In this ever changing world, is it any wonder one gets confused? There are so many roles to play and I am not talking about actors who don on a persona and perform according the character’s role. I’m referring to people like you and me, who go to work every day wearing one type of hat; coming home to family, another hat; the tech savvy specialist, hat three; the welfare officer, hat four… and so on. Juggling hats can get tiring mentally and physically, no wonder the god Apollo, who was no older than a twenty year old did things out of spite. Not saying it was right but you do get tired and say or do something you regret.
Apollo (Apollôn – Greek transliteration) was the god of prophecy, healing, plague and disease, music, song and poetry, archery and protector of youth. He was depicted as a beardless youth with long hair, sometimes wearing a wreath or holding a branch of laurel. Like his sister Artemis he carried a bow and quiver. In some images, a raven would be included perched on a limb. He was most renown for his music and in many pictures he holds a lyre.
He didn’t like being shown up as demonstrated in the legend of a music competition against the satyr Marsyas. The story goes Marsyas came across a flute, discarded by Athene who invented the instrument as she didn’t like how it made her face look when she blew into the pipes. He composed tunes on it and proud of his work challenged Apollo to a contest. As anyone knows, you don’t presume to be better than a god. As punishment, Apollo tied him to a tree and flayed him alive. The Ancient Greeks had a word to explain Marsyas arrogance—hubris. A number of myths shows what happens to someone who allows pride to cloud their judgement. Unfortunately, most repercussions were violent and death inevitable.
Apollo did have a nasty streak but was capable of love for both men and women. The interesting thing about Greek Mythology was the affairs the gods had with mortals who were then transformed into either flora or fauna, even rivers. In one such myth, Apollo loved a youth called Hyakinthos, a Spartan prince but Zephyros, the West Wind loved him as well. One day while Apollo and the prince were throwing a discus, Zephyros or Boreas, caused the discus to go off course and hit Hyakinthos in the head. Apollo then transformed him into a flower, the hyacinth.
The Delphic Oracle was and is the most famous and enduring myth of Apollo. Today, just as people in the ancient past visited Delphi, was a major destination for Greeks who wanted to know their future. Thousands of tourists visit the ancient site every year. It is a magnificent site and the views are spectacular. How did Apollo come to be the main player of Delphi? Gaia was the original goddess worshipped at Delphi until Apollo killed her son Python. He took over and would give his predictions through a woman who became known as Pythia. Another legend was when Zeus made Delphi the centre of the world, ‘omphalos’ and symbolised by a large oval shaped stone. This stone was swallowed by Kronos who thought it was the infant Zeus.
For more information about Apollo visit Gods & Goddesses of Ancient Greece.
As always, I look forward to your comments.