Have you always wondered if light could have a physical form, how it would look?
If you want to prevent going down the rabbit hole of clicking endless sites for getting up-to-date about your new fascination, then this article is for you.
The entire ancient Greek mythology is a battlefield against time and memory. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to keep track of who’s who. Hence, read along as we elaborate and introduce you to the god who brings daylight.
Who Is The Greek God Of Light?
Ancient Greece had a bountiful treasure of gods, goddesses, and demigods. From finding meaning in darkness to worshipping light, Greeks had it all.
Hence, Apollo was born. He was the most Hellenic of all gods, an Olympian deity, and the most widely known god of light. He was also an oracular god as a patron of Delphi who could predict prophecies using the Delphic Oracle Pythia. What’s more, he was known as the patron defender for herds and flocks.
Apollo, gifted with a beardless, athletic, and youthful built, was a simple yet complex god. Think about it, he was the god of archery, truth, healing, music and dance, prophecy, poetry, diseases, and knowledge. Isn’t that fascinating?
How Was Apollo Born?
When we search for origins, Apollo, god of sun and light, was born on the floating island of Delos along with his sister Artemis, goddess of the hunt.
Though, is an ancient Greek family tree complete without complications? The simple answer is no.
When Hera, Zeus’ wife, knew he had impregnated Leto, Apollo’s mother and Titan goddess of nights, she cast a curse on the expecting mother out of rage. She couldn’t have children on earth.
Hence, after a search far and wide, Apollo was born on the secret island of Delos under a palm tree beating the curse.
And he did not fall short in making his parents proud. An instance proving his radiating beauty and grace would be the drinking party held on Olympus. Serving his role as the advocate god of music and poetry, this Greek god of light was the leader of muses, known as Apollon Musegetes. He was also the director of the choir.
He used his cithara to accompany the muses (nine goddesses) who inspired art and music while the young goddesses graced the dance floor.
Various Epithets Of Apollo
Similar to his various powers and responsibilities, Apollo also had a wide range of epithets, more simply known as other names:
- He was associated with the word ‘Phoebus,’ which translated into ‘bright’ and a few times ‘pure.’ As a result, he became the god of truth, which made his prophecies more believable and inspired the confidence of people.
- His Greek epithet was Alexikakos, which meant averter of evil. Hence, he was known as the god of crops and herds.
- Another epithet belonging to Apollo was Nomios which meant herdsman because he is said to have served king Admetus by tending to his cattle. It was because he fell out of favor with Zeus for a while.
Attributes And Roles Of Apollo
With an ability to captivate any spectator even miles away, he moved the sun with his chariot and golden horses, and Apollo was all gold and shimmers. With golden hair waving to the tunes of wind, and a muscular physique, he was the incarnation of grace itself.
While he shined in his role to lead the sun in Greek mythology, Romans knew him better as the god of prophecy and healing.
But, if you think Apollo was not terrifying, you are wrong.
This Greek god of healing may have taught men the art of medicine, but he was well capable of harboring plagues and ill-health in times of need.
Ironically, he could also cleanse the ones stained in the blood of their relatives. It was because Apollo was a purifier!
Symbols Of Greek God Of Light And Their Meanings
Here are some common symbols related to Apollo:
1. The Bow And Arrow
The silver bow of Apollo represents the execution of Python. Python was a serpent that lived near Delphi. Hera had sent it consumed in rage after knowing about Zeus’ infidelity with Leto.
Hence, when Apollo became a grown man, he shot arrows from his bow, killed the Python, and took over the shrine of Delphi. The chief blacksmith and god of fire, Hephaestus, made this legendary bow and arrow.
Additionally, they also symbolize Apollo shooting plague arrows against his enemies during the Trojan War.
2. The Wreath
It was a symbol of victory and honor. Apollo’s wreath was an amalgamation of sun rays and Laurel of Daphne.
Above all, in ancient Greece, it was and is still used in Olympic Games.
3. The Lyre
The Greek god of light received a golden lyre created by Hermes, and it signifies his position as the god of music.
