What does Greek mythology say about god Apollo?
Apollo was one of the Olympian gods of ancient Greek religion. But how well do we know him? After Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, and Poseidon, it is time to see facts about Apollo, Greek god of sunlight and music.
Greek Myths | Facts about Apollo:
- Apollo was more than the God of sunlight
- God Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis
- Apollo was the deity of the Delphic Oracle
- The Destruction of Python by Apollo
- Apollo and his love for the muses and the nymphs
- God Apollo and the enigma of Hyperborea
- A concept of Nietzsche is named after Apollo
Let’s see the facts about Apollo in detail…
Apollo was more than the God of sunlight
Greek god Apollo is universally known as the god of the sun and light, often believed to be the one responsible for moving the sun with his golden chariot. Sometimes, he is presented as the personification of the Sun, alongside Helios. Other times, he is depicted holding a lyre and that is how most people know that he was also the god of music. But Greek god Apollo influenced many more aspects of life. He was the god of prophecy, archery, healing and diseases. As an oracular god, he gave prophecies to the gifted ones. As the father of the god of medicine, Asclepius, he was also the god of diseases and healing. With his arrows he could spread infectious diseases and, at the same time, he could help humans heal from them.
Your Greek language journey starts here.
God Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis
Greek god Apollo may represented the sun. But who represented the moon? That would be Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis. The two gods were born on a floating island named Delos, which is one of Greece’s most mysterious islands. Their mother was Leto, a mistress of Zeus, who was targeted by goddess Hera. As the goddess of childbirth, Hera didn’t allow Leto to give birth on any land and Delos was the only place she could have her twins. Although as different as the moon to the sun, the two siblings share a common interest: archery.
Apollo was the deity of the Delphic Oracle
Previously we saw that Apollo was more than the god of sunlight and music. Apollo was an oracular god, meaning he could help people get prophetic dreams and foresee the future. You may have already heard of the Oracle of Delphi, where a high priestess named Pythia would prophesize and console humans. What fewer people know is that the Oracle of Delphi was located at a temple dedicated to Apollo. The oracular god was the one communicating with Pythia, with the latter being the medium between the god and the mortals. It is worth mentioning that Apollo is often associated with Prophet Helias. In Greek Orthodoxy, the prophet and foreseer is connected to Helios, the Sun, and he is believed to have flown with a golden chariot to heaven. The churches of Prophet Helias are always built on sunlit hills and mountaintops.
The Destruction of Python by Apollo
The reason why the high priestess of the temple of Apollo was called Pythia is related to a myth about the oracular god killing a gigantic serpentine monster known as Python. Ancient Greeks believed that the gigantic serpent lived under the ground. Python would protect the passageway towards the center of the Earth, known as the Omphalos. That was a cave located in the city of Delphi and the home of this huge snake. When Leto, the mother of Apollo, was in labor, Python was sent by Hera to attack her unsuccessfully. As a child, Apollo destroyed Python with his arrows to take revenge. A temple dedicated to the god was built at the Omphalos and Delphi, and Pythia became the high priestess.
Apollo and his love for the muses and the nymphs
Greek god Apollo had many romantic interests but, without a doubt, he had a type: nymphs and muses. From ancient Greek mythology we know of the nymph Daphne who was transformed into a tree to avoid Apollo. Evadne was another nymph who, contrary to Daphne, wasn’t transformed into a plant. The god was also in love with all the nine muses, but he couldn’t choose one of them and, thus, he remained unwed.
God Apollo and the enigma of Hyperborea
A great mystery in the mythology surrounding god Apollo, is his association with a land named Hyperborea. It was described as the northern part of the world and some believe that this sacred land was no other than the north pole. Hyperborea is also connected to the name of Apollo (north pole… Apollo), although the origins of his name are not agreed upon by scholars.
Others speculate that Hyperborea was a land in Central Europe, since some historians disagree with the idea of ancient Greeks travelling to the north pole. That of course contradicts the accounts of Pytheas the geographer who reportedly was the first person to report the midnight sun in a land far north. The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the Arctic Circle, when the sun remains visible at midnight. According to Greek mythology, the people of Hyperborea were the ones who founded the shrines of Apollo in Delphi and Delos.
A concept of Nietzsche is named after Apollo
If you are familiar with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, then you may already know the concepts of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. In “The Birth of Tragedy”, the German philosopher suggests that artistic creation depends on two opposing forces named after two beloved ancient Greek gods: Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo is light, Dionysus is darkness. Apollo is harmony and structure, Dionysus is chaos and primary unity.