|The Son of Zeus and Leto|
|Apollon at Delphi|
|The Omphalos at Delphi|
|Apollon and Hermes|
|Apollon and Asklepios|
|Apollon and Admetos|
|Apollon and Niobe|
|Apollon and Oedipus|
|Apollon and Herakles|
|Apollon at Troy|
|Encounters with Apollon|
|Oracle Sites of Apollon|
|Apollon Reveals the Future|
|The Consorts of Apollon|
|Apollon and the Hyperboreans|
|Images of Apollon|
Apollon is known by many names … Phoibos (Phoebus), Phoibos Apollon, Loxias, the Archer, the Far-Shooter, Lord of the Silver Bow, Shooter from Afar, Son of Leto, God of Delphi and Far-Darter. However, for understandable yet unforgivable reasons, there are some who insist on calling him Apollo. They seem to have forgotten that Apollon is Greek and Apollo was Roman.
At the time of the Trojan War (circa 1250 BCE) Apollon was quite old … as an Immortal, he retained his youthful appearance but in human years he was very, very old when he fought at Troy. A thousand years after the Trojan War, the Romans included a sun god named Apollo in their pantheon … he was the son of Latona and Iuppiter (modern Jupiter or Jove), and the brother of Diana. Apollon is the son of Leto and Zeus, the brother of Artemis, and should never be confused with the real god of the sun, Helios.
Many of the Greek Immortals and Roman deities had similar attributes but they were certainly not "identical" or "equivalent" … let's leave Apollo to the Romans and discuss the Greek god Apollon.
Apollon and his sister Artemis are the immortal children of Zeus and Leto. Zeus is considered to be the father of the gods even though he was born several generations after the Immortal race was spawned by Chaos. Zeus and Leto were both children of Titans … Leto's parents were Koios (Coeus) and Phoibe (Phoebe) … Zeus's parents were Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea).
Leto was the consort of Zeus … his sister/wife Hera was not pleased when she became aware that Leto was pregnant with twins. When it came time for her children to be born, Leto traveled far and wide to find a suitable birthplace. The Nymphs of the various islands and provinces were reluctant to allow their domains to be the home of Leto's twins because they knew that Hera was angry with Zeus for his association with Leto … the Nymphs were justifiably afraid that Hera would vent her wrath on any Immortal who assisted Leto.
The goddess Delos had a rocky island in the southern Aegean Sea which Leto thought would be the perfect birthplace for Apollon. Delos was aware of the dangers she faced by helping Leto but she also knew that Leto's children would be honored by mortal and immortal alike. To protect herself, Delos made Leto swear a great oath on the river Styx that her new son would never abandon his birthplace and that he would always keep his temple on the humble island. Leto swore the oath and Apollon was soon to be born on the island of Delos.
The goddesses Rheia (Rhea), Dione, Themis, Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and two Hyperborean maidens went to Delos to attend Apollon's birth. Hera knew that she couldn't prevent the birth of Apollon but she was determined to make it as difficult as possible. Hera distracted her daughter Eileithyia (goddess of Childbirth) so that Apollon's birth would be delayed and Leto would suffer for the presumed insult to the queen of the goddesses. Finally, the assembled goddesses dispatched Iris to bring Eileithyia to Delos … Iris flew to Mount Olympos (Olympus) and waited until Hera was not looking and told Eileithyia of the situation … the two goddesses returned to Delos where Apollon's birth proceeded without further delay. Leto had been in labor for nine days and nights before Apollon was born.
Apollon was born on the seventh day of the month and that day is considered to be holy. He did not nurse at his mother's breast because he was given ambrosia and nectar which are the food and drink of the Immortals. He burst from his crib and announced his intentions to play the lyre, carry the curved bow and declare the unfailing will of Zeus to the mortals of the earth.
The island of Delos became rich and beautiful with the presence of Apollon and Leto … the mountains bloomed with flowers and people came from all regions to make generous donations to the Shrine of Apollon. Games and dancing inspired the worshipers but the handmaidens of Apollon were the most amazing attraction on the island … they had the ability to sing in such a way that each person heard them in his or her native tongue.
Although she was not born on Delos, Apollon's sister Artemis is considered to be his twin … she is skillful with her silver bow and aids the people of the earth by giving comfort to the weak and unfortunate. Artemis is often called the Virgin Goddess of the Hunt or simply Goddess of the Hunt.
Apollon was given another responsibility by Zeus … he was to join with the daughters and sons of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean) to protect mortal children. Apollon, the Okeanids and the Rivers were excellent choices for that important task.
Apollon sought to establish a shrine of prophecy and conceived a plan whereby he could build and populate a new city for that purpose. Apollon did not make a hasty decision as to where his temple would be built … he traveled throughout Greece and Asia Minor seeking the perfect location. The place he finally chose was Delphi, located at the foot of Mount Parnassos (Mount Parnassus) in central southern Greece just north of the Gulf of Corinth in the district of Phokis (Phocis).
The ruins of the Temple of Apollon at Delphi.
The site was inhabited by the streams of Telphousa (Telphusa) and a great she-dragon … neither wanted a city or a god as their neighbor. Telphousa tried to beguile Apollon but he eventually saw through her manipulation. The she-beast was known to be deadly to anyone who came near her … Apollon shot her with an arrow and exalted over her as she lay dying in the holy light of Helios (the Sun). From that time on, Delphi was called Pytho and Apollon became known as The Pythian because Helios made the creature rot away (πυθώ = pytho). Apollon then turned his attention to Telphousa … she had tried to mesmerize him and he punished her by causing a rockslide to cover her waters … in the grove where she once flowed Apollon is worshiped as The Telphousian Lord signifying his domination over her.
The site of the temple had been chosen and secured … the foundations had been laid … now Apollon needed ministers to supervise the sacrifices and administer the temple. As he pondered this problem he became aware of a ship on the sea … the men on the ship appeared to be goodly men from the island of Crete … Apollon at once decided that they would serve him well. In the form of a dolphin, Apollon approached the ship and leapt onto the deck … the men on the ship were perplexed but were unable to remove the disguised god from the vessel. Apollon took control of the ship and steered it to the proximity of Delphi and ran it aground on the shore. Apollon transformed from a dolphin into a flaming star and flew from the ship to his temple at Delphi … the sky lit up and the people in the surrounding countryside were terrified.
Apollon returned to the beached ship in the guise of a young man … the men on the ship knew that the young man who stood before them was a god and they begged for mercy and understanding. Apollon told them his true identity and that he had brought them to that place so that they might become his ministers and serve him at his temple. The men willingly accepted his commands and went to the temple … Apollon promised them that they would want for nothing as long as they were not idle or disobedient … he would put the will of Zeus in their hearts so that they could advise the worshipers and the worshipers would provide the necessities of life for those who served him on the rocky folds of Mount Parnassos.
Apollon's temple at Delphi quickly became famous for the prophecies which were recited by the Pythia, i.e. the priestess/medium. Apollon would speak through the Pythia and make the will of Zeus known to worthy patrons. The Pythia would traditionally give the prophesies of the god in hexameter poetry … the verses recited by the Pythia would usually be enigmatic, i.e. they were mysterious but not necessarily unfathomable.
The way in which it was first realized that the oracular trances induced at Delphi were a direct communication with Apollon is as mysterious as the accuracy of the oracles themselves. The residents of Delphi told the traveler/historian Pausanias that shepherds were perhaps the first to inhale the vapors of the mountain and give prophecy as "the mouthpiece of Apollon," however the prevalent view was that a woman named Phemonoe was the first Pythia and the first to give the prophecies in hexameter verse. A native woman of Delphi named Boeo composed a hymn stating that a Hyperborean named Olen was the first to prophesy and the first to chant the hexameter oracles.
The exact date when the first temple was built at Delphi is not known but we can assume the that the site went through an evolutionary process that took thousands of years to become a monumental stone structure … only the ruins of the Temple of Apollon remain but we can easily imagine its former magnificence.
The first Temple of Apollon at Delphi was made of laurel branches from Tempe. The temple is assumed to have been simplistic in size and shape but none the less awe inspiring because it was the dwelling place of the god. The second Temple of Apollon was more supernatural in its construction … it was made by bees from beeswax and feathers. At first this might seem like an extraordinary claim but it becomes more reasonable if we remember that there was a sect of priestesses of Artemis known as the Melissonomoi, i.e. the Bee-Keepers … for Artemis to have her priestesses assist her brother by building a temple for him seems quite reasonable. Finally, the second temple was sent to the Hyperboreans by Apollon.
The Omphalos was one of the most important features of the Temple of Apollon at Delphi. Simply speaking, the Omphalos was a stone … but it was not just any stone. The Omphalos was the stone that Kronos (Cronos) was tricked into swallowing by his sister/wife Rheia (Rhea).
When Kronos ruled heaven and earth, he was given a prophecy that his son would usurp his powers … Kronos began swallowing his children as soon as they were born so that there would be no chance that one of them could threaten his authority. Rheia became weary of Kronos's obsessive behavior and when her sixth child was born, substituted a stone in place of the baby … Kronos swallowed the stone down without noticing that he had been tricked.
Rheia named her child Zeus and took him to the island of Crete where he would be safe from Kronos. When Zeus attained manhood, he assaulted his father and the stone was vomited up along with the other children Kronos had swallowed. True to the prophecy, Zeus took his father's throne and became ruler of all creation. Zeus took the stone and placed it at Delphi … at the Navel of the World … to be a portent and marvel to mortals for all time … the name Omphalos literally means Navel.