Apollo loved herding sheep as a child, but his younger brother Hermes stole all his cattle to trick him. On finding out, Apollo was displeased, and as a make-up gift, Hermes created the lyre for Apollo.
It resembled a small harp. Not only did it become a cherished instrument of Apollo, but it also had the power to turn anything, even stones, into musical instruments.
4. The Raven
Apollo was known for his cruelty and had a symbol for his anger.
An early witness of his anger was the raven, once considered white. But it got its wings scorched black upon delivering a piece of bad news to Apollo. The discovery was about his lover Coronis, mother to Asclepius, who fell in love with Ischys and slept with him.
Enraged that the bird had not pecked out Ischys’ eyes, Apollo torched its wings. Hence, the raven became black from white.
5. The Rays Of Light Radiating From His Head
Every new day begins as Apollo rides his golden chariot pulled by his four horses across the sky.
The rays of light radiating from his head symbolize he is the god of the sun, the bearer of daylight. Moreover, daylight was brought to the world every day by riding his golden chariot.
While his twin Artemis, the goddess of the moon, illuminates the night sky by riding her chariot during the evening.
7. The Branch Of Laurel
Apollo wore the branch of the laurel tree to symbolize his love for the nymph Daphne. He was hit by Eros’ love arrow and ended up falling in love at first sight. Although, this love changed to an unhealthy interest fast.
But, most importantly, Daphne was cursed to have a hatred for love and lust. Hence she remained uninterested in Apollo’s advances.
Alas, wanting to escape the constant chase, she wished to disappear and transformed into a laurel tree. She became free of Apollo, but he was left behind.
Hence, Apollo made the laurel tree sacred to him. Later, it was a status symbol in Greece.
Legends About Apollo
In ancient Greek mythology, Apollo was one of the 12 principal Greek mythology gods. Still, his life was a battlefield of love affairs and dramatic stories. Some interesting facts about legends revolving around Apollo are:
- Apollo never married, and while there are countless tales about his romantic encounters, none of them meet a happy ending. One such fable is about The Trojan Princess, Cassandra. She was a pious woman, and despite Apollo’s countless advances, she kept to her craft. Enraged, this Greek god of light punished her in a way she was able to see the future, but no one believed her prophecies.
- Apollo was father to many sons, to name a few: Asclepius, Troilus, Aristaeus, and Orpheus. But, he only had one daughter named Parthenos, who sadly fell to an early death. She was immortalized in the sky by gods as the constellation of Virgo.
- Another myth following Apollo’s trail is how he fell in love at first sight with the nymph Daphne. Tired from Apollo’s advances, she prayed to her mother Gaea, Titan of Earth, to grant her disappearance. Hence, Daphne transformed into a laurel tree, leaving behind heartbroken Apollo.
- He was also not a stranger to his father’s wrath. Apollo once connived with Poseidon, the god of sea, wishing to overthrow Zeus from his throne. But all went in vain, because Zeus made them do back-breaking work in the mortal land. Although, their efforts were fruitful as they gained the Walls of Troy that remained impenetrable until The Trojan War.
- The death of Marsyas also remained a legendary story in history. Marsyas was put to death because he lost a music contest to Apollo, which resulted from Apollo’s jealousy. Fact is, he was envious of Marsyas’ talent.
After his death, his followers shed tears that formed the River of Marsyas.
Achievements And Battles Of Apollo
Bestowed with several powers and known for his ability for cruelty, Apollo was a great fighter.
Some of his achievements are immortal at Delphi. He also protected the divine prophet against Hercules, who was enraged at being denied a prophecy by the priestess.
As a result, his truthfulness and integrity granted him the gift of prophecy and oracles. Hence, he also became the god of truth from the god of sun.
A battle tied to the name of this Greek god of light is The Trojan War. You may know it from Homer’s Iliad. From aiding Paris to kill Achilles by shooting a fatal arrow into Achilles heel to infecting the Greek encampment with a deadly plague, he did it all.
Apollo And Family Relations
His birth was not ideal, but he still had a soft spot for his mother and sister. Even the gods feared him, but his mother and father could easily endure his presence. He was known to mediate through his son, Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.
