Symbols: Lyre, bow and arrow, raven, laurel
Parents: Zeus and Leto
Children: Asclepius, Troilus, Orpheus
Abode: Mount Olympus
Roman name: Apollo
Apollo is the Greek god of music, poetry, light, prophecy, and medicine. He is one of the Twelve Olympian gods who live on Mount Olympus. Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, is his twin sister. He was the patron god of the city of Delphi.
How was Apollo usually pictured?
Apollo was pictured as a handsome athletic youth with curly hair. He usually had a laurel wreath about his head that he wore in honor of his love for Daphne. Sometimes he was shown holding a bow and arrow or a lyre. When traveling, Apollo rode a chariot pulled by swans.
What special powers and skills did he have?
Like all the Olympian gods, Apollo was an immortal and powerful god. He had many special powers including the ability to see into the future and power over light. He could also heal people or bring illness and disease. When in battle, Apollo was deadly with the bow and arrow.
Birth of Apollo
When the Titan goddess Leto became pregnant by Zeus, Zeus' wife Hera became very angry. Hera placed a curse on Leto that prevented her from having her babies (she was pregnant with twins) anywhere on the earth. Leto eventually found the secret floating island of Delos, where she had the twins Artemis and Apollo.
In order to keep Apollo safe from Hera, he was fed nectar and ambrosia after being born. This helped him to grow to a full-size god in one day. Apollo didn't mess around once he was grown. Only a few days later he fought a dragon named Python at Delphi. Hera had sent the dragon to hunt down and kill Leto and her children. Apollo slew the dragon with magical arrows he got from Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths.
The Oracle of Delphi
After defeating the Python, Apollo became the patron god of the city of Delphi. Since he was the god of prophecy, he established the Oracle of Delphi to tell the future to his followers. People in the Greek world would travel long distances to visit Delphi and hear their future from the oracle. The oracle also played a major role in many Greek plays and stories about the Greek gods and heroes.
The Trojan War
During the Trojan War, Apollo fought on the side of Troy. At one point, he sent diseased arrows into the Greek camp making many of the Greek soldiers sick and weak. Later, after the Greek hero Achilles defeated the Trojan Hector, Apollo guided the arrow that struck Achilles in the heel and killed him.
Daphne and the Laurel Tree
One day Apollo insulted Eros, the god of love. Eros decided to get his revenge by shooting Apollo with a golden arrow causing him to fall in love with the nymph Daphne. At the same time, Eros shot Daphne with a lead arrow to cause her to reject Apollo. As Apollo chased Daphne through the woods, she called out to her father to save her. Her father then changed her into a laurel tree. From that day forward, the laurel tree became sacred to Apollo.
Interesting Facts About the Greek God Apollo
- Apollo and Poseidon once attempted to overthrow Zeus. As punishment, they were forced to work for mortals for a time. It was during this time that they built the great walls of Troy.
- He was the leader of the Muses; goddesses which provided the inspiration for science, art, and literature.
- When Queen Niobe mocked his mother Leto for only having two children, Apollo and Artemis took their revenge by killing all fourteen of Niobe's children.
- The god Hermes created the lyre, a stringed musical instrument, for Apollo.
- Once Apollo and Pan had a music contest. When King Midas said he preferred Pan, Apollo turned his ears into those of a donkey.
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