Apollo - God of the Sun and Music

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Apollo - God of the Sun and Music

Post  rose on Wed 19 Mar 2008, 10:43 pm

Apollo is considered to have dominion over plague, light, healing, colonists, medicine, archery, poetry, prophecy, dance, reason, intellectualism, Shamans, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. Apollo had a famous oracle in Crete and other notable ones in Clarus and Branchidae.

Apollo is known as the leader of the Muses ("musagetes") and director of their choir. His attributes include: swans, wolves, dolphins, bows and arrows, a laurel crown, the cithara (or lyre) and plectrum. The sacrificial tripod is another attribute, representative of his prophetic powers.

The Pythian Games were held in his honor every four years at Delphi. Paeans were the name of hymns sung to Apollo.

The most usual attributes of Apollo were the lyre and the bow; the tripod especially was dedicated to him as the god of prophecy. Among plants, the bay, used in expiatory sacrifices and also for making the crown of victory at the Pythian games, and the palm-tree, under which he was born in Delos, were sacred to him; among animals and birds, the wolf, the roe, the swan, the hawk, the raven, the crow, the snake, the mouse, the grasshopper and the griffin, a mixture of the eagle and the lion evidently of Eastern origin.

The swan and grasshopper symbolize music and song; the hawk, raven, crow and snake have reference to his functions as the god of prophecy.The chief festivals held in honour of Apollo were the Carneia, Daphnephoria, Delia, Hyacinthia, Pyanepsia, Pythia and Thargelia.

Among the Romans the worship of Apollo was adopted from the Greeks. There is a tradition that the Delphian oracle was consulted as early as the period of the kings during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, and in 430 a temple was dedicated to Apollo on the occasion of a pestilence, and during the Second Punic War (in 212) the Ludi Apollinares were instituted in his honour.

It was in the time of Augustus, who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said to be his son, that his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of Rome. After the battle of Actium, Augustus enlarged his old temple, dedicated a portion of the spoil to him, and instituted quinquennial games in his honour.

He also erected a new temple on the Palatine hill and transferred the secular games, for which Horace composed his Carmen Saeculare, to Apollo and Diana. As god of colonization, Apollo gave guidance on colonies, especially during the height of colonization, 750-550 BC. According to Greek tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists find 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, which is now regarded as being identical with the Greek Illios 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).Apollo popularly (e.g., in literary criticism) represents harmony, order, and reason - characteristics contrasted by those of Dionysus, god of wine, who popularly represents emotion and chaos.

The contrast between the roles of these gods is reflected in the adjectives Apollonian and Dionysian. However, 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 Delphi Oracle to Dionysus.

Together with Athena, Apollo (under the name Phevos) was controversially designated as a mascot of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.The worship of Apollo has revived with the rise of Hellenismos, and the contemporary Pagan movement. One example of this revival is the group, Kyklos Apollon.

Apollo Delphinios

A recent study published in 2005 by researchers at the University of Leicester has unravelled a 2,700 year old mystery concerning The Oracle of Delphi. In ancient times, the constellation Delphinus would have been rising in the eastern sky in late December and early January, the same time that some cities were sacrificing to Apollo Delphinios. In Delphi, this sacrifice took place about a month later. The researchers have confirmed that this is because the temple of Apollo at Delphi is overlooked by huge cliffs to the east. These block out the view of the lower part of the eastern sky, thus delaying the appropriate time of sacrifice for almost a full month compared to other cities on the greek plains.

Birth - When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. In her wanderings, Leto found the newly created floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island, and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. Afterwards, Zeus secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, 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, nine yards long, of amber. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. Apollo was born on the 7th day of the month Thargelion according to Delian tradition or of the month Bysios according to Delphian tradition. The 7th and 20th, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him.

Youth - In his youth, Apollo killed the vicious dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian Spring, according to some because Python had attempted to rape Leto while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis.This was the spring which emitted vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophesies. Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since Python was a child of Gaia.

Apollo and Admetus - As punishment, Apollo was banned from Olympus for nine years. During this time he served as shepherd or cowherd for King Admetus of Pherae in Thessaly. Since Admetus was good to Apollo, the god promised him that when time came for King Admetus to die, another would be allowed to take his place instead. Admetus then fell in love with Alcestis. Her father, though, King Pelias would only give permission if Admetus rode a chariot pulled by lions and boars and other wild animals. Apollo helped Admetus accomplish this, and the pair wed. When time came for Admetus to die, Alcestis agreed to die for him. Heracles intervened and both of the pair were allowed to live. When he returned after the nine years, Apollo came disguised as a dolphin and brought Cretan priests to help found his cult in Delphi. He also blessed the priestess of the Oracle at Delphi, making her one of the most famous and accurate oracles in Greece. He had other oracles, including Clarus and Branchidae.

Apollo During the Trojan War - Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment during the Trojan War in rage because the Greeks had kidnapped Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo's priest. He demanded her return, and the Greeks eventually complied. When Diomedes injured Aeneas during the Trojan War, Apollo rescued him. First, Aphrodite tried to rescue Aeneas but Diomedes injured her as well. Aeneas was then enveloped in a cloud by Apollo, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy. Artemis healed Aeneas there. Apollo had aided Paris in the killing of Achilles. If he did not accomplish the task himself.

Niobe - A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions of the myth, a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mt. Siplyon in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept, or committed suicide. 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.