Although the original stone has been lost for almost two thousand years, it is thought to have been conical in shape and endowed with supernatural powers. There is a replica (pictured above) of the stone on display at the entrance to the ruins of the Temple of Apollon at Delphi but we cannot be certain of the shape or size of the original stone. The traveler/historian Pausanias reported (circa 160 CE) that he had seen a stone of unremarkable size that was said to be the original stone.
There are numerous examples in the ancient literature of the prophecies given by the Pythia at Delphi but I will only present a few of the more famous ones here.
Circa 776 BCE, the city of Sparta went through a complete reformation of its laws and social structure. One man is credited with this transformation, Lykurgos (Lycurgus).
No aspect of Spartan culture was overlooked by Lykurgos … every man woman and child was given a clearly defined role in society and laws were enforced without regard to military rank or social standing … kings and shop keepers were held to the same standards.
Lykurgos was a driven man and did his best to have his new laws implemented without delay but he was also a reasonable and religious man. Lykurgos truly wanted what was best for Sparta and in that spirit, went to Delphi to ask the Pythia for Apollon's determination on his proposed innovations. The message from Apollon was unambiguous:
With the blessings of Apollon, Sparta became a strictly regimented military state virtually overnight.
Gyges consulted he Oracle at Delphi to justify the murder of the king of Lydia.
Gyges became involved with the queen of Lydia and by using blackmail, she maneuvered him into killing her husband, King Kandaules (Candaules). Not everyone in Lydia supported Gyges because he had not only killed their king, he had killed a descendant of Herakles (Heracles). When the resulting civil war became a stalemate, it was agreed that the Oracle at Delphi would decide the matter. The Pythia announced that Gyges should remain on the throne of Lydia, however it was not publically known that the Pythia also declared that Gyges's descendants would only rule for five generations.
Just as the Pythia had ordained, after five generations King Kroesus was the last king of Lydia in the bloodline of Gyges.
Kroesus (Croesus) was the king of Lydia from 560-546 BCE.
Kroesus wanted to know if oracles could be trusted but he did not want to appear disrespectful to the Immortals by doubting them. Kroesus sent messengers to several oracular sites with a specific question to be asked on a specific day and time. His question was essentially, "What am I doing right now?" Kroesus sent messengers to Abae, Dodona and Delphi as well as other Greek and foreign oracular sites. His messengers were instructed to ask the question, write down the response and then return to Lydia.
Kroesus read the various answers and the response from Delphi was the only correct one. The response from the Pythia was:
At the exact time the question was asked of the oracles, Kroesus had been cooking a tortoise and lamb in a covered bronze pot … the Pythia at Delphi described the event with uncanny accuracy. After that, Kroesus trusted the Oracle at Delphi completely.
As Kroesus became more aggressive, he set his sights on portions of the Persian Empire to his east. He consulted the Oracle at Delphi and was told: "… that if he should march against the Persians he should destroy a great empire."
Kroesus thought he understood the oracle and blundered into a war that he was destined to lose. Kroesus was taken prisoner by King Cyrus of Persia and sentenced to death. Kroesus was put on a pyre and the flames were lit … as Kroesus lamented his cruel fate, King Cyrus decided to spare him. Cyrus ordered his men to douse the flames but they could not. When Kroesus cried out for Apollon the save him, rain fell from a clear sky and put out the fire.
After talking to Kroesus, Cyrus realized that the defeated king was very intelligent and asked him to become his advisor … he also offered Kroesus anything he desired. Instead of asking for his freedom or his kingdom, Kroesus wanted to send an envoy to Delphi to demand an answer as to why Apollon had given him such an ambiguous prophecy. An envoy was dispatched and, when confronted, the Pythia said:
"The fated destiny it is impossible even for a god to escape. And Kroesus paid the debt due for the sin of his fifth ancestor, who being one of the spearmen of the Herakleidai followed the treacherous device of a woman, and having slain his master took possession of his royal dignity, which belonged not to him of right. And although Loxias eagerly desired that the calamity of Sardis might come upon the sons of Kroesus and not upon Kroesus himself, it was not possible for him to draw the Destinies aside from their course; but so much as these granted he brought to pass, and gave it as a gift to Kroesus: for he put off the taking of Sardis by three years; and let Kroesus be assured that he was taken prisoner later by these years than the fated time: moreover secondly, he assisted him when he was about to be burnt. And as to the oracle which was given, Kroesus finds fault with good ground: for Loxias told him beforehand that if he should march upon the Persians he should destroy a great empire: and he upon hearing this, if he wished to take counsel well, ought to have sent and asked further whether the god meant his own empire or that of Cyrus: but as he did not comprehend that which was uttered and did not ask again, let him pronounce himself to be the cause of that which followed."
Kroesus accepted his fate and resigned himself to be the slave of Persian kings until his death.
When King Xerxes of the Persian Empire invaded Greece in 480 BCE, his primary target was Athens. The Athenians had burned the Persian city of Sardis and Xerxes was determined to burn Athens … of course Xerxes was also determined to conquer every city in Greece even though most of them had done nothing to offend the Persian Empire.
Xerxes's advancing army and navy especially disturbed the Athenians so they sent an envoy to Delphi to seek guidance from Apollon. The Athenian representatives had performed the usual rites and were sitting in the sanctuary when a Pythia named Aristonike addressed them:
"Why do you sit, O you wretched? Flee to the uttermost limits, Leaving your home and the heights of the wheel-round city behind!"
The Athenians were distressed to hear such dire words from Apollon's priestess. A Delphian named Timon advised the Athenian representatives to enter the sanctuary as supplicants and beg for a better oracle … they were not disappointed when the Pythia said:
The wording of the oracle was confusing to some but Themistokles had no doubt as to the meaning … the "bulwark of wood" clearly meant that "ships" would be their protection … the reference to "Salamis, the divine" implied that the island would be their salvation … the "sons of women" who would perish mentioned in the oracle were going to be Persian men. Fortunately, the Athenians, at the urging of Themistokles, had recently built two hundred war ships … their "bulwark of wood" was ready.
The prophecy related by the Pythia was fulfilled when the Athenians engaged the Persian navy in the confining waters around Salamis. The Persians were tricked into thinking that the Greeks were going to flee and thus caught completely off-guard when the Greeks boldly attacked. The Persians had more ships but the familiar waters around Salamis gave the Greeks a decided advantage. The Persians were forced to retreat after suffering great losses of men and ships. Although Athens had been burned to the ground, the people of Athens survived and were able to return and rebuild their city.
Plutarch writes about Alexander's visit to Delphi and how he accosted the Pythia:
"And now, wishing to consult the god concerning the expedition against Asia, he went to Delphi; and since he chanced to come on one of the inauspicious days, when it is not lawful to deliver oracles, in the first place he sent a summons to the prophetess. And when she refused to perform her office and cited the law in her excuse, he went up himself and tried to drag her to the temple, whereupon, as if overcome by his ardor, she said: 'You are invincible, my son!' On hearing this, Alexander said he desired no further prophecy, but had from her the oracle which he wanted."
Plutarch's Lives, Alexander, 14.4
There is one documented case where the Pythia was bribed to lie. The traveler/historian Pausanias reported that circa 505 BCE, King Kleomenes (Cleomenes) of Sparta induced a Pythia to "adjust" her responses to suit his desires. The two kings of Sparta had always maintained the delicate balance of cooperation and antagonism but their differences were usually settled by the Spartan elders in accordance with their laws and for the good of Sparta rather than the benefit of any individual.
While Kleomenes had been out of the city with his army, King Demaratus began a slander campaign against him. Upon his return, Kleomenes initiated a series of intrigues for the deposition of King Demaratus. He bribed the Pythia to frame her response in accordance with his plans and eventually had Demaratus replaced as king.
Kleomenes then lapsed into a form of madness where he wounded and maimed himself with his own sword. Since Kleomenes was no stranger to disrespectful behavior towards the Gods, the root of his madness was variously blamed on his desecration of a precinct sacred to Artemis, his killing of supplicants seeking refuge in a sacred grove and, of course, bribing the Pythia. We are not told the fate of the Pythia who dishonored her position and lied in the name of Apollon but we can assume that her fate was as ignoble as her crime.
Hermes and Apollon were both sons of Zeus but Apollon was quite old when Hermes was born. The lives of Apollon and the schemer-god Hermes became intertwined immediately after Hermes's birth.
On the day he was born Hermes was hungry for adventure … he left his mother's cave and began to roam the countryside destined to cause some sort of mischief. He reached the mountains of Pieria and found the sacred grove of Apollon … he stole fifty cattle from Apollon's herd. Hermes cleverly disguised his footprints so that it would appear that an adult had been walking beside the cattle … he also made the cattle walk backwards so that it would look as if a they were coming instead of going.
At dawn of the next day Apollon began searching for his stolen cattle. He soon deduced that his cattle had been stolen by Hermes. Apollon went swiftly to Mount Kyllene and confronted the infant Hermes and threatened to cast him down into Tartaros (Tartarus) if he did not return the stolen cattle. Hermes found it easy to lie and declared that he knew nothing of the cattle. Apollon was not fooled by the posturing infant … he took Hermes from his crib and flew to Mount Olympos so that they could stand before Zeus and have the truth be known.
Zeus listened to Apollon's truthful account of the cattle theft but Hermes pretended innocence and said that he was only born yesterday and too young to know the ways of deceit and falsehood. Zeus laughed at the child's roguishness and commanded Hermes to take Apollon to the cattle. Hermes obeyed without hesitation and soon he and Apollon were at the place where the cattle had been hidden. Apollon was amazed that a mere infant had been able to kill two of the cattle and stretch their hides to dry in the sun. Hermes began to play the lyre he had invented on the day he was born, and again Apollon was amazed. Apollon said that he had danced and sang with the Muses but had never heard such beautiful music or seen such a masterful musician.
