Birth of Apollo
The worship of Apollo in Antiquity
Artistic representations of Apollo
In Greek Apollo, Latin Phébus, or Phœbus. God of Greek and Latin mythology. Apollo was, at the origin, a solar divinity coming from Asia; in the various qualifiers attest which are them his: Phoibos, “the Brilliance”, Xanthos, “the Fair one”, or Krusokomês, “the god with gold hair”. The etymology of the name Apollôn himself remains prone to many assumptions.
In Greek mythology, he is the son of Zeus and Léto (Jupiter and Latone in Rome), divinity going down from the Titans, and belongs to the second generation of the Olympic gods.
Twin brother of Artémis (Diane), it was most beautiful of the twelve large gods of the Olympus. Many temples were dedicated to this incarnation of Science, the Music and Poetry, and each Greek city celebrated some festival in its honor. In Rome and in Italy, the worship of Apollo was also very widespread.
The birth of Apollo was delayed by Héra, divinity of the hearth and wife of Zeus, which, by jealousy, prevented Léto from putting at the world the children that it carried while it, by threatening of reprisals any ground which would accommodate it. Only Ortygie, one of the more small islands of Cyclades, dry and moving, agreed to collect the wandering young woman, who could finally give the day to two twins: initially Artémis, then his/her brother Apollo. Recognizing, Apollon was to make the island stable and to make the center of the Greek world of it; he gave him the name of Délos, “the Brilliant one”.
The different ones and many legends describe Apollon like a divinity with the multiple and often contradictory functions. The oldest versions allot the responsibility for a series of murders to him; the ones are accomplished of its own hand; the others are made by an intermediary which he advises and guides.
Apollo and the snake Python
As of his birth, Apollon avenges his mother for the Python snake - sometimes also named Delphyné - which had continued it whereas, enclosure, it hopelessly sought a refuge to be confined. The god kills it out of his gold arrows, then skins it and, of its skin, it recovers the tripod of Pythonisse, or Pythea, of the sanctuary of Delphes, which consequently becomes it his - before, returned oracle with Delphes was that of the THEMIS god. The god must however expiate this murder, and it spends one year in the valley of Temple, in Thessalie. Another alternative says that it goes to the Hyperborean ones - area where the sun never lies down, which was thus supposed to be the residence of predilection of the god.
Apollo and Coronis
From its loves with Coronis is born Asclépios - Esculape of the Romans -, excel doctor, that his/her father cherished. However, Asclépios having, at the request of Artémis, returned the life with Hippolyte wrongfully condemned to die by Thésée, is in its turn killed by Zeus, which strikes down it. Not being able to be avenged for Zeus, Apollon assassinates the Cyclops, son of Zeus, which had forged its lightning. Apollo is then condemned to spend one year at Admète, king de Thessalie, for the account of which it fills the modest task of shepherd.
Apollo and Hyacinthos
Very beautiful divinity, worrying but poetic and civilized, Apollon govern the worships of the virile beauty and orphic initiation, from where the woman is excluded. He is thus in love with Hyacinthos (or Hyacinthe), son of the MUSE Clio. He is however not the only in love one with the young man, and one of its rivals is a wind, Zéphyre or Borated. One day that Apollo and Hyacinthos play launching the disc, the wind, jealous, makes deviate this one and wounds Hyacinthos mortally. The god, to honor his lover, transforms the blood which runs its wound in a flower, the Hyacinthe, which is perhaps the hyacinth, or perhaps the lily martagon.
A frightening god
Apollo plays of the quadrant, whose cords perhaps symbolize the rays of the sun. Defied by the Marsyas satyr, which had by chance found flute that had played then given up Athéna - to play of the flute returned it, with its inflated cheeks, if ridiculous that the other goddesses made fun of it -, Apollon gains the contest. According to what had been agreed, Apollon can thus have with his own way Marsyas; he it tormented soul and suspends it with a pine.
Apollo is, according to Iliade, that which guides the arrows of Pâris which will cause the death of Achilles (song XXII), and it is that which Oreste at the time beseeches to be avenged for Egisthe (Electra).
In love with the nymph Daphne, Apollon causes the death of his Leucippos rival, who had managed to be introduced among the nymphs while disguising itself as a woman; Apollo then advises with those to bathe naked; the imposture of Leucippos is discovered, and the young man is beaten with death. Daphne being refused with him, it was transformed into bay-tree at the time when the god was going to hug it.
Having tried with Poséidon, Héra and Athéna, to connect Zeus, and having failed, Apollon was condemned, like Poséidon, to work for the king of Troy, Laomédon. According to certain authors, the two gods would then have built the formidable walls of the city, while other accounts make of Apollo the guard of the herds of Laomédon. At all events, Poséidon and Apollon, when they had found their powers, devastated Troyens in their sending the plague.
Through these episodes, the frightening character of this god clearly appears, which is worth the nickname of Lukeios to him, “destructor of wolves”, with the image of the wild world of hunting, the war and striking down death - another etymology of Lukeios makes mean with this word “the Luminous one”, but at Eschyle (Seven against Thèbes) as at Sophocle (Electra), Apollon is the “god who destroys the wolves”. (One also speaks about “Apollo lycian” because he was the god of Lycie - area named according to Lycos, son of Pandion in the Greek mythology, whose name means “Wolf”.)
