The Ancient Library

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On this page: Apollo (continued)



to be the god, as they are the goddesses, of song and poetry, and is therefore Mus&getSs Leader o'f the Muses) as well as master of the choric dance, which goes with music and song. And, as the friend of all that beau­tifies life, he is intimately associated with the Graces.

Standing in these manifold relations to nature and man, Apollo at all times held a prominent position in the religion of the Greeks; and as early as Homer his name is coupled with those of Zeus and Athena, as if between them the three possessed the sum total of divine power. His worship was diffused equally over all the regions in which Greeks were settled; but from remote antiquity he had been the chief god of the Dorians, who were also the first to raise him into a type of moral excellence. The two chief centres of his worship were the Island of Delos, his birthplace, where, at his magnificent temple standing by the sea, were held every five years the festive games called Delia, to which the Greek states sent solemn embassies; and Delphi, with its oracle and numerous festivals (see pythia, theoxenia). Foremost among the seats of his worship in Asia waa Patara in Lycia with a famous oracle.

To the Romans Apollo became known in the reign of their last king Tarquinius Superbus, the first Roman who consulted the Delphian oracle, and who also ac­quired the Sibylline Books (q.v.). By the influence of these writings the worship of Apollo soon became so naturalized among them, that in B.C. 431 they built a temple to him as god of healing, from which the expiatory processions (sec sopplicationes) prescribed in the Sibylline books used to set out. In the Lectisternia (4.^.), first insti­tuted in b.c. 399, Apollo occupies the fore­most place. In 212 B.C., during the agony of the Second Punic War, the LUdi ApolK-n&res were, in obedience to an oracular response, established in honour of him. He was made one of the chief gods of Rome by Augustus, who believed himself to be under his peculiar protection, and ascribed the victory of Actium to his aid; hence he enlarged the old temple of Apollo on that promontory, and decorated it with a portion of the spoils. He also renewed the games held near it, previously every two years, afterwards every four, with gymnastic and artistic contests, and regattas on the sea; at Rome he reared a splendid new temple to him near his own house on the Palatine, and transferred

the Ludi Sfecul&rSs (q.v.) to him and Diana.

The manifold symbols of Apollo corre­spond with the multitude of his attributes. The commonest is either the lyre or the bow, according as he was conceived as the god of song or as the far-hitting archer. The Delphian diviner, Pythian Apollo, is indicated by the Tripod, which was also the favourite offering at his altars. Among plants the bay, used for purposes of expia­tion, was early sacred to him (see daphne). It was planted round his temples, and plaited into garlands of victory at the Pythian games. The palm-tree was also sacred to him, for it was under a palm-tree that he was born in Delos. Among animals, the wolf, the dolphin, the snow-white and musical swan, the hawk, raven, crow, and

snake were under his special protection ; the last four in connexion with phetic functions.

In ancient art he was represented as a long-haired but beardless youth, of tall yet muscular build, and handsome features. Images of him were as abundant as his worship was extensive : there was scarcely an artist of antiquity who did not try his

(1) THE BELVEDERE APOLLO. (Rome, Vatican Museum.)

hand upon some incident in the story of Apollo. The ideal type of this god seems to have been fixed chiefly by PraxitSles and The most famous statue preserved

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.