Apollon was impressed with the precocious child and promised Hermes many gifts as well as a place of renown amongst the Immortals. Hermes truly appreciated the kindness of Apollon and gave him the lyre as a token of his affection. With the blessing of Zeus, Apollon pronounced that Hermes would become the lord over lions, boars, dogs and all animal herds on the face of the earth. Apollon also made Hermes the messenger of Hades (lord of the Dead) but he would not give Hermes the gift of prophecy because that gift was his alone … only he was allowed to know the will of Zeus. As a minor concession, Apollon told Hermes that there were three virgin goddesses who could be of service to him … they lived under the folds of Mount Parnassos and would flitter about feeding on yellow honey … after they had eaten the honey, they would only speak the truth … if Hermes questioned them carefully he would learn many things. He would then have the power to impart these truths to men of his choosing for their benefit. Apollon also gave Hermes a beautiful golden staff with three branches to represent wealth and affluence. The staff would protect the young god against harm and enforce the laws of righteous words and actions.
When Hermes was a young man, he and Apollon were witness to the humiliation of Ares (god of War) at the hands of Hephaistos (Hephaestus). Ares had been secretly meeting with Hephaistos's wife Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and Hephaistos had devised a clever trap to catch them in the embrace of love. The trap was sprung and Ares and Aphrodite could not escape … Hephaistos called for the Immortals to come and see his disloyal wife and her lover in their humiliating situation. Apollon asked Hermes how he would feel if he were trapped in such an embarrassing position. The light-hearted Hermes replied that he would suffer thrice the bindings if only he could share the bed of Aphrodite the golden.
The lyre that Hermes gave to Apollon became one of his most treasured posessions. When Apollon leaves his shrine in Pytho and travels to Mount Olympos, the other gods and goddesses gather to hear the beautiful music he plays on the lyre … he sings with the Muses of the unending gifts the Immortals enjoy and the mortal plight of the people who must endure the pains of illness and the failings of old age. Hebe (goddess of Youth), the Graces, the Seasons, Harmonia and Aphrodite join hands and dance … the goddess Artemis, tall and enviable, sings to her brother's irresistible melodies.
Asklepios (Asclepius) was the son of Apollon and a mortal woman named Koronis (Coronis), daughter of King Phlegyas.
Asklepios was the greatest healer in the ancient world and the father of two Greek soldiers and healers who fought in the Trojan War … Machaon and Podaleirios.
His reputation was so widespread that he was revered as the god of medicine and healing. Several shrines were established in honor of Asklepios including one at Athens and another at the city of Epidaurus (Epidauros). Patients would sleep in the Temple of Asklepios and would either be cured during the night or would have dreams that would indicate the correct treatment for their ailments. Some people were healed with calming incantations, some were given potions and others were cured with surgery.
Koronis lived in Lakereia on the banks of Lake Boibias in Thessaly. Apollon took her as his lover and she became pregnant. Since the birth of Asklepios was at least one generation before the Trojan War, i.e. before circa 1280 BCE, it's understandable that there might be some confusion about the circumstances of his miraculous birth. Either of the following two accounts might be correct.
1) While she was pregnant, Koronis traveled with her father King Phlegyas to Epidaurus on the Peloponnesian Peninsula … for nine months she had managed to keep her pregnancy a secret from her father. When the child was born, she took it to a mountain that was called Myrtium at that time but was called Nipple circa 160 CE when this account was written … Koronis abandoned the baby on the mountain. True to the child's divine heritage, a watchdog went to the baby and protected him until Aresthanas the shepherd came on the scene … as he approached, lightning flashed from the child … Aresthanas assumed correctly that the baby was divine.
2) Koronis thought she could deceive Apollon and began having an illicit affair with a man named Ischys. When she and Ischys decided to get married, a crow flew to Apollon and informed him of Koronis's disgraceful intentions. Before Eileithyia (goddess of Childbirth) could bring Koronis to term, Apollon's sister Artemis killed the pregnant woman with a shower of golden arrows while she slept. Koronis was not the only one to die in the hail of arrows … many of Koronis's neighbors were also killed in the conflagration. When Koronis's relatives placed her on the funeral pyre and lit the flames, Apollon could not endure to have his offspring killed for the mother's irreverent deeds … he swooped down on the pyre, parted the flames, and rescued Asklepios from his dead mother's body … he then entrusted the infant to the Centaur Cheiron (Chiron) so that he could learn the art of healing.
Asklepios became a man of great renown … pilgrims came from all over Greece to find cures for their ailments and wounds. Asklepios became too enamored with his own abilities and finally committed an act of selfishness that angered Zeus beyond redemption. Instead of continuing to use his god-given abilities with gracious humility, Asklepios accepted gold for restoring a dead man to life. Zeus struck down Asklepios and the man he had resurrected with a flash of lightning and thus ended the life of the greatest healer of the ancient Greek world.
After Zeus killed Asklepios with a thunderbolt, Apollon wanted to strike back but he dared not attack Zeus directly … instead, he killed the Cyclopes who forged Zeus's thunderbolts. For his crime, Zeus sentenced Apollon to serve for one year as a slave for the king of Pherae in Thessaly, King Admetos (Admetus).
Admetos was a kind master and treated Apollon with respect … in repayment for such noble treatment, Apollon arranged for Admetos to marry a devoted woman named Alkestis (Alcestis).
When Apollon found out that Admetos was destined to die immediately after the marriage, he wooed the Eumenides (Fates) with wine until they agreed to allow Admetos to live … the Eumenides were not easily persuaded … they would only allow Admetos to live on the condition that someone else volunteer to die in his place. Alkestis loved her husband so much that she agreed to die for him.
As the drama in King Admetos's house was unfolding, Herakles (Heracles) arrived as a guest. Admetos treated him kindly but Herakles could tell that something was drastically wrong. When Admetos told Herakles the sad state of affairs, the otherwise stoic hero became inspired by Alkestis's selflessness … he left Admetos's house and rushed to intercept Thanatos (Death) as he was escorting Alkestis to the Underworld … Herakles persuaded Thanatos to release Alkestis and allow her to return to the land of the living to be reunited with Admetos.
The story of Niobe is meant to be a lesson in humility as well as an injunction against blasphemy.
Niobe was the daughter of Tantalos (Tantalus) and the sister Pelops, eponymous founder of the Peloponnesian Peninsula. She was the mother of seven sons and seven daughters, of which she was very proud … perhaps, too proud. She would frequently boast that she was more blessed with children than the goddess Leto … after all, Niobe had fourteen children and Leto had only two.
Leto became weary of Niobe's arrogant boasting and sent Apollon and Artemis to kill Niobe's children. Apollon and Artemis did as their mother commanded but it seems that only twelve of the children were slain. One daughter and one son survived because of their prayers to Leto … their names were Meliboea and Amyklas (Amyclas) … Meliboea was struck ghostly white from the frightening experience and was afterwards called Chloris (Pale).
Niobe was supposedly turned to stone and placed on Mount Sipylus to eternally weep for her children. When the traveler/historian Pausanias was on Mount Sipylus, he observed, "When you are near, it is a beetling crag with not the slightest resemblance to a woman, mourning or otherwise; but if you go further away you will think you see a woman in tears, with head bowed down."
Apollon and Artemis killing the children of Niobe.
Perhaps two of the most infamous prophecies ever received from Apollon concerned the kings of Thebes, Laius and Oedipus.
The first prophecy was given to King Laius … it was unambiguous … Apollon informed Laius that he would be killed by his son. In a foolish attempt to cheat the Fates, Laius and his wife Queen Iokaste (Jocasta) pierced the ankles of their newly born son and gave him to a servant with instructions to leave the hobbled baby in the wilderness to die. The servant could not carry out such a cowardly act and gave the child to a shepherd from a neighboring province. The child was finally presented to the king of the city of Corinth where he was named Oedipus and raised as part of the royal household … the name Oedipus means "swollen foot."
When Oedipus became a man, he went to Delphi where the Oracle of Apollon informed him that he was destined to kill his father. Oedipus vainly thought he too could cheat the Fates. Believing that the king of Corinth was his father, Oedipus left home and took the road to Thebes. He encountered a difficult old man on the road and an argument ensued … Oedipus killed the old man and all but one of his bodyguards … the old man was of course King Laius. Just as Apollon had foretold, Laius had been killed by his son and Oedipus had killed his father.
Herakles (Heracles) encountered Apollon and Artemis while he was completing his Third Labor, capturing the Keryneian Hind. At the command of his cousin Eurystheus, Herakles was required to capture an elusive deer (hind) with golden horns and return the sacred beast to Mycenae. The Keryneian Hind was sacred to Artemis and was named after a Peloponnesian river. Herakles spent a year searching for the elusive deer before he was able to capture it.
While returning the hind to Eurystheus, Herakles encountered Apollon and Artemis. They demanded the return of the sacred creature but Herakles successfully argued the justice of his quest and was allowed to complete his Labor with the blessings of Apollon and Artemis.
Artemis, Herakles and Apollon with the Keryneian Hind.
There was an incident where Herakles and Apollon "came to grips" over the possession of a tripod that had been dedicated at Apollon's temple at Delphi. Tripods were often presented to Apollon because of their artistic potential and the precious metals of which they were often made. In this case, it was not the beauty or value of the tripod that mattered … against all tradition and common sense, Herakles took a tripod out of the temple … he didn't necessarily "steal" it … he simply took it without permission.