Homeric period with the O C front century J. - C., as the Greeks approach the apogee of traditional civilization, the characters of Apollo change, to make an extremely complex god of it. If there remains always the instrument of the divine punishment, he is already the god of soft death and the delivery, as the lamentations testify some to Hécube in front of the corpse of his/her son Hector (Iliade, song 26): “And here you is, today, wide in the house, the fresh dye, as if the life only had just given up you, similar with those which Apollon with the money arc came to strike of his soft arrows.”
Its splendor, its divinatory art and its rigor will be a source of richness for the thought Pythagorean, anxious to purify the human being of its wild instincts. Thus, Apollo the hyperborean one, pure being par excellence, reign on the islands of Happy, paradise of the orphism and the neopythagorism.
The gift of prophecy
Father of Asclépios, Apollon delivers the men of the diseases. The sailors call upon it like god of the winds and later sun, under the name of Apollon Phébus. Especially, Apollon communicates to the men the gift of prophecy. Its victory over Python, the mythical snake, survivor of the titanic past and guard of the oracle of the Earth, ensures a divinatory power to him which yields only to that of Zeus. It joined in addition Dionysos, by also getting to the men the inspiration poetic and artistic, is delirious it and the joy communicated by art and the music. Is delirious of the Pythea, priestess of the oracle of Apollo with Delphes, thus expresses themselves in often ambiguous worms - one says his oracles which they are “oblique”. It is inconceivable for the Greeks to make some decision of importance without consulting the oracle of Delphes; Apollo chairs thus the foundation of the new cities or the colonies, and with all the essential acts of the public life.
Apollo communicates his gift of prophecy in Cassandre, with which it is in love, but once received this gift, Cassandre refuses to yield to the god; not wanting to take again to him what it had given him, Apollon withdraws the gift of persuasion to him, and Cassandre is found condemned to emit prophecies to which nobody adds faith.
According to other myths, Apollon was the father of Mopsos, another soothsayer, who overcame celebrates it Calchas at the time of a contest.
The worship of Apollo in Antiquity
The principal center of the Apollinian worship was in Delphes, with the oracle of the Pythea. The temple of Apollo was there one of most beautiful and richest of the Mediterranean world. The animals which the Greeks preferably offered to him in sacrifice were the wolf, the hind, the dolphin, as of the birds whose soothsayers studied the flight: swan, corbel and vulture. The bay-tree was the plant devoted to the god, because of his mishap with Daphné, and thus it came from there to be used as crown to the poets; they was also sheets of bay-tree which the Pythea during its fright chewed.
The antiquated Roman religion did not have any god similar to the Apollo of the Greeks, and missed in particular god of Medicine. Also Apollon was it one of the rare Greek gods received in ancient Rome, as of the O C front century J. - C., with attributes not having their equivalent in the traditional local religion - his son Asclépios, him also healer, became Aesculapius (Esculape) and was accepted in Rome at the beginning of IIIe front century J. - C. the first temple of Apollo was built at the Champ de Mars and was dedicated in 431 av. J. - C. In 399, Apollon and his/her mother - Latone, in Rome - was honoured at the time of first lectisternium of the city - meal offered to the gods, who are represented slept, of lectus, “reads”, and sternere, “to extend on the ground”. Plays were devoted to god, ludi Apollinares, which became annual starting from 208 av. J. - C. In 28 av. J. - C., after its victory of Actium, which had occurred close to a sanctuary of the god, the Auguste emperor set up a temple with Apollon in his palate of the Palatine Hill.
Artistic representations of Apollo
The representation of Apollo varied with the wire of the centuries, at the same time as evolved the literary tradition referring to the god. When the artist wants to insist on his character of prophet, it represents the god worn a long dress, which was the dress of the priests; hunter, Apollon carries an arc and its foot is raised to suggest the attitude of the race (Apollo of the View-point); doctor, the god has the snake with his feet.
For the antiquated Greek period, Apollon was hardly different from the kouros type (Apollo of Piombino, towards 500 av. J. - C., Louvre, Paris). In Ve century appeared the type of the beautiful naked and serene young man (Western pediment of the temple of Zeus, towards 465, Olympie) whom illustrated perhaps also Phidias (Apollo parnopios). Praxitèle (IV E century) gave him a more effeminate character. The Apollo of the View-point (Pio-Clementino museum, the Vatican) is a Roman copy of a bronze allotted to Léocharès (fine of IVe century). Still let us quote the Apollo musagète (the Vatican), the Apollo citharède (Munich), the Sauroctone Apollo and the Apollo Lycien (both in Louvre), the Apollo with the swan (Naples). The Colossus of Rhodes was a gigantic representation of the god.
Thereafter, this topic inspired by other artists, among whom Van Loo (Apollo and Marsyas, Apollon and Daphne, in Louvre), Velásquez (Apollo at Vulcan, Madrid), Dosso Dossi, Raphaël, Bernin, Delacroix (victorious Apollo of the Python snake, ceiling of the gallery of Apollo, in Louvre). Igor Stravinsky is the author of a ballet entitled Apollon musagète (1928).
Lastly, let us mention for memory celebrates it theory of Nietzsche on the Greek tragedy, according to which this one would be the fruit of the Dionysiac inclinations, characterized by enthusiasm and the life, and not, as one hitherto taught it, of the Apollinian tendencies, synonymous according to him with a sterile beauty characterized by the order and measurement (Birth of the tragedy, 1872).