by H. Crosthwaite
IT is time to consider Apollo in greater detail. There is a vase painting showing Apollo and Dionysus together at Delphi. A fragment of Aeschylus speaks of "Apollo, ivy-crowned, Bacchic, mantle." Plutarch, in The E at Delphi, gives him three names; Apollo, not many but one; Ieius, One; and Phoebus, Pure.
He came from the east. There are Hittite altars to Apulunas, discovered by Hrozny at Enni Gazi and Eski Kisla. Pule is Greek for a gate. His title Paian links him with a Cretan god of healing. The epithet Lykaios has been thought to mean: The god from Lycia (in Asia Minor); wolf-slaying, from lukos, a wolf; and the god of day, from luke, light. These different interpretations are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
The name Loxias may refer to the ambiguity of his nature: god of plague and of healing, of light and death, of uncertain answers. The Greek loxias means oblique, and is the term used for the ecliptic.
He is the leader of the Muses. Scholars have often contrasted the intellectual nature of his inspiration with the emotional violence of Dionysus, but Cassandra and other victims of the Far-darter might have reservations about this.
Oulos is an epic word meaning destructive, baneful, fatal. Apo means from, from a distance. The name Apollo would suit him well if it implied 'death from afar'. He is often described as Hekebolos, the far darter, as is his sister Artemis. But Hermes, who is very like Apollo, is Puledokos, guardian of the gate, and it is still an open question. Apollo's weapons were the bow and arrow, but he, with his sister, and Demeter, are all called chrusaoros, with golden sword.
The Trojan hero Hector is like an oulios aster, a baneful star, in Iliad XI: 62.
In the form of a dolphin Apollo boarded a ship from Crete and made the crew sail to Krisa, the port for Delphi. He revealed himself as Apollo, and went to Pytho. This early name for Delphi may come from a root puth, well, which suggests the chasm between the two Phaedriades.
The name Parnassus appears to mean 'mountain of the house' in Luvian, a language of Asia Minor. This, and the presence in Greek of such words as Korinthos, asaminthos, labyrinthos, Hymettos, Mykalessos, is generally held to mean that the pre-Achaean people of Greece were of Asian origin, and were hosts to an immigration of Achaeans in the 2nd millennium B. C.. Tartessus was a Phoenician city near Cadiz, ruled by King Arganthonius (Cicero: De Senectute XIX).
The worship of Apollo at Delphi was not established until relations with Corinth were established about 800 B. C.. The orientalising tendency of Corinthian art is well known. The name Delphi itself suggests the Greek delphis, a dolphin. Delphyne was the name of the serpent that Apollo killed on arrival at Delphi. Note also delphys, matrix. Early in his career Apollo was a giant killer like Herakles and Hermes. He defended Olympus against the giants who piled Pelion on Ossa in their attack on Mount Olympus and the gods. He killed the giant Tityos. When Coronis, whom he had loved, decided to marry Ischys (strength), Apollo sent his sister Artemis to destroy her. He then snatched her son, the infant Asclepius, from the mother's corpse on the funeral pyre, and gave him to the centaur Cheiron to be educated in medicine. One is reminded of Zeus snatching Dionysus from Semele. Later, as a punishment for killing the Cyclopes, Apollo was servant to a mortal, King Admetus, as was Herakles to Eurystheus and Omphale. As the deity at Delphi, he shines rather than speaks. Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus 80, describes him as lampros, shining. His sister Artemis, called Loxo, is referred to by Homer as eustephanos, with beautiful crown  , and in line 207 of the Oedipus Tyrannus: "the firebearing rays of Artemis with which she rushes across the mountains of Lycia." In line 186: "paian de lampei", the shout rings out (literally 'shines' or 'flashes').
Cassandra, captive at Mycenae, begins to prophesy: "O Apollo of the roads, my destroyer, apollon  , whither have you brought me?" There was an occasion when the oracle at Delphi refused to answer Herakles. Herakles seized the tripod to smash votive offerings. Apollo fought back until Zeus intervened. He had long flowing hair.
There is a history of disaster overtaking mortals who saw a god or goddess. The goddess Hera says: "The gods are hard to look upon in their full brightness."  . The soldiers of Alexander the Great were blinded when they invaded the temple of Demeter at Miletus. Anchises was blinded by a thunderbolt for boasting of his union with Aphrodite.