Herakles went to Delphi with questions for Apollon but was turned away by the Pythia because he had been responsible for the death of a man named Iphitos (Iphitus). Herakles, Iphitos, and his brother Klytios (Clytius) had been fellow Argonauts … Herakles left the Argonauts before the Quest for the Golden Fleece was complete but Iphitos and Klytios stayed until the Quest was successfully concluded. Several years later, while Herakles was laying siege to the city of Tiryns, Iphitos was killed while defending the city.
When Herakles arrived at Delphi, a Pythia named Xenokleia (Xenocleia) refused to give a response to his questions … she cited the murder of Iphitos as the reason for her refusal. Herakles went into a rage … he snatched up a tripod and attempted to leave the temple with the prize. This is where the story either becomes dramatic or realistic.
The poets tell the story as the basis for a fight and struggle between Apollon and Herakles … there is ample artwork to support this scenario but the facts of the encounter might be otherwise.
As impulsive as Herakles could be, it's easy to believe that he took a tripod from Apollon's temple and then stormed out … however, it's equally easy to believe that when he was confronted by Apollon and asked to return the tripod, the ultimate hero complied without a fight. After the "struggle," Herakles returned to the temple and Xenokleia told him all he wished to know.
To further illustrate the cooperation between Apollon and Herakles, the people of Kythium (Cythium) say that their city had no human founder, but that Herakles and Apollon, when they were reconciled after their "strife" for the possession of the tripod, united to found the city.
Apollon and Herakles with the tripod.
Apollon played a significant role in the Trojan War. He was clearly on the side of the Trojans and aided Prince Hector in many ways. In the tenth year of the war, Apollon came to the defense of one of his priests and nearly destroyed the Achaean (Achaian) Greek encampment.
The Greeks would regularly go on raids to pillage the nearby cities and islands to maintain their supplies of food and slaves. When they raided the island of Lemnos, they took a young girl named Chryseis as a slave … she was awarded to the Greek commander, Agamemnon. The Greeks did not realize that Chryseis was the daughter of Apollon's priest, Chryses. When Chryses went to Agamemnon to beg for the return of his daughter, he was treated with insulting disrespect. Agamemnon went so far as to threaten to beat Chryses for daring to ask for his daughter.
Chryses prayed to Apollon for justice and his prayers were heard. Apollon stood offshore and rained arrows on the Greek encampment. Agamemnon called an assembly of the Greek commanders and soldiers because he did not understand why their camp was under attack by one of the Immortals. The seer Kalchas (Calchas) knew the answer and told Agamemnon that if the young girl was not returned to her father, Apollon would certainly destroy them. Agamemnon believed Kalchas and made immediate arrangements for the girl to be returned to her father accompanied by elaborate sacrifices to Apollon. Odysseus was assigned the task of returning the girl and supervising the sacrifice. Apollon was pleased and gave Odysseus a favorable wind so that he could sail swiftly from Lemnos to Troy.
Another Trojan who received the protection of Apollon was Aineias (Aeneas). Aineias was the son of Aphrodite and with Apollon and Aphrodite both protecting him it is no wonder that he was one of the few Trojan allies to survive the war. When the Greek soldier Diomedes attacked Aineias, Apollon stepped in and stood between the two men. With incredible bravado, Diomedes tried to charge past Apollon and attack Aineias. Apollon brushed Diomedes aside and warned him to retreat. Demonstrating more sense than bravado, Diomedes backed away from Aineias.
The goddess Athene (Athena) was on the side of the Greeks but that did not stop her from cooperating with Apollon to stop the continued bloodshed. The two Immortals devised a plan where Prince Hector would be allowed to fight one of the Greeks in one-to-one combat. The winner of the fight would decide the fate of the war. Hector was delighted with the idea and promised to strip the armor from whichever Greek soldier he defeated and dedicate it at the Temple of Apollon inside the walls of Troy. Since Achilles was not willing to help the Greeks because of his dispute with Agamemnon, Telamonian Aias (Ajax) was chosen to fight Hector. Apollon and Athene took the forms of vultures and perched in an oak tree to watch the fight. Aias was a powerful man and soon beat Hector to the ground. Hector was wounded severely before Apollon swooped down to save him. After removing Hector from the battlefield, Apollon took up the shield of Zeus and drove the Greeks back to their encampment. Hector was seriously wounded and at the brink of death when Apollon breathed life back into his body.
When Hector was revived and ready to return to the fighting, Apollon shrouded himself in a mist and marched in front of him until they reached the fence and ditch the Greeks had built to protect their ships. With Apollon brushing aside the Greek defenses, the protective wall was breached. The situation was becoming critical for the Greeks but Achilles would still not fight because of his argument with Agamemnon. Achilles's companion Patroklos (Patroclus) donned Achilles's armor and charged into the Trojans. The Greeks thought Achilles was back in the fighting and regained their courage … the Trojans also thought Achilles was back in the fighting and began to retreat.
Apollon gave what protection he could to the retreating Trojans but the appearance of Patroklos in Achilles's armor was devastating to the Trojan moral. Apollon stood before Patroklos and warned him to withdraw … he told Patroklos that it was not his destiny to breach the walls of Troy but Patroklos ignored the warning … he was obsessed with his own prowess and did not realize that he was on a headlong charge towards death. Apollon went to Hector in the guise of a man named Asios (Asius) and encouraged him to fight Patroklos … Apollon put valor in Hector's breast and urged him forward. When Patroklos finally confronted Hector, his fate became sealed. Apollon clouded himself in a mist and struck Patroklos in the back knocking the protective corselet from his armor. Hector stepped in to deliver the killing blow and stripped away Achilles's armor.
Another casualty of the fighting was a son of Zeus named Sarpedon. Although Sarpedon was loved by Zeus, it was necessary for him to die. One of the primary reasons for the protracted war at Troy was to rid the earth of the race of demigods … Sarpedon was a demigod. Zeus called Apollon to his side and told him to go to the battlefield to retrieve Sarpedon's body and return it to his home in Lykia (Licya) … Zeus wanted Sarpedon to have a funeral worthy of a hero. Apollon cleaned Sarpedon's body of the blood and gore, and returned him to his native land.
Apollon had been the constant protector of Hector throughout the Trojan War but when the time came for Hector to die, Apollon could not subvert the will of Zeus. After Hector killed Patroklos his death was inevitable. Patroklos had been Achilles's closest companion and after Patroklos's death Achilles swore an oath to kill Hector. Achilles plunged into the Trojan defenses and slaughtered his way to where Hector stood outside the city gates. Apollon urged Hector to stand and fight knowing full well that Hector was fated to die. When Achilles finally reached Hector, Apollon turned away and left Hector to the mercy of Athene … of course, she had none. Achilles killed Hector with unimaginable viciousness … in spite of the betrayal and brutality, Prince Hector died with honor.
When the fighting at Troy reached its peak, Zeus told the Immortals that they could enter the fray on whichever side they wished. Up until then, the Immortals were restricted by Zeus and could only influence the fighting rather than participate in the fighting … the difference was subtle and infractions were inevitable but it was necessary to keep the war going for ten years in order to kill as many heroes and demigods as possible. At one point, Apollon encountered his uncle Poseidon (lord of the Sea) on the battlefield. Poseidon was roaring through the Trojan defenses living up to his title Earth-Shaker … his presence was unmistakable. Apollon had once bragged that he would fight Poseidon if necessary but when the two gods stood face to face, Apollon decided that it would be best not to fight with his uncle. Apollon's sister Artemis chided her brother for not wanting to fight Poseidon but it was only in jest … she would never encourage Apollon to do something which would certainly do him harm.
The Trojan War was almost over but Apollon still had a major role to play before the war could end and the walls of Troy could be toppled. Achilles was one of the demigods slated to die at Troy but Zeus decided that he should have a glorious death that would make the name Achilles immortal and give honor to his mother, Thetis. The Greeks used the ruse of the Trojan Horse to gain access to the city and once the Greeks were inside the walls of Troy, they were unstoppable. Zeus would not allow a mortal man to kill Achilles so Apollon was given the task. With the aid of Prince Alexandros (Paris), Apollon killed Achilles. The exact circumstances of Achilles's death were not recorded in the ancient texts but later, perhaps embellished, accounts of his death say that he was killed at the Trojan Temple of Apollon with an arrow in the heel … Achilles supposedly bled to death from the wound. Other accounts imply that it was Prince Alexandros and not Apollon who shot the arrow that killed Achilles. I suggest that we simply accept the oldest accounts and assume that it was Apollon who killed Achilles. The slaying of Achilles was the last noble deed of the Trojan War because the slaughter and destruction that followed were the opposite of glorious and noble.
Apollon travels the earth and makes his presence known in many ways. He can be protective or incredibly vicious but his intentions are always in accordance with the will of Zeus.
Silenus Marsyas was a satyr who lost a contest of musical skills with Apollon and was flayed alive for his arrogance.
While traveling, Marsyas encountered Apollon and Dionysos (god of Wine) at Nysa. A competition arose between Apollon and Marsyas to test their musical skills … the Nysaeans were chosen to be the judges of the contest. Apollon went first and played his lyre but did not sing to accompany himself. Marsyas went next and played his flute to the amazement and delight of the Nysaean judges. At that point, if the contest had been over, Marsyas would have won the competition but they had agreed to take turns … when Apollon played his lyre again, he sang a beautiful melody in harmony with his lyre.
When Marsyas saw the favorable reaction of the judges towards Apollon's performance, he was outraged … he claimed that he had entered a test of skill which did not include the voice as an instrument … he claimed that Apollon was taking unfair advantage by adding the vocal accompaniment … he insisted that the judges should be required to choose only between the music of his flute and that of Apollon's lyre.
