Apollon   ah PAHL lon

The immortal son of Zeus and Leto

The name usually appears in the Greek texts as Apollon, or Phoibos Apollon, Phoibos meaning ‘shining’ or ‘bright’. Leto traveled far and wide to find the suitable birthplace for Apollon. She finally came to the rocky island of Delos and knew that this would be the birthplace of her glorious son. The goddess, Delos, made Leto swear a great oath on the river Styx that her new son, Phoibos, would not abandon his birthplace and that he would always keep his temple on the humble island. Leto agreed, Apollon was soon to be born on Delos.

After nine days and nights of travail, Phoibos was born with Rhea, Dione, Themis, Ikhnaian and Aphrodite (goddess of Love) attending. He did not nurse at his mothers breast, instead, he was given nectar and ambrosia. He burst from the crib and announced his intentions: to play the lyre and carry the curved bow. Known as the twin of Artemis and also referred to as the Striker from Afar (Hymn to Apollon).  The seventh day of each month is holy to Apollon. (The Works and Days, line 770+)

Apollon in The Iliad

Leto was insulted by a woman, Niobe, who had once been her friend. Niobe likened herself to Leto and bragged that she had twelve children, and Leto only had two. To avenge the insult against their mother, Apollon killed Niobe’s six sons and Artemis killed her six daughters (Iliad, book 24, line 607).

Apollon was clearly on the side of the Trojans. From the outset, Apollon was angry with the Akhaians (Achaians) for insulting his priest, Khryses (Chryses). He strode the waters off-shore and, for three days, showered the Akhaians with deadly arrows. His fury subsided after the Akhaians had made the proper sacrifices and returned the captive woman, Khryseis, to her grieving father.

As the war progressed, Apollon entered the battle on several occasions to protect and give glory to Hektor (Hector), usually at Zeus’ bidding. At one point (Iliad, book 7, line 58) Apollon and Athene (Athena) took the form of vultures and, from the vantage of an oak tree, watched the bloody, yet glorious, battle. After Hektor was wounded by Aias (Ajax), Apollon revived him and, with the Aegis of Zeus, drove the Akhaians back to their ships. Even though Apollon pitied and loved Hektor he could not save him from the Erinyes (the Fates). When Zeus turned his back on the hero, Apollon also turned away and left poor Hektor to the mercy of Athene... of course, she had none.

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Apollon in The Odyssey

The death of Phrontis...

After the fall of Troy, Apollon continued his assaults on the Akhaians as they traveled back to their homes. When the ships of Menelaos and Odysseus reached the Cape of Athens (holy Sounion), Apollon killed Phrontis, the renowned steersman. The victorious army was forced by custom to halt their journey and give their worthy companion the last rites suitable for a warrior of his caliber. This delay was the first step in allowing the murderer of Agamemnon to go unpunished for seven long years. It’s implied (Odyssey, book 3, line 273) that the sacrifice of many thigh bones allowed Aigisthos and Klytaimestra (Clytaimestra), the cowardly murderer and Agamemnon’s despicable wife, to get away with their heinous crime. The ‘good’ news is that Menelaos’ delayed homecoming allowed Orestes (Agamemnon’s son) to bring pitiless justice down on the head of Aigisthos.

The death of Rhexenor...

In one instance, Apollon is cast in the role of anti-Eros. A race of mortals was being shaped and prodded by the Immortals. The leader of this race was descended from Poseidon and Giants, his name was Nausithoos, lord of the Phaiakians. Nausithoos had two male children, Alkinoos and Rhexenor. Rhexenor was married and Alkinoos was not. Apollon killed Rhexenor (with a shower of painless arrows) and Alkinoos married his widow. This was all very fortunate for Odysseus when he was washed ashore in the land of the Phaiakians. Alkinoos and his beloved wife, Arete were fair and sympathetic to poor Odysseus. He knelt before them in cloths he had been given begging for a fast ship to his homeland. The deadly arrows of Apollon brought love and peace to the Phaiakians and their king and queen. (Odyssey, book 7, line 64)

The death of Eurytos the archer...

When Odysseus was asked to join the competitive sports with the Phaiakian men, 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 or Eurytos. Odysseus goes on to say that Eurytos did not live to enjoy his property and his fame because he challenged Apollon in archery. Apollon killed him for the insult. (Odyssey, book 8, line 227)

Apollon and Hermes...

When Hermes and Apollon saw how Hephaistos (Hephaestus) had trapped his wife Aphrodite and Ares (the god of War) in the act of love and displayed them for all the immortals to see, 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. (Odyssey, book 8, line 323)

The deaths of Otos and Ephialtes...

Apollon was asked to intervene when the two monstrous sons of Poseidon and Iphimedeia threatened to attack the Immortals on Mount Olympos. These boisterous youths, Otos and Ephialtes, were the tallest men ever to walk the earth. They were almost as handsome as Orion but they were too loud and too proud for the Immortals to tolerate. They threatened to uproot mountains and pile them up against Olympos and then 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. (Odyssey, book 11, line 319)

Apollon as favorable sign...

Telemachos (son of Odysseus) was speaking and a falcon flew by with a pigeon in it’s claws, feathers rained down as the falcon tore its prey to pieces. A companion, Theoklymenos, was sure that it was a favorable sign from Apollon. (Odyssey, book 15, line 526)

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Apollon in The Iliad (listed by book and line)

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Apollon in The Odyssey (listed by book and line)

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