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Apollo or Apollon
Apollo Musagetes Pio-Clementino Inv310.jpg
Roman equivalent Apollo

Apollo is a god in Greek mythology, and one of the Twelve Olympians. He is the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin brother of Artemis. He is the god of healing, medicine, archery, music, poetry and the sun. He is the leader of the Muses. He also is a god of prophecy, and his Oracle at Delphi is very important. He also is the god of justice. During the 5th century BC, Apollo became also known as the god of Sun, becoming one with the god Helios, and getting the name Phoebus. He is shown as a young man, wearing a laurel wreath and playing the kithara (lyre). It is known as his symbol. His other symbols include the raven.

Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius. Apollo delivered people from epidemics, yet he is also a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague with his arrows. The invention of archery itself is credited to Apollo and his sister Artemis. Apollo is usually described as carrying a silver or golden bow and a quiver of silver or golden arrows.

Apollo is an important pastoral deity, and was the patron of herdsmen and shepherds. Protection of herds, flocks and crops from diseases, pests and predators were his primary duties.

As the god of mousike, Apollo presides over all music, songs, dance and poetry.

Myths about Apollo

Apollon or Apollo was one of the Twelve Olympians, the 12 most important gods in Greek mythology. Because of this, there are many myths about him:

The Birth of Apollo

Metropolitan Richart Latona
Apollo and his twin sister Artemis with their mother, Leto

Apollo and his twin sister Artemis were the children of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, and the goddess Leto.

When Zeus' wife Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant, she banned Leto from giving birth on terra firma. Leto sought shelter in many lands, only to be rejected by them. Finally, the voice of unborn Apollo informed his mother about a floating island named Delos that had once been Asteria, Leto's own sister. Since it was neither a mainland nor an island, Leto was readily welcomed there and gave birth to her children under a palm tree. Delos then became Apollo's and Artemis' sacred land. It varies from myth to myth what twin was born first.

When Apollo was born, clutching a golden sword, everything on Delos turned into gold and the island was filled with ambrosial fragrance. Swans circled the island seven times and the nymphs sang in delight. He was washed clean by the goddesses who then covered him in white garment and fastened golden bands around him. Since Leto was unable to feed him, Themis, the goddess of divine law, fed him with 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 and Delphi

7003.Apollo mit dem getöteten Python(1752)-François Gaspard Adam-Große Fontäne-Sanssouci Steffen Heilfort
Apollo victorious over the Python, by François Gaspard Adam

When Apollo grew up, he went to his father Zeus and asked for a golden bow with arrows as bright and sharp as the sunshine. Then he went looking for a place to build his temple. He came to a spring that belonged to a nymph called Telephusa and tried to build his temple there, but Telephusa suggested he build his temple at Delphi instead since there was already a shrine there to Themis, the goddess of telling the future. Apollo went to Delphi but found out it was taken over by Python, the dragon who had tried to eat his mother. He killed the Python with a hundred arrows and claimed Delphi as his temple. He got two sailors to be his priests and then gave a girl the power of telling the future. The girl became his priestess or oracle. The little god Eros, the son of the love goddess Aphrodite, had watched Apollo kill Python and worshipped Apollo as his idol. Apollo, however, was annoyed by Eros and insulted him. Eros got angry and shot Apollo with his magic arrow, making him fall in love with a nymph named Daphne. Daphne didn't love Apollo and shunned him. Apollo chased her and she turned herself into a laurel tree to escape him. Apollo still loved her and made the laurel one of his symbols.

Apollo and Hermes

Apollo looked after the cattle of the sun-god Helios while Helios was driving the sun through the sky. While Apollo was chasing Daphne, the mischievous baby god Hermes stole the cattle and confused Apollo by making the cattle walk backward as they left their pen. When Apollo went looking for them, it looked like they had walked into the ranch instead of out. Hermes also told a nearby man that he would make him rich if he told no one about what he saw Hermes do. The man, Battos, told Apollo anyway and was later turned into stone by Hermes as punishment. Apollo took Hermes in front of all the gods to be judged. Hermes acted innocent, though, and finally convinced Apollo to forgive him by giving him the lyre. Apollo loved this lyre so much that he not only let Hermes keep the cattle but also gave him the caduceus, a magic wand that could heal wounds and cause sleep. Hermes tried the caduceus out on two dying snakes, who came back to life and curled around the wand for the rest of eternity. Apollo, meanwhile, used his lyre to become the god of music and became the leader of the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts.


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.

Attributes and symbols

MANNapoli 6281 Sitting Apollo Farnese
Apollo seated with lyre. Porphyry and marble, 2nd century AD. Farnese collection, Naples, Italy.

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 bay laurel plant was used in 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), ravens, hawks, crows (Apollo had hawks and crows as his messengers), snakes (referencing Apollo's function as the god of prophecy), mice and griffins, mythical eagle–lion hybrids of Eastern origin.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Apolo para niños

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