In addition, Apollo also stood by his family’s side. He slew the giant Tityos when he tried to rape Leto. He also has credit for killing Cyclops because he forged a thunderbolt against Zeus.
Also, he might have had many affairs, but he took great care of his children. One such incident proving his love is the killing of Adonis.
Accidently one of his children, Erymenthos, witnessed Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, in the company of Adonis. Blind with rage, Aphrodite took his sight. When the news traveled to Apollo, he killed Adonis by transforming himself into an Erymanthian boar and took revenge.
Ancient Greece had a plethora of deities, but celebrations never fell short. The archaic people worshipped the Greek god Apollo with zeal, enthusiasm, and love.
- In honor of Apollo being their patron god, the city Delphi held Pythian games every four years. It had sports events like wrestling, racing, and boxing.
- After Romans came into power, the god Apollo was also honored as the god of arts by introducing poetry, dancing, acting, and music competitions.
- Moreover, the island of Delphi also had an enormous temple dedicated to Apollo. Its ruins survive to date and tourists can visit them.
- However, the Spartans were not left behind as they held their festivals honoring Apollo. One such celebration was the Festival of Kernia.
- An old legend spoke of a Spartan man who killed another named Karnos who could see the future. It had angered Apollo. Hence, the Spartan people held this festival to appease their god.
- Another Spartan tradition honoring Apollo was the Festival of Hyakinthos. This event included special events where masters served their slaves a meal. Spartan women made clothing to adorn the statue of Apollo, and there was plenty of dancing, singing, and drinking.
Some Interesting Facts
No one worships Greek gods anymore. Although, the growing interest in Greek mythology has stood the test of time. Therefore, here are some quick facts to rev up your Greek mythology knowledge about the Greek god of light:
- Apollo grew into a strong full-grown man only in four days. He was fed a diet solely consisting of nectar and ambrosia.
- Emperor Augustus of ancient Rome had high reverence for Apollo because of the battle of Actium that occurred around the temple of Apollo. Hence, he dedicated an entire temple on top of Palatine Hill, the birthplace of Rome, to Apollo.
- Using the oracle of Delphi, Apollo was also the mediator between man and god.
- The spot where Apollo killed the Python became the starting place of the Panhellenic Pythian games. It was similar to the Olympic Games, except for the fact that the games were ritualistic.
- Apollo is one of the few gods who kept his Roman and Greek name similar.
- The city of Sparta, Delphi, and Delos worshipped Apollo as their patron.
- The Apollo space mission names are after a Greek god. The NASA director thought it would be good luck as it seemed like Apollo was flying across the sky.
- While the mythology was ancient, it was still always remembered. A living example is the character of Apollo in the famous book series ‘Percy Jackson.’ His character may be silly, but he’s a powerful ally.
Apollo And Dreams
Do you think the ancient Greek god has visited you in dreams?
If yes, then you might wonder what it means to have Apollo in your dream. Fret not, because it could mean anything from the following:
- As a representation of glory and light, you might see more clearly now, and it will be easier to find solutions.
- It can also mean enlightenment and insight since Apollo represents growth.
- You might have the arrival of someone new in your life because Apollo is one handsome god.
Don’t want to miss a dream where Apollo visited you? You can start your dream journal by following this dreamer’s guide.
Each day when the sun shines, Apollo is bringing new light to your life. Hence, Apollo will forever remain an unforgettable part of our lives.
We have an explanation for everything these days. But, ancient mythology is engraved in our minds in an unbreakable way; the teachings, the battles, the legends, and the myths too. Apollo was complete with his power and flaws, similar to the imperfect world existing today.
For now, the tale of Apollo, the god of the sun, is coming to a close. But we got more for you mythology seekers. Keep yourself occupied by reading about the Greek gods of sleep and dreams.
An enthusiastic dream journaler who has connected sleep-time visions with real-life occurrences in the past and present, Karandeep believes in tapping into the subconscious and demystifying strengths, insecurities, and deep-rooted desires. Besides identifying the interconnectedness of dreams in his personalized dream journal, he continues to study the significance of celestial objects and their relation to mythological tales that keep modern society intrigued about past civilizations.