Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in ancient Greek and Roman religion, Greek and Roman mythology, and Greco–Roman Neopaganism. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more
Apollo was not of Greek origin. Some scholars have suggested that he was first worshiped in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), while others have identified him with the Egyptian god Horus. There is also a suggestion that his cult was brought to Greece by traders from Cyprus. Apollo entered the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses at a relatively late stage. Lists of deities found on stone tablets at Knossos on the island of Crete form around 1400 BCE and Pylos in Greece from around 1200 BCE do not include his name […] However, by the time Homer wrote his epic poem Iliad (dated to the ninth or eighth century BCE), Apollo was established as a major figure in Greek mythology.
The oracle of Apollo at Delphi was the greatest of Greek oracles, and its buildings can still be visited on Mount Parnassus. These buildings are the latest in a series of temples, each replacing the last as it was destroyed in an earthquake. A huge stone still stands in the temple, known as the Omphalos stone, the navel of the world. In some accounts, Apollo set up the oracle at Delphi, but his fought wih the giant serpent Pytho on Mount Parnassus has also been interpreted as an allegorical account of the invading race of Dorian Greeks conquering the older Pythian oracle, replacing its female deity with an Olympian male.
Apollo slew the Pythos, an enormous serpent which lurked in the caves on Mount Parnassus at Delphi, with his arrows. The oracle of Apollo at Delphi replaced Mount Olympus as the centre of Greek religion. According to one account, Apollo himself was buried at Delphi; for Pythagoras is said to have carved an inscription on his tomb, setting forth how the god had been killed by the python and buried under the tripod.
Apollo is also well known for his big mistake in mocking a fellow god. One day he made fun of Eros, saying he had no archery skill and was too small to have much significance. Eros then shot an arrow at Apollo, making him infatuated with the sea nymph Daphne. He then shot another arrow at Daphne which made her unable to love anyone. Apollo continuously persued Daphne until she finally called for help from a river god and she was changed into a laural tree before Apollo could get to her. This is why the laurel is his sacred tree.
There are several stories about Apollo as a man desperately in love, avenging the women who will not return his feelings: Cassandra was cursed to never be believed when she saw terrible things in the future, Daphne had to become a tree to escape him and he abandoned princess Creusa of Athens and their child.
Apollo also loved men. In the story of the young man Hyacinthos Apollo accidentily kills his young lover with a discus, and is then transformed into the flower with the same name, where the letters AI AI can be read as the gods lament.
When his half brother Hermes invented the lyre, Apollo liked the sound of it so much, that he exchanged his immortal cattle for it. Later, he took from Hermes the pan-pipe, in exchange for his golden wand. The Greek god Apollo was a very good player and he was convinced no one played better than him. In a contest with the god Pan, king Midas was in the jury. Pan played some rustic melodies and everyone liked them. Then it was Apollo's turn, and everyone agreed that Apollo was the best. All, except Midas - to whom Apollo gave a pair of donkey ears, for the way he had judged the god's music.
Apollo had many, sometimes contradictory, attributes. As a solar god, he did not directly represent the sun, but he was a protector of crops and caused fruit to ripen. He is often shown holding a bow with arrows symbolizing the sun's rays. As an archer he was also known as "Hecatebolos", the god of sudden death. He was also a healer who drove out illness, and the father of Asclepius (the god of medicine), but in one legend he brings a terrible plague upon Argos where the king had put one of Apollo's lovers to death.
Apollo was the god of the sun. Each day he drove his chariot of fiery horses across the sky to give light to the world. Apollo had a son called Phaethon, who was human. Phaethon nagged at Apollo to let him borrow the sun chariot and fly across the sky. Finally Apollo agreed. Phaethon proudly drove the sun chariot up into the sky, but then he lost control of the horses. The sun chariot dived towards the earth, burning everything. Finally Jupiter had to stop him with a thunder bolt.
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. Apollo was considered to be the son of Zeus and Leto, and the father of Asclepius, also associated with Medicine. Apollo was the most handsome of all the Greek Gods, depicted with golden hair, an archer's bow, and a lyre. Apollo represents the principles of rational consciousness, wisdom, courage, clarity and truth, who shows people how to bring light to their minds and inner beings.
Apollo was god of music, playing the lyre, and is often shown leading the Muses in song. While his arrows could bring pestilence and sudden death, he was also a healer, and one of his most famous sons was the divine physician Asklepios.
Apollon was one of the most popular gods with innumerable shrines and sanctuaries scattered throughout the Greek world. The most important of these was the great oracle at Delphoi, which not only provided prophesies of the future, but also ruled on matters of religion. In classical sculpture Apollon was portrayed as a handsome youth, or adoscelent boy, with long unshorn locks of hair, often tied back above his head. His usual attributes were an arrow, lyre, lizard or snake (the latter symbolizing the Python serpent of Delphoi).