Apollo was the son of Zeus and his lover Leto. Leto was a titan goddess. Apollo had many lovers but didn’t marry unlike many of the other gods. In truth he had so many lovers and consequently so many children that he could almost rival Zeus or Poseidon in terms of a family tree. One of his most famous sons was Asclepius the god of medicine who was killed by Zeus and Orpheus who was famed for his music.
Apollo was the god of prophecy, music, art, archery, poetry and the plague. He is often seen with a bow and arrow in hand, and he he would often go hunting with his sister Artemis. In some of the myths he is said to be the sun god, in others he is not. In the Trojan war he fought on the side of the Trojans and caused disease in the Greek ranks.
He had a mixed personality much like the other Greek gods. He could be jealous, angry and passionate depending on the circumstance.
- Jealousy – The god Apollo could get jealous at many things, often if someone insulted him or one of his family members. He often got jealous when his sister Artemis received attention from other men. The most famous example of this is the story of Orion below, but there are many instances of him behaving badly and unruly in similar circumstances.
- Anger – Hermes and Apollo had a strange relationship. Hermes would often play practical jokes on Apollo. When Hermes was first born he stole the sheep of Apollo and had them sacrificed to the gods. Apollo was enraged by this. To calm Apollo down, Hermes took the entrails of the sheep and made them into string for a lyre and then gave the lyre as a gift to Apollo. When Apollo played a song with the lyre the music was so beautiful he forgave Hermes.
- Passionate – Apollo was passionate about many things. He had many lovers, both gods and mortals and he would spend much of his time pursuing one women or another. Interestingly, his biggest passion was for music. He is often depicted as carrying a lyre and he would produce beautiful music with the help of his choir of muses who would follow him around.
Apollo Facts – Everything You’d Possibly Want to Know
- The Roman name for Apollo was actually also Apollo. Of the 12 Greek gods that made up the Olympians, Apollo is the only one to not undergo a name change when he was adopted by the Romans.
- Apollo had a number of consorts and lovers but unlike a lot of the other gods he did not marry anyone.
- He had a large number of children but these children didn’t play as significant a part in the Greek myths as the children of many of the other Greek gods.
- In the Trojan war Apollo took the side of the Trojans. This was because a Greek soldier had abducted a daughter of one of the important priests of Apollo. Apollo had a significant impact during the Trojan war when he caused plague in the Greek ranks.
- One of the most important symbols associated with Apollo is the lyre. However, Apollo did not invent the instrument. In fact it was invented by Hermes and given as a gift to Apollo.
- One of his famous sons was Orpheus who would fight as one of the Argonauts. In one of the myths Orpheus saved the Argonauts from the Sirens by drowning out their singing with his music. In another, he ventures down to the underworld.
- Apollo is very often associated with light or the sun, but he wasn’t in fact the god of the sun. The god of the sun was the Titan god Helios, who would drag the sun across the sky each day behind his chariot.
- One of the great foes of Apollo was the serpent Python. The snake was attacking and harassing his mother Leto. This great monster was killed by Apollo on the site of the city of Delphi. As Apollo was the god of prophecy he decided to build and oracle on the site of his victory.
- He had a twin sister called Artemis. She was the goddess of the hunt and together Apollo and Artemis would often spend time hunting in the forests. Apollo was incredibly protective of Artemis and would become jealous when she was courted by other gods or mortals.
- When Paris of Troy fired an arrow at the great hero Achilles during the Trojan war, it was Apollo who guided the arrow towards Achilles only vulnerability, his heel. Achilles died from his wounds and thus a prophecy was completed.
- The Queen Niobe stupidly mocked the mother of Apollo for only having two children. Apollo and his sister Artemis decided to take revenge by causing the deaths of all of Niobe’s children. Apollo and Artemis were not usually so cruel.