God of the Week: Apollo
God of the Week 12/07/09: Apollo
Apollo is the ancient Greek god of light and the sun, as well as healing, prophesy, honesty, and, as many sun gods, as a law giver. Apollo and his sister Artemis were fathered by the chief god, Zeus and the mortal woman Leto. His main centers of worship were in Delphi and Delos, though there were shrines of worship erected to him all over Greece. The temple at Delphi was indisputably the most well known oracle in all of ancient Greece and pilgrims had been traveling there since before recorded history to have the priestess go into a trance and forecast their futures.
Apollo is occasionally identified with the god Helios, who would more properly be thought of as a personification of the sun itself, rather than a sun god. In the Homeric epics (which have been dated between 850 to 1,180 BCE), both gods are refereed to as separate entities. Though, in Euripides’ play ‘Phaethon’ (written ~420BCE) it is implied that they are the same god, leading us to believe that, as time went on, Apollo became associated more and more with the sun itself.
From, Mythology of All Races:
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Apollo, the brightest and the most complex creation of polytheism, seems to have been originally the leading god of a people who migrated into Greece from the north in prehistoric times, his northern origin being apparently reflected in the fixed routes followed by the sacred processions to his two chief shrines. The one way, which, we may note, Apollo himself followed, according to the longer Homeric Hymn in his honor, ran southward from Tempe through Iolkos and Thebes to Delphoi; and the other led the pilgrims bearing the Hyperboreian fruits overland along the coast of the Adriatic to Dodona, thence eastward to the Gulf of Euboia, and from that point by ship to Delos. Apollo’s initial function is by no means certain, nor has any satisfactory explanation of the source and meaning of his name yet been offered.
In Homer Apollo is already the son of Zeus and the brother of Artemis, but, although his chief physical traits and the leading features of his character are fixed, he has yet to evolve the complex personality by which he is to be known to the Greeks after the fifth century b.c. He has to do with light, but is not convincingly identified with Helios. He is a god of healing, but not yet the god of healing, so that he revives Hektor after he has been wounded in conflict. With the power of healing must be assumed its opposite, the ability to inflict harm, whence it was Apollo who, in consequence of a slight, sent the pestilence upon the men and beasts of the Achaian camp. He is himself the expert archer of the Olympians and confers on Pandaros and Teukros skill in the use of the bow, but, though he wields the bow and occasionally takes part in the strife as a violent partisan of the Trojans, he is only accidentally a god of war. He is associated with prophecy in that seers, like Kalchas, draw their inspiration from him. Descriptions of him always represent him as in the prime of young manhood, with flowing locks of golden hair.
-The Mythology of All Races, Volume I: Greek and Roman
by William Sherwood Fox, Ph.D
Louis Herbert Gray, Editor