In Greek mythology, Apollo was a powerful and diverse God. He was lauded as the Giver of Music, Medicine, Light, Law, Prophesy and the Arts.
The Olympian gods were the main gods of Ancient Greece. After overthrowing their ancestors, the Titans, the Olympian gods became the rulers of the World (Cosmos), representing the civilization of the world. The Olympian gods majestically and democratically dwelled on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, built by the Cyclopes. The leader of the Olympian gods was Zeus. The Nine Muses were Greek goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects. They were the daughters of Zeus, lord of all gods, and Mnemosyne, who represented memory. Memory was important for the Muses because in ancient times, when there were no books, poets had to carry their work in their memories.
Apollo belongs to the second generation of the Olympian gods. Homer told in his stories that Apollo was one of the most feared and respected gods in Greek mythology. Apollo was known to apply religious law; he let mortals know about their sins, judged them and tried to purge off their sins. He was a strict god who kept his distance with both other gods and mortals. Only way to communicate with him was through oracles, prophets and his father, Zeus.
Apollo and Artemis were two twins born by the king of the gods Zeus and Leto, a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Apollo is the god of light, music, poetry, healing and divination (prophecy). Zeus, the father of gods and men, dazzled by the beauty of Leto, who was coming from the generation of the Titans, mated with her. The jealous Hera, resentful by the countless infidelities of her husband with mortals and goddesses and because she did not have the power to hurt her husband, opposed to Leto and set out to do everything in order not to let her give birth.
Apollo is said to direct the Muses, which puts music, history, dreams, dance, poetry, and art under his realm. Dance, poetry, rite, and music seem inseparably associated in the early history of music in ancient Greece. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey report vintners’ songs, dirges, and hymns of praise to Apollo (paeans). Music was described as an art exerting great power (ethos) over human beings, and certain musical styles came to be associated with particular peoples and deities. The Muses are said to be the invisible forces that we call on when we exercise our creative talents and imagination. Apollo has been called the true paradigm of a Greek God. He represented harmony, order and civilization, a bright and rational God. Associated with the cultivated arts of Music and Healing, he was a patron of intellectual pursuits and human development.
Apollo had a great temple built for him at Delphi which bore two Greek maxims, “Know Thyself” and “Nothing In Excess”. Hermes invented the lyre, a harp like instrument with nine cords, in honor of the nine Muses. Hermes gave this first lyre to Apollo. In return, Apollo gave Hermes the caduceus, still used today as the symbol of Medicine.
Apollo was a gifted musician, who delighted the Gods with his lyre performances. He was also a master archer and a fleet-footed athlete, credited with being the first victor in the Olympic Games. He is said to have taught humans the art of healing.Ancient sculptors showed Apollo as a beautiful youth with flowing hair tied in a knot above his forehead, wearing a laurel wreath, holding his lyre or bow. His most famous statue is the ‘Apollo Belvedere’, a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original, now kept in the Vatican Museum, in Rome, Italy.