Apollo's romantic life and children: Heterosexual relationships

Daphne - Apollo chased the nymph Daphne, daughter of Peneus, who had scorned him. His infatuation was caused by an arrow from Eros, who was jealous because Apollo had made fun of his archery skills. Eros also claimed to be irritated by Apollo's singing. Simultaneously, however, Eros had shot a hate arrow into Daphne, causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. Following a spirited chase by Apollo, Daphne prayed to Mother earth (alternatively, her father- a river god) to help her and he changed her into a Lauraceae tree, which became sacred to Apollo.

Leucothea - Apollo had an affair with a mortal princess named Leucothea, daughter of Orchamus and sister of Clytia. Leucothea loved Apollo who disguised himself as Leucothea's mother to gain entrance to her chambers. Clytia, jealous of her sister because she wanted Apollo for herself, told Orchamus the truth, betraying her sister's trust and confidence in her. Enraged, Orchamus ordered Leucothea to be buried alive. Apollo refused to forgive Clytia for betraying his beloved, and a grieving Clytia wilted and slowly died. Apollo changed her into an incense plant, either heliotrope or sunflower, which follows the sun every day.

Marpessa was kidnapped by Idas but was loved by Apollo as well. Zeus made her choose between them, and she chose Idas on the grounds that Apollo, being immortal, would tire of her when she grew old.

Castalia was a nymph whom Apollo loved. She fled from him and dived 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 poets.

By Cyrene, Apollo had a son named Aristaeus, who became the patron god of cattle, fruit trees, hunting, husbandry and bee-keeping. He was also a culture-hero and taught humanity dairy skills and the use of nets and traps in hunting, as well as how to cultivate olives.

With Hecuba, wife of King Priam of Troy, Apollo had a son named Troilius. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilius reached the age of twenty alive. He and his sister, Polyxena were ambushed and killed by Achilles.

Cassandra - Apollo also fell in love with Cassandra, daughter of Hecuba and Priam, and Troilius' half-sister. He promised Cassandra the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but she rejected him afterwards. Enraged, Apollo indeed gifted her with the ability to know the future, with a curse that no one would ever believe her.
Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths, was another of Apollo's liaisons. Pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus. A crow informed Apollo of the affair. When first informed he disbelieved the crow and turned all crows black (where they were previously white) as a punishment for speading untruths. When he found out the truth he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis. As a result he also made the crow sacred and gave them the task of announcing important deaths. Apollo rescued the baby and gave it to the centaur Chiron to raise. Phlegyas was irate after the death of his daughter and burned the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Apollo then killed him for the slight.

Homosexual Relationships

Apollo, the eternal beardless youth himself, had the most male lovers of all the Greek gods, as could be expected from a god who was god of the palaestra, the athletic gathering place for youth, who all competed in the nude. Many of Apollo's young beloveds died "accidentally", a reflection on the function of these myths as part of rites of passage, in which the youth died in order to be reborn as an adult.

Hyacinth was one of his male lovers. Hyacinthus was a Spartan prince, beautiful and athletic. The pair were practicing throwing the discus when Hyacinthus was struck in the head by a discus blown off course by Zephyrus, who was jealous of Apollo and loved Hyacinthus as well. When Hyacinthus died, Apollo is said in some accounts to have been so filled with grief that he cursed his own immortality, wishing to join his lover in mortal death. Out of the blood of his slain lover Apollo created the hyacinth flower as a memorial to his death, and his tears stained the flower petals with, meaning alas. The Festival of Hyacinthus was a celebration of Sparta.

Acantha - One of his other liaisons was with Acantha, the spirit of the acanthus tree. Upon his death, he was transformed into a sun-loving herb by Apollo, and his bereaved sister, Acanthis, was turned into a thistle finch by the other gods.

Cyparissus - Another male lover was Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. Apollo gave the boy a tame deer as a companion but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. Cyparissus asked Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo turned the sad boy into a cypress tree, which was said to be a sad tree because the sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk.

Apollo and the Birth of Hermes - Hermes was born on Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia. The story is told in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. His mother, Maia, had been secretly impregnated by Zeus, in a secret affair. Maia wrapped the infant in blankets but Hermes escaped while she was asleep. Hermes ran to Thessaly, where Apollo was grazing his cattle. The infant Hermes stole a number of his 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 the first lyre. Apollo complained to Maia that her son had stolen his cattle, but Hermes had already replaced himself in the blankets she had wrapped him in, so Maia refused to believe Apollo's claim. Zeus intervened and, claiming to have seen the events, sided with Apollo. 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 the cattle for the lyre. Hence, Apollo became a master of the lyre and Hermes invented a kind of pipes-instrument called a syrinx.Later, Apollo exchanged a caduceus for a syrinx from Hermes.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his surviving crew landed on an island sacred to Helios the sun god, where he kept sacred cattle. Though Odysseus warned his men not to (as Tiresias and kirke had told him), they killed and ate some of the cattle and Helios had Zeus destroy the ship and all the men save Odysseus.

Apollo killed the Aloadae when they attempted to storm Mt. Olympus.Apollo gave the order, through the Oracle at Delphi, for Orestes to kill his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. Orestes was punished fiercely by the Erinyes for this crime.

It was also said that Apollo rode on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans during the winter months.

Apollo turned Cephissus into a sea monster.

Reference - Wikipedia

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