When Hannibal wished to carry off a golden column from Juno's temple at Lacinium, he tested it with a drill and did find it solid gold, but then had a dream in which he was warned that if he removed the column he would lose the sight of his good eye. He had an image of a calf made out of the gold dust, and set it on the column  .
A mediaeval Arab story tells that a certain pyramid that was built, according to Manetho, by Nitocris, is haunted by a beautiful woman who drives men mad.
There are several instances of people being driven mad as punishment for similar offences. At Patrae, a statue of Dionysus drove mad all those who saw it. A list of examples is given in an article by R. G. A. Buxton in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1980. We have seen that Apollo's sister Artemis was called by Homer Eustephanos, she of the beautiful crown. The crown, stephanos, is associated with her brother, too.
Every eight years at Delphi there was celebrated the festival of the Stepteria. A wooden structure was set on fire by youths who ran away, without looking back, to Tempe. The burning is said to represent Apollo's defeat of the serpent Puthon, and the journey to Tempe his eight years of servitude to Admetus. The situation is not unlike that at Thebes, where Kadmos killed the serpent that guarded the spring of Ares, and had to go and serve Ares for eight years.
Every eight years at Thebes the festival of the Daphnephoria was held. The Greek daphne is laurel. A procession brought a piece of olive wood, decorated with bay and flowers, 365 purple ribands, and a bronze globe from which smaller globes hung, to the precincts of Apollo Ismenios and Chalazios. The lower end of the stick was wrapped in saffron coloured cloth. A boy whose parents were still alive led the procession. Next came his brother or cousin, with the olive wood, then the daphnephoros (laurel bearer), a handsome boy, with flowing hair, in a splendid long robe, golden crown and wreath of bay, and elegant shoes. Last came a chorus of girls with branches. There is clearly some astronomical significance in the ceremony --a purple ribbon for each day of the year --and the word chalaza, hail, can also mean stones or meteorites, like the Hebrew baradh.
Let us look again at the Delphic succession. Gaia, Themis and Phoebe represent a powerful deity, associated with the earth and female. Dionysus, in his later form as the god with a pale face, long curly hair and epicene appearance guaranteed to enrage such a pillar of the Theban establishment as Pentheus, is a half-way house between Gaia and Apollo. Apollo is the male deity who operates as much above ground as from below ground. It is interesting that inhumation of the dead was usual in earlier times. Contact is thereby made with the earth-mother, Gaia. Cremation is practiced later, as if to link the dead with a sky god or the aither. The effects of electricity on the human body were of great interest to the Greeks and Romans. There is a fine example in Vergil. During the hunt organised by Dido for her guest at Carthage, Aeneas and the queen take refuge in a cave during a thunderstorm. Earth (Tellus), and Juno Pronuba, i. e. Juno as attendant of the bride and patron goddess of marriage, give a sign; lightning flashes, the sky (aither) joins in as an accomplice  .
The ithyphallic statues of Hermes found in all Greek cities are outstanding examples of electrical stimulation. One of the titles of Hermes is Stilbon, a name of the planet Mercury. The Greek stilbo means 'flash'. Stilbein astrapas is to flash lightning  . Among the Sybarites, stilbon meant a dwarf.
Hermes was the son of Zeus and of Maia, one of the Pleiades. He was born in the early morning, by noon he had invented the lyre and played on it, and by the evening he had stolen the cows of Apollo. He was the most cunning and deceitful of the gods, and gave early proof of this when he dragged the cows backwards by their tails so that their theft should not be discovered. His staff, the kerakeion or caduceus, enabled him to conduct souls to the underworld, and he has the title of psychopompos, escorter of souls.
Aphrodite is described as 'eustephanos', of the beautiful crown, implying a link with electrical fire. The word was taken to refer either to a girdle (zone) or to a crown.
Eros, or sexual passion, is connected with light. He appears in Hesiod as the most beautiful among the immortal gods as well as being the first to come into existence  . In the Orphic stories he is Phanes, he who brings everything into light, and as Eros he is responsible for the marriage of earth and heaven.
