Apollo, the Greek god of sun, as well as the god of plague, healing, music, archery, and prophecy, is one of the twelve deities of Olympus. He is son of Zeus and Leto (a daughter of the titans Coeus and Phoebe) and twin brother to the goddess Artemis. He is known by other names such as Apollon, Phoebus (or Phoibus), and Sol (Latin for sun) and was also identified with Helios. He is also known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. His main iconic images are of the laurel wreath, the lyre, and the bow.
He also holds the idealized form of Kouros, a young man of beauty and grace. He is listed in many poems, but “The Homeric Hymn to Apollo” is a favorite since it gives the most complete stories of Apollo in a single poem. Apollo was born on the island of Delos along with his sister Artemis. His mother, Leto, had a delayed childbirth due to the fact that the goddess of childbirth, Eilithyia, was distracted by Hera. After nine days she had finally come to aid Leto and Apollo was born fully grown. Hera had also punished Leto for Zeus’ infidelity.
After Apollo’s birth, he had set out to search for a place to build his temple and came across a land known as Telephousa. The people of Telephousa had told him that the land was not good enough for him and that he should find some other place. This then leads Apollo to the land of Krisa where nearby he confronts a giant snake (which was a Python) and kills it by using all of his arrows. After that, the land was further known as Phythia. For everyone to remember the slaying of the phython he created the Phythian Games where men would participate and compete in sporting games and usical competitions. Following the defeat of the phython Apollo had turned into a dolphin while boarding a ship and ends up directing them to a new land which was named Delphi, which is derived from the word delphis, meaning dolphin in Greek. The crewmembers had became the first priests of Apollo and established the temple of Apollo, the most sacred of the temples of Apollo. The temple located here also becomes the resting place where the oracle of Apollo is placed and it rests on the Delphic tripod. The ovid tells the story of Daphne and Apollo.
Daphne, the daughter of the river god Penesus and Thessaly was a hunter who disliked marriage and men and wishes to remain unmarried and chaste. As Apollo watches her hunting he quicky is smitten by her and chases after her. Daphne soon runs from Apollo and calls for her fathers help who then turned her into a laurel tree. The leaves of laurel tree where thereafter used to crown victors at the Pythian Games. Apollo had also fallen in love with Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, who he taught the gift of prophecy in return for her to be his lover.
She agreed, but soon after broke the bargain in which he then planted a curse upon her: though Cassandra would always speak the truth, no one would ever believe her. He also had fallen in love with men, the best known being the heros Hyacinthus and Cyparissus. Apollo had many children such as Aristaeus, Asclepius, and, in some legends, Orpheus. He also had a son named Phaethon who had wished to ride his father’s chariot and ended up crashing it, dying while also burning the earth. The story of Asclepius included that his father, Apollo, had given him the gift of healing but Asclepius abused that power by raising the dead.
Zeus had punished him by striking him dead with a thunderbolt. Apollo was angered by Zeus’ act, but getting mad at him would serve no purpose, so he took out his anger out on the maker of the thunderbolts, the Cyclops, and killed him. Zeus, being mad that he had did so, was prepared to hurl Apollo to Tartarus, but another god intervened, possibly Apollo’s mother, Leto. Zeus had sentenced Apollo to year’s term as an assistant to a human, King Admetus who treated him very kind. In return, Apollo had prophesized King Admetus’ future.
Due to Apollo’s love affairs with nymphs and young people who became flowers and trees, it linked him to plant growth and nature. Although Apollo was mostly of gentle nature, he did show cruel punishments. Marsyas, the Satyre who was the son of Olympus, found a flute and challenged Apollo, claiming he could make sweeter music than Apollo with his lyre. Marsyas was the loser (in some stories it states that Apollo is the loser) and Apollo flayed him alive. Another example of Apollo’s wrath would be the massacre of Niobe’s children.
Niobe boasted that she was a better mother than Leto since she had six sons and daughters. Apollo had killed all of the six sons while Artemis killed the daughters. Certain animals were especially dedicated to Apollo: the wolf (sacrificed to him and often shown together with him on coins), the roebuck or hind (plays a part in the cult of Artemis), the vulture and raven (their flight conveyed omens), the swan (pulled his golden chariot), the snake (he had slain near Krisa), and the dolphin (form he had used to help crewmen find new land).