nakedness is concealed by his cloak, a mark of increasing conventions of modesty in the later Empire.
Another haloed Apollo in mosaic, from Hadrumentum, is in the museum at Sousse. The conventions of this representation, head tilted, lips slightly parted, large-eyed, curling hair cut in locks grazing the neck, were developed in the 3rd century BCE to depict Alexander the Great. Some time after this mosaic was executed, the earliest depictions of Christ would also be beardless and haloed.
Apollo has often featured in postclassical art and literature. Percy Bysshe Shelley composed a "Hymn of Apollo" (1820), and the god's instruction of the Muses formed the subject of Igor Stravinsky's Apollon musagète (1927-1928). In 1978, the Canadian band Rush released an album with songs "Apollo: Bringer of Wisdom"/"Dionysus: Bringer of Love".
In discussion of the arts, a distinction is sometimes made between the Apollonian and Dionysian impulses where the former is concerned with imposing intellectual order and the latter with chaotic creativity. Friedrich Nietzsche argued that a fusion of the two was most desirable. Carl Jung's Apollo archetype represents what he saw as the disposition in people to over-intellectualise and maintain emotional distance.
Charles Handy, in Gods of Management (1978) uses Greek gods as a metaphor to portray various types of organisational culture. Apollo represents a 'role' culture where order, reason, and bureaucracy prevail.
|Apollo's family tree |
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