Apollon replied that using his voice was no different than Marsyas using his breath to play the flute … he reasoned that they both used their hands and their breath in the contest and that if he could not use his breath to sing, Marsyas should not be allowed to use his breath to play the flute … the judges agreed with Apollon and declared him the winner of the contest.
Although victorious, Apollon was embittered by Marsyas's quarreling and flayed him alive … his skin was displayed in the marketplace of Kelaenae (Celaenae). Apollon regretted his brutality and broke the strings of his lyre, destroying their harmony … he then placed his lyre and Marsyas's flute in the cave of Dionysos as a votive offering.
Mopsos (Mopsus) was one of the Argonauts … he was accepted into that elite band of adventures because he had been taught the augury of birds by Apollon. When the Argonauts were stranded in the Libyan desert, Mopsos stepped on the tail of a serpent and was bitten on the leg … he died almost instantly.
The serpent was no ordinary snake … it was a nameless, supernatural beast born from the drops of blood that dripped from Medusa's severed head onto the desert sands when Perseus was flying across Libya trying to escape Medusa's sisters.
The Giants waged an unsuccessful war on the Olympians and were severely punished after their defeat. The poet Hesiod states that the Giants were banished to the Underworld but Apollodorus of Athens clearly describes the brutal death of the Giants.
Most of the Immortals from Mount Olympos were involved in the war but Zeus's son Herakles killed most of the Giants. Apollon and Herakles fought together to kill the Giant Ephialtes … they both used bows and arrows … Apollon shot Ephialtes in the left eye, Herakles in the right.
After the Trojan War was over and the victorious Greeks were sailing homeward, Apollon struck one last deadly blow.
Helen of Argos was called Helen of Troy so that she could be blamed for the Trojan War … Helen was not the cause of the war but she became the focus of a considerable amount of hostility … including the animosity of Apollon. By making her 'Helen of Troy' she became an enemy of the Greeks instead of what she actually was … the kidnaped queen of Sparta. When Helen and her Spartan husband Menelaos (Menelaus) were sailing home after the war, Apollon struck down one of their best crewmen, setting the stage for the death of Menelaos's brother, Agamemnon. As Menelaos and Helen were sailing around the Cape of Athens (Holy Sunium) Apollon killed the helmsman Phrontis with a painless arrow.
As Phrontis's commander, Menelaos was required by tradition to halt his homeward journey and give his worthy companion the burial rites suitable for a warrior of his caliber. The delay separated Menelaos and Helen from the other victorious Greeks who were also sailing home. Without Phrontis at the helm, Menelaos's ships were blown off course and finally made a belated landfall in Egypt. The delay provided an opportunity for a murderous plot to be instigated against Menelaos's brother, Agamemnon. With Menelaos out of the way, Agamemnon's cousin and wife, Aigisthos (Aegisthus) and Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), literally got away with murder and took over the kingdom of Mycenae.
A semi-divine race was shaped and nurtured by the Immortals to insure the future of the Greek people. The leader of this race was descended from Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Giants … his name was Nausithoos, lord of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians).
Nausithoos had two male children, Alkinoos (Alcinous) and Rhexenor. Alkinoos remained unmarried but Rhexenor married and had a daughter named Arete. For reasons known only to the Immortals, Apollon killed Rhexenor with a shower of painless arrows … Alkinoos married Arete and they became king and queen of the Phaiakians. The deadly arrows of Apollon set the stage for the culmination of two of the most important events in Greek history, i.e. the Quest for Golden Fleece and the Trojan War.
A generation before the Trojan War, the Argonauts sailed on their Quest for the Golden Fleece. After stealing the Golden Fleece from King Aietes (Aeetes) in the distant land of Kolchis (Colchis) on the eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea), Jason, Princess Medeia and the Argonauts were chased by the Kolchians to the island of Scheria … the home of the Phaiakians. The Kolchians demanded that Princess Medeia be surrendered to them but Queen Arete offered a solution that would protect Jason and Princess Medeia as well as force King Aietes to withdraw his demands that his daughter be returned to him. Queen Arete's reasoning was that if Jason and Medeia were married, King Aietes would have no claim to his daughter. Jason and Medeia were married and the dispute was resolved.
After the Trojan War had been over for ten years, Odysseus was washed ashore on the island of the Phaiakians. After years of punishment by the god Poseidon, Odysseus was reduced to the state of a beggar … he was dressed in rags and had no proof of his true identity. King Alkinoos and Queen Arete were immediately sympathetic to poor Odysseus. He knelt before them and asked for a fast ship to take him to his homeland … they complied and Odysseus was allowed to return to his home.
As is often the case, the Immortals work together to achieve great or subtle ends. In the case of the Phaiakians, Poseidon founded their race, Apollon refined it, Athene and Hera worked out the details of the survival of the Argonauts and Odysseus.
After being given sanctuary by King Alkinoos (Alcinous) and Queen Arete, Odysseus was invited to compete against some of the Phaiakian men in athletic competitions … he took up the polished bow and said that his skills were as good as any mortal man but he would never compare himself to heroes like Herakles (Heracles) or Eurytos. Odysseus goes on to say that Eurytos did not live to enjoy his property and fame because he challenged Apollon in archery … Apollon killed him for his effrontery.
Apollon was asked to intervene when the two monstrous sons of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Iphimedeia threatened to attack the Immortals on Mount Olympos (Olympus). These boisterous youths, Otos (Otus) and Ephialtes, were the tallest men ever to walk the earth. They were almost as handsome as the famous hunter Orion but they were too loud and too proud for the Immortals to tolerate. They threatened to uproot mountains and pile them up against Mount Olympos so they could climb into the precincts of the Immortals. Zeus believed they could, when grown to full stature, fulfill their threat if they were not stopped. Zeus sent Apollon to kill the dangerous youths before they were old enough to do any harm.
Prince Meleagros (Meleager) was the son of King Oineus and Queen Althaia of Kalydon (Calydon) … he lived and died prior to the Trojan War, i.e. before 1250 BCE. When Meleagros was born, an oracle informed Queen Althaia that her new son would die as soon as the wood in the hearth was burned away. Wishing to save her son, Althaia extinguished the fire and preserved the unburned wood. When Meleagros became an adult, Althaia had reason to burn the wood and end her son's life … Apollon would become the instrument of Meleagros's death.
When Meleagros was a young man, Kalydon was the site of what became known as the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt. King Oineus insulted the goddess Artemis by neglecting to offer her the first-fruits of Kalydon's harvest. Artemis demonstrated her displeasure by sending a savage boar to ravage the Kalydonian orchards.
The boar that Artemis sent was in no way ordinary … it was so fierce that no single person could master it. Meleagros assembled a hunting party of the most noble and bravest fighters in all of Greece … included in the hunt was the beautiful virgin huntress, Atalanta … she was the first to wound the boar but the beast was finally killed by Meleagros.
Meleagros awarded the boar-skin to Atalanta as a tribute to her bravery but his mother's brother (or brothers) tried to take the prize away from Atalanta. Meleagros killed his uncle(s) for the insult to his authority and his mother became inconsolable … she called upon the lords of darkness to avenge the death of her brother(s) and burned the wood she had saved since the time of Meleagros's birth … the oracle was fulfilled with Apollon as the instrument of Fate … he killed Meleagros.
Syria (Syrie) was the island home of Eumaios (Eumaeus), the swineherd of Odysseus.
Syria was near the island of Ortygia which is in the harbor of the city of Syracuse on the island if Sicily. The inhabitants of Syria lived long and peaceful lives but when they reached old age, Apollon and Artemis killed them with painless arrows.
Apollon was given the surname Lykios (Lycius) meaning Wolf-God for a very practical reason. While traveling in Sikyon (Sicyon) circa 160 CE, the traveler/historian Pausanias saw the ruined sanctuary of Apollon Lykios … the sanctuary had been neglected because its purpose had been served and it was no longer necessary to worship Apollon as the Wolf-God.
Wolves had once preyed upon the flocks of the Sikyonians to such an extent that their efforts became profitless. Apollon revealed to them the location of a dry log that would work as a poison against the wolves. Following Apollon's instructions, the bark from the log was mixed with meat and left for the wolves to eat. The poison killed the wolves and Apollon was given the surname Lykios.
Even thought the sanctuary of Apollon was in ruins when Pausanias saw it, the log was still in the sanctuary but no one seemed to know kind of tree it was.
Kassandra (Cassandra) was the daughter of the king and queen of Troy, Priam and Hekabe (Hecabe). She was a devoted daughter but she made the tragic mistake of being unappreciative of Apollon's romantic advances … she rejected Apollon and thus suffered a life of rejection and slavery.
Apollon gave Kassandra the gift of prophecy but he also cursed her so that no one would believe what she predicted. Kassandra's life at Troy was misery because she could foresee the Trojan defeat but couldn't save her city or family. After the war Kassandra was taken as a slave by the Greek commander, Agamemnon. When she arrived at Mycenae with Agamemnon, she correctly predicted his murder but of course he would not believe her.
The area named after Apollon's lover Kyrene (Cyrene) in Libya was not colonized by the Greeks until 630 BCE … Kyrene was settled by an expedition from the island of Thera … an expedition instigated by Apollon through the Pythia at Delphi.
King Grinnus of Thera was commanded by the Pythia to found a colony in Libya but he felt that he was too old and did not do as he was instructed. As a result of Grinnus's disobedience, Thera was cursed with seven years of drought. When the Pythia was consulted about the draught, she again said that it was Apollon's command that the Therans establish a colony in Libya.
