God of Music, Prophecy, Colonization, Medicine, Archery, Poetry, Dance, Intellectual Inquiry, Light, and Plague

This is what Apollo may have looked like.
This is what Apollo may have looked like.

Important Facts

Weapons: Bow and arrow, plague
Symbols: Silver bow and arrow, swans, wolves, ravens, laurel, snakes, gold, flute, and grasshoppers


Apollo was born the son of Zeus and Leto, and also the twin brother of Artemis. When the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus, found out that Leto had become pregnant after an affair with Zeus, she became enraged. With vengeance, Hera forced Leto to wander the earth looking for a place to give birth. Since Hera prevented Leto from giving birth on earth (terra-firma or an island at sea), the only place she could go was Delos (a floating island in the center of the Aegean). Passing through the treacherous under-currents, Leto gave birth to the first of two divine twins, Artemis. Because Leto was extremely exhausted after Artemis' birth, Artemis became her midwife and helped deliver Apollo one day later, she became the goddess of fertility. When Apollo was born, swans encircled the island, making the swan sacred to him. As a thank you gift, Delos was anchored to the sea bed with four columns for stability. Another version of Apollo's birth is that the furious Hera imprisoned Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, so that Leto couldn't give birth. Eventually the other gods forced Hera to release Ilithyia so that Leto could give birth.


Apollo fighting Python.
Apollo fighting Python.

Apollo had numerous accomplishments, even in his childhood. His first achievement was at the age of 4 days old. During his mother Leto's pregnancy, a dragon by the name of Python, sent by Hera herself, was pursuing Leto so that she couldn't have a calm and peaceful birth. When Leto finally found the island of Delos, she was able to give birth to Apollo and Artemis. After Apollo's birth, he asked Hephaestus, the god of smithing, for a set of bow and arrows to slay Python. After he had received them, he sought out to find Python and kill him for tormenting his mother. When he found Python, he shot him once with his bow and arrow. The wounded dragon fled back to its cave in Delphi, only to once again be hunted down by Apollo. The second shot from Apollo's bow was the killing blow, which liberated the city of Delphi from the dragon. The citizens of Delphi were so grateful that they made the city the main place of Apollo's worship. What Apollo didn't know was that Python was the son of Gaia (Mother Earth), and that Python was also the guardian of the sanctuary of Delphi beside the Castalian Spring. The sanctuary housed the oracle of Delphi who could see into the future by inhaling the trance inducing vapors from an open chasm. Even though Zeus was proud of his son's early accomplishment, he still had to be punished for killing the son of Gaia.

He first had to go back to the sanctuary of Delphi and learn the art of prophecy from the priestess there. Next, he had to become a mortal and serve King Admetus for nine years. Admetus was a kind and pious man who treated Apollo well. In his gratitude, Apollo looked into the future to assist Admetus even further. Apollo said that if Admetus wanted to live longer, he would have to make someone else take his place during his dying hour. Admetus later fell in love with Alcestis, the daughter of King Pelias, and asked her hand in marriage. Pelias would accept only if Admetus came for her in a carriage drawn by lions and boars. He was able to do this with the help of Apollo. When Admetus' final hour arrived, Alcestis took his place on the death bed. Fortunately, Heracles(Hercules) was there to convince Thanatos, the god of death, to let Alcestis survive and be reunited with her husband.

Not all of Apollo's accomplishments, however, were good. A satyr by the name of Marsyas found an aulos (flute) on the ground that was invented by Athena, the goddess of skill and wisdom. When Athena played this aulos, her cheeks became puffy and she was ridiculed by the other gods. For this, she threw the aulos down to earth. Marsyas picked it up and started playing, and became quite good at it. He became so good at playing it that, in fact, he thought he was musically superior than Apollo. With this, he challenged Apollo to a music contest. This contest was judged by The Muses(the goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences). After their first performance, The Muses decided that they were equal. Unsatisfied, Apollo decided that the next round of competition would be who sounds better while singing and playing their instrument. This was very easy to do with a lyre, but it is impossible to do with an aulos. With this, Apollo was declared the victor of the contest, but winning was still not enough for Apollo. Apollo wanted to punish Marsyas for thinking he was better than him. He chased Marsyas and trapped him in a cave near Calaenae in Phrygia, and then flayed (skinned) him alive. The skin of Marsyas was then nailed to a nearby pine tree, and the blood that spilled from it became the river Marsyas.

Love Life
A statue of Apollo and Daphne.
A statue of Apollo and Daphne.
Apollo had a very active love life. His most known love affair was with a young mountain nymph named Daphne. Daphne live her life in the services of Gaia the Earth Mother. Daphne was not interested in men or family matters, so she focused on her priestess duties in the Temple of the Goddess. Daphne was happy to remain a virgin, she was very contented on spending her days learning they ways to becoming a goddess. She loved the freedom of the woods and the challenges of the hunt.
Apollo and Aphrodite's son Eros had an altercation on Mount Olympus. Apollo insulted him and Eros became very offended. Eros decided that he would get pay back to regain honor. Eros took his golden arrows and aimed directly at Apollo's heart, and that's when Daphne caught his eye, as she ran happily through the woods. As he began to fall deeply in love with her, Eros reloaded his bow and shot the young nymph with an arrow dipped with lead.
Apollo search through the forest for Daphne. He finally spotted her and approached her with open arms. She quickly ran away as Apollo chased her, calling her name and assuring her that he wasn't a monster, but one of the divine Olympians that has fallen in love with her. Daphne became more frightened and ran the opposite way and started calling for Gaia to help her.
Daphne's legs became root as she was turned into a tree by Gaia. Apollo caught up to her and grasped on to her legs. It was beneficial for her to become a tree because she was freed for Apollo's grasp and she would stay a virgin. Apollo was heartbroken. He cut off a branch and placed it on top of his head and that branch, ever since that day, has become sacred to the sun god

Apollo Today
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

How do we relate with Apollo today?
Apollo is the essence of the god from antiquity. He is still a big part of our lives. He fuels us with light, obviously because he is the sun god, and a prophetic and illuminated hunter. His swift arrows of musical melody come down on us like a chant. When we pray to Apollo we become filled with light and fills our world with his melodies and rhymes that fill it with joy and happiness. Therefore, we look to Apollo for help, to guide us to happiness and the light.

Works Cited

"Apollo." Encyclopedia Mythica. 2009. Encyclopedia Mythica Online.
24 Apr. 2009

"Apollo." Retrieved 25 April 2009 <http://s.bebo.com/app-image/7935561933/5411656627/PROFILE/i.quizzaz.com/img/q/u/08/04/14/Apollo_cartoon_drawing.jpg>.

"Apollo." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 2009. Apr. 25 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo>.

"Apollo and Daphne." Retrieved 26 April 2009 <http://www.joannemackellar.com/designjournal/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/apollo.jpg>.

"Apollo: Greek God of Light." Greek Gods in Mythology and as Archetypes in Your Personality:: Home of the Greek Gods Quiz online. 25 Apr. 2009 <http://www.men-myths-minds.com/Apollo-greek-god.html>.

"God Apollo." Retrieved 26 April 2009 http://www.religioromana.net/dii_consentes/apollo.htm

"Python-Apollo." Retrieved 26 April 2009 <http://www.latein-pagina.de/ovid/pic_ovid_1/python12.jpeg>.

" Tales of Apollo." Retrieved 26 April 2009 http://www.geocities.com/medea19777/apollo.html

"Temple of Apollo." Retrieved 26 April 2009 http://www.aguide2greece.com/UserFiles/Image/Delphi.jpg.