Myths about Apollo
Apollo was one of the
Twelve Olympians, the 12 most important
gods in Greek mythology. Because of this, there are many myths about him:
The Birth of Apollo
Apollo and his twin sister Artemis were the children of
Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, and the goddess
Leto. When Leto became pregnant, Zeus already had a wife, the queen of the gods
Hera. Hera was angry that Zeus was having children with Leto, and cursed Leto so that she could not ever give birth anywhere on the earth where the sun shone.
Hera then sent a
Python to eat her. Python chased Leto to the edge of the sea, where Leto swam to the island of Delos. Python could not swim, however, and had to leave her alone. The island of Delos was at that time a big rock floating on the sea, not really an island yet, so it wasn't "on the earth". Under the shade of a
palm tree, Leto gave birth to her daughter Artemis, and then her son Apollo.
Apollo and Delphi
When Apollo grew up, he went to his father Zeus and asked for a golden bow with arrows as bright and sharp as the sunshine. Then he went looking for a place to build his temple. He came to a spring that belonged to a
nymph called Telephusa and tried to build his temple there, but Telephusa suggested he build his temple at Delphi instead, since there was already a shrine there to Themis, the goddess of telling the future. Apollo went to Delphi, but found out it was taken over by Python, the dragon who had tried to eat his mother. He killed the Python with a hundred arrows and claimed Delphi as his own temple. He got two sailors to be his priests and then gave a girl the power of telling the future. The girl became his priestess, or
oracle. The little god
Eros, the son of the love-goddess Aphrodite, had watched Apollo kill Python and worshiped Apollo as his idol. Apollo, however, was annoyed by Eros and insulted him. Eros got angry and shot Apollo with his magic arrow, making him fall in love with a
nymph named Daphne. Daphne didn't love Apollo and shunned him. Apollo chased her and she turned herself into a
laurel tree to escape him. Apollo still loved her and made the laurel one of his symbols.
Apollo looked after the cattle of the sun-god Helios while Helios was driving the sun through the sky. While Apollo was chasing Daphne, the mischievous baby god
Hermes stole the cattle and confused Apollo by making the cattle walk backwards as they left their pen. When Apollo went looking for them, it looked like they had walked into the ranch instead of out. Hermes also told a nearby man that he would make him rich if he told no one about what he saw Hermes do. The man, Battos, told Apollo anyway, and was later turned into a stone by Hermes as punishment. Apollo took Hermes in front of all the gods to be judged. Hermes acted innocent, though, and finally convinced Apollo to forgive him by giving him the
lyre. Apollo loved this lyre so much that he not only let
Hermes keep the cattle, but also gave him the caduceus, a magic wand that could heal wounds and cause sleep. Hermes tried the caduceus out on two dying snakes, who came back to life and curled around the wand for the rest of eternity. Apollo, meanwhile, used his lyre to become the god of music and became the leader of the
Mousai, the nine goddesses of the arts.