Apollo is the god of light and music, healing, and prophecy. He is a son of Zeus and Leto, twin brother of Artemis.
Apollo was born on Mount Cynthus on Delos, an island in the Aegean Sea near Greece. His mother was abandoned by Zeus because she had offended Hera by being pregnant while Zeus was still married to her sister Demeter (goddess of agriculture). The birth pangs were so strong that Apollo’s mother died from them before his birth could be completed. He came forth from his mother’s womb fully grown and with hair on his head (the mark of divinity). His father raised him on Mount Olympus where he taught him about music, medicine, and prophecy.
Athena taught him about war strategy and tactics; he also learned how to fight with weapons from Chiron (a centaur), who had been trained by Apollo himself!
Apollo’s symbols are the bow and arrow, lyre (a stringed musical instrument), tripod (a three-legged stand for hot water or oil), laurel tree (the source of bay leaves used in cooking), and swan (the symbol of his mother). The Pythian Games were held in his honor every four years at Delphi.
Apollo is often depicted as a young man with golden hair and sun-kissed skin. He was considered one of the most important Greek gods because he represented civilization as well as nature itself.