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 Apollo

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PostSubject: Apollo   Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:48 pm



In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo (in Greek, Ἀπόλλων—Apóllōn or Ἀπέλλων—Apellōn), is one of the most important and diverse of the Olympian deities. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun; truth and prophecy; archery; medicine, healing and plague; music, poetry, and the arts; and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. Apollo was worshiped in both ancient Greek and Roman religion, as well as in the modern Greco–Roman Neopaganism.

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing were associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague as well as one who had the ability to cure. Amongst the god's custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musagetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the third century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, goddess of the moon.[1] In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the first century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215).[2] Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the third century CE.



The etymology of Apollo is uncertain. Several instances of popular etymology are attested from ancient authors. Thus, Plato in Cratylus connects the name with ἀπόλυσις (apolysis), "redeem", with ἀπόλουσις (apolousis), "purification", and with ἁπλοῦν (aploun), "simple",[3] in particular in reference to the Thessalian form of the name, Ἄπλουν, and finally with Ἀει-βάλλων (aeiballon), "ever-shooting". Hesychius connects the name Apollo with the Doric απελλα (apella), which means "assembly", so that Apollo would be the god of political life, and he also gives the explanation σηκος (sekos), "fold", in which case Apollo would be the god of flocks and herds. It is also possible[4] that apellai derives from an old form of Apollo which can be equated with Appaliunas, an Anatolian god whose name possibly means "father lion" or "father light". The Greeks later associated Apollo's name with the Greek verb απολλυμι (apollymi) meaning "to destroy".[5]

In modern times it has been suggested[6] that Apollo comes from the Hurrian and Hittite divinity, Aplu, who was widely invoked during the "plague years". Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning "the son of Enlil", a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun.

There are generally two broad opinions on the origins of Apollo: one derives him from the East, the other connects him to the Dorians and their apellai (cf. also the month Apellaios).[7] In any case, Walter Burkert notes that components of various origins are discernible in his worship: a Dorian Greek, a Cretan-Minoan and a Syro-Hittite.[8] According to the first opinion, both Greek and Etruscan Apollo came to the Aegean during the Iron Age (i.e. from c.1100 BCE to c. 800 BCE) from Anatolia. Homer pictures him on the side of the Trojans, against the Achaeans, during the Trojan War and he has close affiliations with a Luwian deity, Apaliunas, who in turn seems to have traveled west from further east. The Late Bronze Age (from 1700–1200 BCE) Hittite and Hurrian Aplu,[9] like the Homeric Apollo, was a god of plagues, and resembles the mouse god Apollo Smintheus. Here we have an apotropaic situation, where a god originally bringing the plague was invoked to end it, merging over time through fusion with the Mycenaean healer-god Paeon (PA-JA-WO in Linear B); Paeon, in Homer's Iliad, was the Greek healer of the wounded gods Ares and Hades. In other writers, the word becomes a mere epithet of Apollo in his capacity as a god of healing, but it is now known from Linear B that Paeon was originally a separate deity.

Homer illustrated Paeon the god, as well as the song both of apotropaic thanksgiving or triumph,[10] and Hesiod also separated the two; in later poetry Paeon was invoked independently as a god of healing. It is equally difficult to separate Paeon or Paean in the sense of "healer" from Paean in the sense of "song."

Such songs were originally addressed to Apollo, and afterwards to other gods: to Dionysus, to Apollo Helios, to Apollo's son Asclepius the healer. About the fourth century BCE, the paean became merely a formula of adulation; its object was either to implore protection against disease and misfortune, or to offer thanks after such protection had been rendered. It was in this way that Apollo had become recognised as the god of music. Apollo's role as the slayer of the Python led to his association with battle and victory; hence it became the Roman custom for a paean to be sung by an army on the march and before entering into battle, when a fleet left the harbour, and also after a victory had been won.
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