Even though King Grinnus had not obeyed the Pythia, it seems that everything was proceeding according to Apollon's design. During the second consultation with the Pythia, she referred to the Theran envoy as Battus (Battos) … we can confidently assume that Battus was the name the Pythia gave him and not his actual name … Battus means "Stammerer" in Greek … the Theran envoy had a speech impediment so it would seem that the Pythia named him correctly. Also, Battus meant "King" in the Libyan language … when the Pythia referred to the young Theran by the name Battus, she obviously knew his past and future.
After some delays and several more consultations with the Pythia at Delphi, Kyrene was settled in Libya by Battus … his descendants ruled Kyrene for eight generations.
At the prompting of Apollon, the city of Thebes was founded by Prince Kadmos (Cadmus) of Tyre.
Zeus abducted Princess Europa from Tyre and her brother Kadmos began an exhaustive search to bring his sister home. When he could not find her, Kadmos went to Delphi for help. The Pythia told him that he would never find Europa … she said that when he left the sanctuary of Apollon he would see a cow … he should follow the cow until it laid down … at that place, he was told to build a new city. Kadmos did as he was instructed and the city of Thebes was founded.
Daphne was a virgin Nymph who did not want to become Apollon's consort … in fact, she didn't want a romantic relationship with anyone … god or mortal man.
When a young man named Leukippus (Leucippus) fell in love with Daphne, his reward was to be killed by Daphne and her Nymph companions. Daphne was saved from Apollon's embrace by the river god Peneios (Peneus) … he transformed Daphne into a laurel tree.
Laomedon was the father of the last king of the city of Troy, Priam.
When Laomedon was the king of Troy, Zeus commanded Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Apollon to serve him for one year. Poseidon built the walls of Troy and Apollon tended Laomedon's herds. When their service was over, Laomedon refused to pay for their services and threatened to sell them into slavery. Apollon was more inclined to forgive the insult but Poseidon would not forgive or forget. When the final battle for Troy was fought, Poseidon fought fiercely on the side of the Argives and helped topple the walls that he had built.
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra) of Mycenae but after the Trojan War ended (circa 1240 BCE), his mother and uncle murdered his father. Orestes was quite young when his father was assassinated so he was forced to go into hiding for his own safety. When the became a young man, he consulted an oracle of Apollon … he was told that the time was right for him to exact revenge for his father's death and that it was his duty to kill his mother and uncle.
Orestes killed Klytemnestra and Aegisthus, and was saved from any retribution by Apollon and Athene.
King Midas of Phrygia in Asia Minor had several curses he had to deal with … one of his curses came from Apollon.
King Midas is most famous for having the Golden Touch which was a curse he received from Dionysos for being greedy but Midas also insulted Apollon and was afflicted with a physical deformity that caused him a great deal of embarrassment.
Midas served as the judge of a musical contest in which Apollon was a contestant. Foolishly, Midas did not give Apollon the first prize in the contest and was punished by having his ears changed into those of an ass. Midas concealed the disgraceful ears from everyone except his barber who was sworn to secrecy. The barber, of course, could not keep such a secret so he dug a hole in the ground and whispered the secret into the hole … the reeds that grew from that hole speak the secret of Midas's ears whenever the wind blows.
Delphi was the most famous Oracle of Apollon but there were other cities where Apollon resided and spoke through priests and priestesses.
Abae (Abai) was the site of the oracular shrine of Apollon in Phokis (Phocis). The people of Abae claimed to have originally come from Argos and that their city was named after Abas, a son of Lynkeus (Lynceus) and of Hypermnestra, the daughter of Danaus.
When King Xerxes of Persia invaded Greece in 480 BCE, he burned many of the Phokian cities including Abae. After the Persians were forced out of Greece, the inhabitants of Abae refused to rebuild the original Temple of Apollon so that they could remember their hatred of the Persians and the sacrilege they committed. The Temple of Apollon was burned a second time by the Thebans and very little of the original structure survived. A smaller Temple of Apollon was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and decorated with old bronze statues of Apollon, his sister Artemis and his mother Leto.
Trophonius (Trophonios) was a renowned builder but he was best known as the Oracle of Trophonius at Lebadeia, Boeotia. Trophonius's father was generally thought to be a man named Erginus but there was also the sincere belief that his father was Apollon.
After the tragic death of his brother Agamedes, the earth opened and swallowed up Trophonius in the Grove of Lebadeia at the so-called Pit of Agamedes. The grove became known as the Grove of Trophonius … the Oracle of Trophonius was located up the mountain from the grove.
The Boeotians learned of the Oracle of Trophonius from the Oracle at Delphi. Although the Boeotians knew Lebadeia very well, they had never heard of the Oracle of Trophonius. They went to Lebadeia and began searching for the oracle. The eldest of their group, a man named Saon, saw a swarm of bees fly into a hole in the ground. Saon followed the bees and discovered the oracle … Trophonius taught Saon the rituals and observances to be kept at the oracle.
The establishment of the Oracle of Trophonius at Lebadeia can be confidently dated circa 1310 BCE.
The Egyptians knew Apollon by the name Horus. There were oracles for Apollon, Artemis and Leto at the Egyptian city of Buto … Leto was most honored of the three. Apollon was the last god-king of Egypt … after Apollon, mortal men were given kingship as his representative.
There was an oracle of Ismenian Apollon at Thebes that was briefly mentioned in the ancient texts. The historian Herodotus says only that, "there one may consult just as at Olympia with victims." We also know that a man named Mys from Europos consulted the Oracle of Apollon at Thebes as well as Abae and Lebadeia. The questions he asked are not known but a curious thing happened when he went to the Oracle of Ptoan Apollo.
A man named Mys from Europos was making the rounds, so to speak, of the oracles sites in eastern Greece. He consulted the Oracle of Apollon at Thebes, Abae, Lebadeia and finally the Oracle of Ptoan Apollo, located above the Lake Kopais (Copais) at the foot of the mountains, close to the town of Akraiphia (Acraiphia).
When Mys went to the Oracle of Ptoan Apollo, three men were chosen from the citizens of Thebes and sent by the public authority to write down the words of the oracle. The men were ready to perform their function when the oracle began to speak in a foreign ("barbarian") tongue … Mys took the tablet from the envoys and wrote down what the oracle said … he did not inform the Thebans what the oracle said but did say that it had been in the Karian (Carian) language. Mys, apparently satisfied with his encounters with the oracles, departed Thessaly.
There was an oracular site at Larissa where Apollon was referred to as Apollon Deiradiotes, because the place was called Deiras (Ridge). The temple and shrine were first built by a man named Pythaeus, when he came from Delphi.
When the traveler/historian Pausanias visited Larissa (circa 160 CE), the oracles were still being delivered by a woman who was forbidden to have intimate relations with a man … each month a lamb was sacrificed at night and the woman tasted the blood of the lamb to become inspired by Apollon and deliver prophecy.
Oropus (Oropos) was the site of the primary oracular shrine of Amphiaraus (Amphiaraos). The cult of Amphiaraus was first established at Oropus but eventually became popular throughout Greece. During his life, Amphiaraus had been a respected seer but it was his miraculous death that elevated him to divine stature. Amphiaraus's death can be tentatively dated as 1280 BCE, which would be approximately one generation before the Trojan War.
Amphiaraus was one of the seven commanders of the doomed army that attacked Thebes in the war between the sons of Oedipus … the army was known as the Seven Against Thebes. As a seer, Amphiaraus had foreknowledge of his death and knew it was his destiny to die at Thebes. During the battle, Amphiaraus, with his chariot and horses, were swallowed-up by the earth at a place near Thebes called The Chariot.
After the establishment of the shrine, supplicants would sleep in the Temple of Amphiaraus to receive healing dreams and visions of the future from Apollon. Oropus is located near the eastern coast of Boeotia very close to the northern border of Attica. Amphiaraus's oracular shrine was used well into Roman times before it was destroyed.
There are times when the approval of the Immortals is very important to individuals and groups. Apollon usually reveals his will through the Oracle at Delphi but there are times when he shows his intentions through signs and personal encounters.
Idmon was raised by a man named Abas in Argos but his true father was Apollon. Idmon learned the art of divination from Apollon and could read signs from birds and in burnt offerings.
Kalchas (Calchas) was a seer who had been given his powers by lord Apollon. Kalchas used his prophetic gifts to aid the Greeks throughout the Trojan War even though his benefactor was clearly on the side of the Trojans.
When the Greeks were massing for the attack on Troy, the fleet stopped at the port of Aulis … they were subsequently stranded at Aulis because the Greek commander Agamemnon inadvertently insulted the goddess Artemis. Kalchas said that unless Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphianassa to Artemis, the fleet would not be allowed to leave Aulis. Iphianassa was summoned from Mycenae on the pretext that she would marry Achilles but when the girl was about to be sacrificially killed, Artemis substituted a stag in her place and removed her to Tauris where she remained until Agamemnon's son Orestes and companion Pylades rescued her.
While the Greeks were at Aulis, a truly remarkable thing happened during the course of an elaborate sacrifice. A snake appeared from under the altar … the snake was a thing of horror with its back mottled with blood. It was clear to all those present that the snake had been sent by Zeus with a prophetic message. The snake slithered to the top of a nearby tree where a mother sparrow lorded over a nest of eight chicks. The snake ate each of the chicks despite their pitiful screaming. Finally the snake grabbed the mother by the wing and ate her too. In order to prove to the men watching the spectacle that the vision was of divine origin, the snake turned to stone. Kalchas correctly reasoned that each of the nine birds symbolized a year of fighting at Troy and that the Trojans would finally be defeated in the tenth year of the war.