The Greek word kledon means an omen or presage when one made an involuntary movement or exclamation. Such a chance act was thought to be caused by a god. Sneezing was significant. Epileptic convulsions were certainly of divine origin, and are now attributed to electrical malfunctions of the brain. Shivering was a sign, and is to be connected with the stories in Diodorus and Plutarch of the goats made to shiver before slaughter as an essential preliminary to the Pythia's descent to the shrine to prophesy.
Readers of Pindar, the 5th century B. C. lyric poet of Thebes, will be familiar with passages where he uses images of fire and light for poetry, e. g. "setting the city on fire with my songs (aoidais)."  .
Passages concerning hair, light, Apollo and kledons; from Homer, Vergil and Pausanias.
From the Iliad: XIII: 435: Poseidon casts a spell on the shining eyes of Alcathous and binds his gleaming limbs so that he cannot run away or dodge sideways.
XV: 256: Apollo encourages Hector. Apollo Chrysaoros, Apollo of the golden sword.
XV: 262: So saying, he breathed great power (menos) into the Trojan leader.
XXIII: 141: Achilles cuts off a lock of his hair to lay on the body of Patroclus.
XXIII: 281: Achilles announces the chariot race at the funeral games of Patroclus. He will not compete with his own horses: Patroclus often washed them with clear water and poured oil on their manes.
From the Odyssey: I: 90: Achaeans with flowing hair, kare komoontas. I: 153: The herald put a beautiful kitharis in the hands of the minstrel Phemius. He played a prelude (phormizon) and began his song.
The kithara, in Homer kitharis, was triangular in shape with seven strings. It was portable, and was Apollo's instrument. It is virtually the same as the phorminx. The lura was a larger instrument, with four strings; later with seven. Homer does not mention it, but the word occurs in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, line 423.
IV: 122: Helen emerges from her room looking like Artemis of the golden distaff (chryselakate).
VIII: 323: Lord Apollo Hekaergos (working far off). XVII: 541: Penelope says that if only Odysseus were to return, he and his son would soon avenge the crimes of the suitors. Telemachus gives a loud sneeze which echoes in a frightening way round the house.
From the Aeneid: I: 740: At a banquet with Dido, long-haired (crinitus) Iopas plays on his golden kithara; he had been taught by great Atlas.
III: 80: When the Trojans land on Delos, they meet Anius, king of Delos and priest of Apollo, who wears fillets of sacred laurel round his head.
III: 170 ff.: The Trojans suffer ecological disasters in Crete. The Trojan gods appear in a dream and reveal that Corythus in Italy is their goal. Corythus was later Cortona, a town in Etruria. The name resembles cortina, the cauldron or tripod. Korus, koruthos is the Greek for a helmet. The gods who appeared in the dream had garlanded hair, velatas comas.
III: 257: When they land in the Strophades, the Harpy Celaeno prophesies that they will know they are at their destination when they eat their tables. VI: 779: "Geminae stant vertice cristae," twin crests stand on the head (of Romulus).
IX: 660: Apollo's quiver clangs. They recognise the god and his divine weapons and resounding quiver, as they flee.
IX: 658: He vanishes from their sight, melting into thin air. X1: 785: The Etruscans charge; Arruns prays to Apollo before hurling a spear to kill Camilla. "Great god Apollo, guardian of holy Soracte (a mountain), whom we among the first worship, for whom pine logs blaze in a heap, and, relying on our piety, we step on burning coals through the middle of the fire on the bed of ashes..."
Examples from Pausanias, chiefly concerning Apollo: I: 31: 2: The shrine of Apollo at Prasiae receives the first fruits of the Hyperboreans, by relay. The Athenians take them to Delos. They are hidden in wheat straw.
I: 41: 8: Tereus is buried at Megara. The hoopoe first appeared there. (Cf. Aristophanes, The Birds. The crest of the bird gives it magical significance.)
II: 24: 1: At Larisa is a shrine of Apollo, first built by Pythaios of Delphi. There is a statue of Apollo of the Ridge. There is a priestess who once a month drinks lamb's blood and is filled with the god.
VII: 22: 2: At Pharai in the agora there is a stone statue of bearded Hermes. It has an oracle. In front of the statue is a hearthstone, with bronze lamps stuck on with lead. Burn incense on the hearthstone, fill the lamps with oil, light up, put a copper coin on the altar to the right of the god, and whisper your question in the god's ear. Stop up your ears, go into the market place, unstop, and the first thing you hear is the oracle. The Egyptians have a similar oracle at the sanctuary of Apis. (Vide Herodotus II :153, re the temple of Hephaestus at Memphis).
IV: 34: 7: In Messenia, there is a seaside shrine of Apollo Korunthos (Crested).
III: 16: 7: At the Limnaeum there is a statue of Artemis stolen from the Taurians by Orestes and Iphigenia.
Astrabakos and Alopekos, sons of Irbos, went mad when they found this statue. When the Spartans of Limnae, and the men of Kynosouria, Mesoa and Pitane sacrificed to Artemis, they quarreled and shed blood. Many died at her altar, and disease carried off the rest. Originally there was human sacrifice; Lycurgus changed this to whipping.
III: 22: 1: Near Gythion is a stone, 'Fallen Zeus', where Orestes's madness left him. VIII: 15: 9: On Mount Krathis in Arcadia is a sanctuary of Pyronian Artemis. The Argives used to fetch fire from the goddess for the Lernaean festival.
VIII: 38: The city of Lycosoura is the oldest of all in the earth, the first city the sun ever saw. It is the source of men's knowledge of how to build cities.
Apollo is associated with the seven-day week, his birthday being on the seventh.
His title as leader of the Muses was 'Mousagetes'. The Muses themselves are sometimes referred to as Leibethrides. This word is connected with the verb leibo, pour (of libations). Libations were offerings of water, wine and blood to the dead and to the gods below. In this context it is worth considering the importance that the Greeks and Romans attached to remembering the dead, the Di Manes. The Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Memory, according to the most generally accepted story
Artemis is 'Hekaerge', she who operates at a distance. In the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, line 529, Apollo promises Hermes a fine staff of riches and wealth, golden, with three branches, which will keep him akerios, safe from harm.
Hermes: He is similar to Apollo, and may be considered here. Plato, Ion 534 E: Poets are interpreters (hermeneis) of the gods. Iliad XXIV: 339: The guide and killer of Argos obeyed: he at once bound on his feet the beautiful ambrosial golden sandals, that carried him over boundless land and sea with the speed of the wind; he took his staff, with which he charms men's eyes if he wishes, or wakes them from sleep.
Iliad XIV: 489: Ilioneus, son of Phorbas who owned many sheep, whom Hermes loved most of the Trojans and had made him rich. In this capacity, as bringer of good fortune, he was known as Eriounios, the Helper, and Akaketa, the Gracious and Benignant.
In his pastoral capacity he was Nomios. He was Dolios as an expert in secret dealings, Odyssey XIX: 397. Autolycus surpassed all in theft and perjury; the god Hermes had given him this skill. Hermes is Chrysorrhapis, he of the golden wand. He is Psychopompos, conductor of souls to Hades, Odyssey XXIV: 1. He is Pyledokos, Watcher of Doors, in Homeric Hymn to Hermes, I. 15. He is Hodios, or Enodios, a god whom you meet on the road.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Vinctus 680: Hermes killed Argus instantly: "Unexpected sudden doom robbed him of life." Elsewhere Hermes charms him to sleep with his rod and then cuts off his head.
His early life story is similar to that of Apollo. Passages concerning: Eros; Aphrodite; electrical magic: Iliad III: 64: The lovely gifts of golden Aphrodite. Iliad XXIV: 611: When Niobe's children were killed by Artemis, they lay in blood for nine days, since the son of Kronos had turned the people into stone. The heavenly gods buried them on the tenth day.
Odyssey XIII: 119: When the Phaeacians take Odysseus in their ship to Ithaca, they put him down on the shore fast asleep.
Aeneid 1: 660: Venus sends Cupid to inflame (incendere) the queen, and to put fire in her bones (ossibus implicet ignem).
713: Dido looks at Ascanius, the young son of Aeneas, and is set on fire (ardescit) with love of Aeneas by looking at him.
Aeneid IV: 23: Dido confides in Anna, her sister: "I recognize the signs of the old flame ..."
280: When Hermes has spoken, Aeneas's hair stands on end and his voice sticks in his throat.
VI: 224: At the funeral pyre of Misenus, they look away as they hold the torch, in the approved manner.