After the Trojan War had been over for ten years (circa 1230 BCE), Odysseus had not returned to his island home of Ithaka (Ithaca). Odysseus's son Telemachos (Telemachus) was in dire need of guidance because he did not know whether his father was dead or alive. The goddess Athene tried to guide Telemachos but her intervention was usually, but not always, too subtle.
The home of Odysseus had been invaded by a group of suitors seeking to marry Odysseus's wife Penelope … the excesses of the suitors had become a curse on Telemachos and his mother. There were many people in Ithaka who were dismissive of Telemachos because he was young but there were others who recognized the potential greatness of the young man … after all, he was the son of the resourceful and dynamic Odysseus.
At a meeting of the men of Ithaka, Apollon sent a message to demonstrate his divine protection of Telemachos. A falcon flew overhead and snatched a pigeon out of the air … the falcon proceeded to rip the pigeon to pieces and shower the men below with feathers and blood.
The entire assembly witnessed the event and a companion of Telemachos named Theoklymenos (Theoclymenus) proclaimed that it was a favorable sign sent from Apollon to show the men of Ithaka what would happen to the insolent suitors who were abusing the hospitality of Odysseus's son and wife.
When Odysseus returned to Ithaka, the suitors suffered just as Apollon had predicted. Odysseus, Telemachos and a few faithful servants literally slaughtered the suitors and their female consorts … the pigeon that had been torn to shreds by the falcon clearly demonstrated Apollon's knowledge of future events as well as his concern for individuals such as Telemachos.
A generation before the Trojan War, Jason led a group of the greatest heroes in ancient Greece on the Quest for the Golden Fleece. The men who accompanied Jason to the remote land of Kolchis (Colchis) to retrieve the Golden Fleece became known as the Argonauts.
Before leaving on the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason consulted the Oracle at Delphi and was told that he would accomplish his mission. He was given three tripods that Apollon intended for Jason to use to insure his safety and success.
Although the goddesses Athene and Hera were the primary protectors of the Argonauts, Jason never failed to give thanks and homage to Apollon. He built altars to Apollon Embasius (god of Embarkation) and Apollon Ekbasian and Ekbasius (god of Disembarkation) to show his respect. When the beleaguered Argonauts were on the island of Thynias, they saw Apollon arrive on the island from the sky. The Argonauts were so humbled by the vision of the god, they built an altar and renamed the island The Sacred Isle of Apollon of the Dawn.
Apollon honored and blessed the Argonauts in many ways but perhaps the most dramatic example was when the Argonauts were trying to sail from the island of Crete to the Greek mainland. A very dense fog surrounded their ship and even blotted out the stars in the sky. Jason prayed to Phoibos to save them. Apollon heard Jason's sincere plea and created a beacon in the foggy murk to lead the Argonauts to a nearby island. The Argonauts built an altar to Apollon the Gleamer and named the island Anaphe, The Isle of Revealing.
Aethusa was the daughter of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the consort of Apollon … she and Apollon had one son named Eleuther. After four generations, a descendant of Aethusa named Poemander married Tanagra, the daughter of Aeolus (Aiolos) or Asopos (Asopus) … Poemander established himself as the ruler of a district in Boeotia that he named after Tanagra.
It was also believed that the poet Hesiod could trace his heritage back to Apollon and Aethusa.
The maiden Akakallis (Acacallis) and Apollon had a son named Amphithemis, who became the father of Kaphauros (Caphaurus). Kaphauros killed the Argonaut Kanthos (Canthus) in Libya.
Aria is a Nymph and the mother of Miletos (Miletus) by Apollon.
Miletos was the eponymous founder of the city Miletos, in Karia (Caria), on the coast of the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor near the Maeander River.
The story of Chrysorthe and Apollon is touching and strange. Chrysorthe's grandfather was a man named Plemnaeus … all children born to Plemnaeus and his wife died the first time they cried. The goddess Demeter took pity on Plemnaeus and, in the guise of a strange woman, reared a son for Plemnaeus. As a goddess, Demeter could sooth the child so it would not cry and thus not die. The boy's name was Orthopolis.
Chrysorthe was the daughter of Orthopolis … she became the consort of Apollon and they had a son named Koronos (Coronus) who in turn had two sons, Korax (Corax) and a younger one Lamedon.
Herophile was a gifted seer who lived before the Trojan War which means that she lived prior to 1250 BCE. She foretold that Helen would be from Sparta and become the ruin of Asia and Europe, and that for Helen's sake, the Greeks would capture Troy.
When the traveler/historian Pausanias visited Delos he observed that the Delians remembered a hymn that Herophile composed to Apollon. In her poem she called herself not only Herophile but also Artemis, and the wedded wife of Apollon, saying that sometimes she is his sister, and sometimes she is his daughter. The inhabitants of Alexandria (near Troy) say that Herophile became the attendant of the Temple of Apollon Smintheus (Apollon of Smintheus, a town near Troy). On the occasion of a dream of Queen Hekabe's (Hecabe's) (of Troy) Herophile uttered the prophecy that we know was actually fulfilled.
Hyakinthus (Hyacinthus) was a young man who was loved by Apollon … unfortunately, he was accidentally killed by Apollon. From his blood sprang the hyacinth (a bulbous plant of the Lily family).
Magnes, the eponymous founder of Magnesia in Thessaly, had a beautiful young son named Hymenaeus. While visiting with Magnes, Apollon lingered overlong so he could be with Hymenaeus. The infant Hermes stole Apollon's cattle while he was thus distracted.
Of all the young women Apollon "carried off," one name stands out because her father would not let his daughter go without a fight.
Kleopatra (Cleopatra) was the daughter of Marpessa and Idas … Marpessa was the daughter of the river god Euenos so she was semi-divine … Kleopatra would have been one-eighth immortal. When Apollon abducted Kleopatra, the poor girl's mother cried with such a sorrowful sound, Kleopatra became known as Alkyone, i.e. sea bird. Idas was relentless in his quest to bring his daughter home and finally succeeded.
Korykia (Corycia) is a Nymph who became the consort of Apollon. She and Apollon had a son named Lykoros (Lycorus). The city of Lykoreia (Lycoreia) was named after Lykoros and the Korykian (Corycian) Cave on Mount Parnassos (Parnassus) was named after Korykia. The Korykian Cave is sacred to Pan and his Nymphs.
Kreusa (Creusa) became the consort of Apollon, and what might have become a tragic story turned out to be blessing for the Greek nations.
Kreusa and Apollon had a son but Kreusa abandoned the semi-divine child in a cave. Since there is no such thing as "coincidence" when the Immortals are involved, Hermes found the abandoned infant and took him to Delphi where the child was given a home … he was named Ion.
Kreusa eventually married a mortal man named Xuthus but try as they might, they could not have children. Kreusa and Xuthus went to the Temple of Apollon at Delphi to ask for the assistance of the god. The Pythia told them that they would have a child if they followed her instructions … the Pythia told them to adopt the first child they encountered when they left the sanctuary … Kreusa and Xuthus encountered Ion.
Kreusa thought she recognized the young boy and assumed that he was a child of Xuthus born out of wedlock. Jealousy consumed Kreusa and she began plotting to kill the child but before she could carry out her ill-conceived plan, the Pythia showed her the swaddling clothing in which the infant had wrapped when he was brought to the temple by Hermes.
Kreusa recognized the swaddling clothing and accepted the fact that Ion was her abandoned child. She and Xuthus took the child to Athens where, according to the goddess Athene, a prophecy had been fulfilled in which Ion would become the founder of the Ionian race.
Kybele (Cybele) was a woman from Phrygia who had a very difficult and interesting upbringing. As an infant, her parents abandoned her on Mount Kybelos (Cybelus). Wild animals nurtured the helpless child until several shepherd women discovered her and gave her a home. The nameless baby was called Kybele after the mountain on which she had been found.
Kybele matured into beautiful and talented woman, and finally became noticed by the parents who had abandoned her as an infant. Her father killed Kybele's lover and the distraught woman ran into the countryside acting like a lunatic. The musician Marsyas followed Kybele in her wanderings until they came to Nysa where they encountered Dionysos (god of Wine) and Apollon. Marsyas became entangled in a dispute with Apollon and was flayed alive for his argumentative behavior. It would seem that during the course of her wanderings, Kybele regained her sanity. Apollon became attracted to her because she was a skilled healer and an innovative musician. The two of them traveled together and went as far as the lands of the Hyperboreans.
Kyrene was a young maiden who lived in the district of Elis on the Peloponnesian Peninsula … Apollon saw her and became infatuated. He took her as his lover, removed her to Libya and transformed her into a Nymph so that she could have a long life and live as one of the Immortals. Kyrene and Apollon had a son that they named Aristaios.
After Aristaios was born, Apollon gave him to Nymphs to be reared … besides the name Apollon gave him, the Nymphs called him by two other names: Nomius (Shepherd) and Agreus (Hunter). The Nymphs taught Aristaios how to curdle milk, make beehives, and cultivate olive trees. Aristaios was the first to instruct men in these matters.
Circa 630 BCE, at the command of the Pythia at Delphi, colonists from the island of Thera (now Santorini) built a city in Libya at a place called Apollon's Spring and named the city after Kyrene.
The story of the relationship between Psamathe and Apollon is a very sad tale. Psamathe was the daughter of King Krotopos (Crotopus) of Argos. As the consort and lover Apollon, she eventually became pregnant. Psamathe was in such fear of her father that when she had Apollon's child, she abandoned the infant in the wilderness where it would die from exposure. The child did not live long enough to die from the elements … it was set upon by the sheepdogs of King Krotopos and died a horrible death. The child's name was Linus (Linos) … not to be confused with the poet by the same name who lived much later.