VIII: 389: Venus wheedles a suit of armour from Vulcan: "He suddenly felt the well-known flame, and the familiar glow entered his marrow and coursed through his trembling bones just like a flash of fiery lightning from a thunder cloud."
Pausanias I: 14: 4: Epimenides of Cnossus went into a cave to sleep, and slept for forty years. He then wrote poems and purified cities, including Athens.
IX: 25: 9: The anger of the Kabeiroi cannot be removed. Remnants of Xerxes's army who entered their shrine in Boeotia went mad, jumping over cliffs and into the sea. Macedonians of Alexander's army were destroyed by lightning.
X: 29: 9: When Theseus and Peirithous descended to Hades, they were trapped and held in stone seats. There is a picture of them, amongst others, by Polygnotus, at Delphi.
VI: 25: 1: At Elis, inside the precinct of the temple of Aphrodite, mounted on a platform, is a bronze statue by Skopas of Aphrodite riding a goat, also of bronze.
She stands with one of her feet on a tortoise. Euripides, The Bacchae 405: Cupids who bewitch the mind. The word 'bewitch' is thelgo, and is what Hermes does with his wand.
Hermes is said to have been the first to kindle a fire. He used laurel as tinder. Probably laurel symbolises a flickering electrical light or glow. 'Prometheus Vinctus' 599: Io enters; her movements, skirtemata, are irregular; she is pestered by a gadfly sent by Hera. See section on dance, in Chapter XXII.
Aeneid VIII: 372: Vulcan has a golden room, aureus thalamus.
Birds. Birds were so important in prophecy that they may well be discussed in this chapter on the Delphic deities.
In Greek ornis is the word for a bird, whether wild or domesticated. It can have the same significance as oionos, a bird of omen. Oionos can mean the omen itself.
In Latin, ales, alitis, winged, is used alone to mean a large bird. Small birds are volucres. Fulvus Iovis ales, the yellow bird of Jupiter, is the eagle, minister fulminis, the servant of the thunderbolt, flammiger, the flame carrier. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, is Cyllenius ales, named after Mount Cyllene, his birthplace in Arcadia. Perseus is aureus ales, the golden bird.
In augury, alites give omens by their flight. Such are the buteo, a kind of falcon, and the sanqualis.
The latter was the osprey, sacred to the Sabine deity Sancus. The eagle, aquila, was another bird watched for its flight.
The oscines gave omens by their voice; for example, the crow, cornix the owl, noctua, sacred to Minerva, and the raven, corvus, sacred to Apollo. The raven's flight was favourable if it was seen on the right, the crow's was good if seen on the left.
It may be helpful to glance at a play by Aristophanes, The Birds. It was first performed in Athens in 414 B. C., at the Great Dionysia, in the middle of the Peloponnesian war, when Athens was at war with Sparta. The play is anti-war and Utopian. Peithetairos and Euelpides, sick of Athenian life, consult King Tereus, who had been turned into a hoopoe, and ask him which is the best place to live. After some discussion, Peithetairos suggests that the birds unite to build a great walled city in the air. It will be impregnable, for they will control the food supply of gods and men.
The birds agree. The two Athenians grow wings, and Nephelokokkugia, Cloud-cuckoo-land, is built.
Iris is caught trespassing when she inquires why sacrifices have stopped. She is sent away. More visitors arrive --all mortals want wings. Prometheus arrives, tells of the gods' food shortage, and urges Peithetairos to make hard terms, to demand Basileia, Sovereignty, daughter of Zeus, as his wife. A deputation of gods arrives, Poseidon, Herakles, and a Triballian god. Peithetairos is successful, and a marriage is arranged. Many kinds of birds are mentioned in the play. The hoopoe, formerly King Tereus, plays an important part. Apollodorus, 3: 14, tells of his past history.
Pandion of Athens had two daughters, Procne and Philomela. Tereus, king of Thrace, married Procne, but also assaulted Philomela. In revenge the sisters killed his son Itys, and served him up to his father Tereus for dinner. When Tereus pursued them, he was turned into a hoopoe, Procne into a swallow, and Philomela into a nightingale. This story can be compared with the other instances of murders and feasts treated in the chapter on heroes and Herakles.