Apollon was outraged by such a despicable act. He sent Nemesis (Devine Retribution) to Argos to punish not just Psamathe and King Krotopos, but all Argives. Nemesis responded by snatching children away from their mothers until an Argive named Koroebos (Coroebus) attacked (some say, killed) Nemesis. At that point, the wrath of the Immortals became a plague upon the people of Argos. To have the plague lifted and to atone for the crime of Psamathe and his own sacrilegious behavior against Nemesis, Koroebos went to Delphi and submitted himself to Apollon for punishment.
As part of his punishment, the Pythia told Koroebos that he could not to return to his home in Argos. She gave him instructions as to how he would find his new home and be forgiven for his crime against Nemesis. He was told to take up a tripod from the sanctuary at Delphi and carry it until it fell from his hands … at the spot where the tripod fell, Koroebos was instructed to build a Temple of Apollon. Koroebos walked south and east from Delphi … he went around the eastern edge of the Gulf of Corinth and finally came to Mount Gerania … near the mountain, the tripod slipped from his hands and Koroebos faithfully fulfilled the Pythia's command by building a Temple of Apollon … Koroebos's new home became the village of Tripodiskous (Little Tripods).
The river Asopos (Asopus) had a daughter named Sinope. Apollon carried Sinope away to a peninsula on the southern-central edge of the Euxine (Black Sea) … the place was named Sinope after her. She and Apollon had a son named Syrus who became the eponymous founder of the Syrians.
Syllis is a Nymph who became the consort of Apollon. She and Apollon had a son named Zeuxippus who became the king of Crete just prior to the Trojan War … that would mean that Zeuxippus lived circa 1260 BCE.
In The Great Eoiae (fragment 13) the six-headed beast Skylla (Scylla) was said to have been the offspring of Apollon and the Roaring-Goddess Hekate (Hecate). Skylla was an important character in The Odyssey and The Argonautika where Hekate is listed as her mother but we are not told the name of her father. Skylla had quite a reputation as a murderous beast … she attacked and killed sailors if they happened to come near her lair … Skylla seems to be unlike any of Apollon's other children.
Thelpusa is the Nymph daughter of the god of the river Ladon … the spring she inhabits is located in Arkadia (Arcadia) in the central Peloponnese not far from the modern town of Tropaea.
The traveler/historian Pausanias speculated that the reason laurel leaves are used as prizes for the Pythian Games is because of Apollon's love for Thelpusa.
There is some confusion about Thero but if we accept the reference to her in The Great Eoiae, she "lay in the embrace of Apollon and their son was horse-taming Chaeron."
The traveler/historian Pausanias states that the Greeks did not know of Thero but goes on to say that the Spartans surname Ares (god of War) Theritas (the Beastly One) after Thero, who is said to have been the nurse of Ares. Pausanias seemed to think that it was from the Kolchians (Colchians) that the Spartans heard the name Theritas.
Pausanias, book 3 (Lakonia) 19.7 and 19.8
The Hyperboreans are a race of people who live in a land of perpetual sunshine and abundance beyond the abode of Boreas (North Wind). Apollon has a special relationship with the Hyperboreans that goes back to a time before his birth.
It was believed that Apollon's mother Leto was born on an island in the domain of the Hyperboreans. The residents of that (unnamed) island are priests of Apollon and their lives are devoted to his worship. There is a sacred precinct of Apollon on the island with a spherical shaped temple.
The exact location of the home of the Hyperboreans is unknown but the poet Pindar refers to the "shady springs of the Danube" as being part of their domain and calls the Hyperboreans "the servants of Apollon." Pindar also says, "Neither by ship nor on foot could you find the marvelous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans" … the inference being that their home is beyond the reach of any mortal traveler.
Representatives of the Hyperboreans visited Apollon's island of Delos on several documented occasions.
The Hyperboreans sent two maidens to Delos in the very distant past to make offerings, their names were Arge and Opis and they arrived on Delos accompanied by some unnamed Immortals. Arge and Opis stayed on Delos until they died and were buried behind the Temple of Artemis. This brings up an interesting mystery because when Arge and Opis arrived on Delos, Apollon had not been born and thus the temples of Apollon and his sister Artemis were not in existence at that time. We are left with at least three possible explanations as to how Arge and Opis were buried behind the Temple of Artemis: 1) the Temple of Artemis was built in front of the graves of Arge and Opis, 2) the remains of Arge and Opis were moved from their original place of rest and re-buried behind Artemis's temple, or 3) Arge and Opis lived a very long time and did not die until after the Temple of Artemis had been built. To honor Arge and Opis, the women of Delos were noted for singing a special hymn composed by a Lykian named Olen that named the maidens in the lyrics. As part of the ceremony, the women of Delos would spread the ashes of the sacrificial victims on the graves of Arge and Opis. There was also a Hyperborean named Olen who was cited as the first to prophesy and chant the hexameter oracles as the "mouthpiece" of Apollon.
When Apollon was ready to be born, another pair of Hyperborean maidens arrived on Delos with a tribute for Eileithyia, goddess of Childbirth … their names were Hyperoche and Laodike (Laodice). With the protection of five Hyperborean men, Hyperoche and Laodike traveled south through Skythia and then westward to the Oracle of Dodona before they made their way to Delos. The maidens brought offerings to Artemis "the Queen" wrapped in wheat straw. When Hyperoche and Laodike did not return to the land of the Hyperboreans, no more envoys were sent directly to Delos. The Hyperboreans would give their offerings to their southerly neighbors and ask that they be relayed to Delos. In honor of Hyperoche and Laodike, young Delian women would cut a lock of their hair before marriage, wind it on a spindle, and place it on the tomb of Hyperoche and Laodike which was located to the left of the entrance to the Temple of Artemis. Young Delian men would also cut a lock of their hair, wrap it around a green tree shoot and place it on the tomb of Hyperoche and Laodike.
The Apollon Epikourios was a temple in honor of Apollon built at Bassae on the Peloponnesian Peninsula during the second half of the fifth century BCE. The name Epikourios refers to Apollon as The Helper.
Apollon Lykeios is a name for Apollon referring to the Temple of Apollon in the Lykeum (Lyceum), i.e. a gymnasium, noted for its covered walkways, located in an eastern suburb of the city of Athens.
The Apollon Patroos is a representation of Apollon as the protector of his father, Zeus. The statue of Apollon Patroos at Athens is attributed to the master sculptor, Euphranor.
The Delia was a festival for Apollon held every four years on the island of Delos.
The Delphinia was an ancient Greek festival in honor of Apollon.
The Ebdomagetes was the name of Apollon used in Sparta when sacrifices were dedicated to him on the seventh of each month … ebdomas = the number seven.
Ekaergos is a name for Apollon literally meaning Far-Working … sometimes translated as Far-Shooting or Far-Darting.
It was believed in some circles that the poet Homer was the son of Apollon and the Muse, Kalliopie (Calliopie).
Iepaieon is a name for Apollon and also the name for hymns sung in his honor. The word is taken from the combination of the terms Ie Paion meaning roughly, Oh Healer.
The Karneia was a nine day festival held at Sparta in honor of Apollon during the month Metageitnion which would be the modern equivalent of the last half of August and the first half of September.
Kynthios (Cynthios) is a name for Apollon meaning, "born on Kynthus" because he was born on Mount Kynthus (Cynthus) on the sacred island of Delos.
Loxias is a name for Apollon meaning either Ambiguous or Speaker depending on the root word from which you assume the name was derived … loxos or logos respectively.
Lykeios (Lyceios) is an epithet of Apollon as the Giver of Light.
Lykoktonos (Lycoctonos) is an epithet of Apollon as the Wolf-Slayer.
Musagetes is a name for Apollon as the Leader of the Muses.
Phoibos (Phoebus) is an epithet for Apollon meaning Pure or Bright. Phoibos can be placed before Apollon as an adjective or simply used alone to signify the god.
The Pyanepsia was an Athenian festival in honor of Apollon and was held on the seventh day of the month of Pyanepsion (approximately the third week of September to the third week of October of our calendar). Young boys would go from door to door offering blessings in exchange for gifts of food.
Smintheus is an epithet for Apollon with two possible meanings:
1) Smintheus is a word of Cretan origin meaning Mouse God. The modern translator Robert Fagles states that "perhaps" it implies that Apollon is associated with the mouse because he is the god who bears the plague; or
2) Smintheus refers to a town on the Troad which was the site of a Temple of Apollon Smintheus. The Troad was the region in northwestern Asia Minor surrounding ancient Troy (near modern Troia, Turkey.
The Thargelia was a festival in honor of Apollon and Artemis celebrated at Athens and the Ionian colonies. The festival took place during the second week of the month of Thargelion, which would be approximately early May by our calendar. Some insist that the Thargelia was a birthday celebration for Apollon because he was born on the seventh day of Thargelion.
The Thargelia was an odd combination of the celebration of life and death … there was a procession where the first-fruits of the harvest were presented to Apollon and Artemis but there was also an rite where two condemned people were executed. As time went by, the executions became more ritualistic and symbolic, and then finally replaced with a ritual where a man and a woman were chosen to represent Apollon and Artemis and referred to as scapegoats … they were then driven from the city by the citizens.
The Theophania was a festival held Delphi at which the images of Apollon and other Immortals were put on public display.
Thronos was the name of the seat of the Oracle of Apollon at Delphi.
A name of Apollon used to denote his generative powers.