The hoopoe had great religious significance. In Greek it is epops. The epoptes is an initiate in the Eleusinian Mysteries; the word means 'one who beholds'. The bird has a remarkable erectile crest, chiefly gold with a little black. In the play it sings a serenade, in the course of which we hear that Apollo has golden hair. For its Hebrew name, 'dukhiphat', spirit revealer, see the glossary. There is a frieze of hoopoes in Crete, at Knossos.
Other birds mentioned with crested heads and necks are the coot, phaleris, sacred to Aphrodite, and the lark korudalle. In Latin alauda cristata is the crested lark. The Legio Alauda was a legion named after the lark. The crested wren was called turannos, king. In line 291 ff., we hear that the birds are crested as though for the hoplitodromos, the soldier's footrace, in which each soldier wore a crested helmet and carried a shield.
The cock, alektruon, was the most important domestic bird. The Persian king wore a peaked hat, kurbasia. The king alone wore it upright like a cock's comb. It is portrayed in a mosaic of the battle of Issus.
The cock, alektryon, is not the only bird whose name contains the syllable al or el. We have met the lark alauda. If its voice, Greek aude, is here associated with el, so that its name is El's voice, we can see why a Roman legion should have the name. Alkuon, Latin alcedo, is the kingfisher. Alkedonia are the fourteen days when kingfishers brood and the sea is calm. The Greek kuo means contain.
The woodpecker is in Latin picus, in Greek druops. As drus is a tree, especially an oak tree, it seems possible that the name means the voice from the tree. Another kind of woodpecker mentioned in The Birds is the drukolaptes. Qol is the Hebrew for voice. The woodpecker was important in augury for its note and appearance. It was sacred to Mars. Perhaps its rapid fire tapping suggested a hail of missiles.
The eagle, aetos, was the bird of Zeus. It was often shown on a sceptre  . The falcon, hierax, is obviously sacred with such a name (hieros, sacred). In Egypt Horus was the falcon god.
The owl, glaux, was sacred to Athene, who is called Glaukopis, with owl-like appearance. Some owls are called horned owls, but in the case of Athene the staring eye is likely to be the reason for the epithet. Sufferers from jaundice were advised to look at the stonecurlew. This bird has large golden eyes. Plutarch writes: "The bird draws out the malady, which issues, like a stream, through the eyesight."
The wryneck, iunx, was used by witches for spells. This bird's magical importance may owe something to the fact that it makes a hissing sound, suggestive of a snake.
A bronze eagle and a bronze dolphin were set up at Olympia where the chariot races were held. The eagle was raised, and the dolphin lowered, as a signal for the start of a race.
Three more words of interest from The Birds may be quoted. Line 275: Exedros is a term used in augury. It means inauspicious, literally 'out of one's seat'.
Line 521: The soothsayer is called 'tampon', shining. Line 364: Eleleleu is a Greek war-cry. Among the Central American birds known as quetzals, the 'resplendent trogon' is well known for its long tail feathers, causing it to be worshipped by the Toltecs. The god Quetzalcoatl, whose name means 'tail-feathers' and 'snake', is associated with the morning star, the planet Venus. The resplendent trogon not only had significance because of the tail, but also resembles the hoopoe in having a crest.
The Greek adjective epitumbidios, crested, is applied to crested larks, from the resemblance of the crest to a mound. Tumbos, mound or tomb, is the mound over the ashes of a dead person, surmounted by a stele, tombstone. The divine fire in the head is discussed in the chapter dealing with the Timaeus of Plato.
The Latin phrase 'jubar stella' means Phosphorus and Hesperus,
i. e. the planet Venus. The Latin jubar is the radiance of a
heavenly body. Ar is divine fire. Juba is the flowing mane or
hair of an animal, the crest of a serpent, the crest of a helmet,
the foliage of trees, and the tail of a comet.
Notes (Chapter Five: Deities of Delphi)
1. Homer: 'Iliad' XXI: 511
2. Aeschylus: 'Agamemnon' 1085
3. Homer: 'Iliad' XX: 131
4. Cicero: 'De Divinatione' I: 24
5. Vergil: 'Aeneid' IV: 160 ff.
6. Euripides: 'Orestes' 480
7. Hesiod: 'Theogony' 120
8. Pindar: Olympian IX: 219
9. Herodotus: I; 195