Characteristics of the Greek Sun God Apollo

Apollo is one of the most important deities in Greek and even Roman mythology. It has had a strong impact on history and especially on the people who believe in it. The characteristics of Apollo is what makes him so memorable, an immortal being that with his many powers has made him magnificent and a very memorable god.

Apollo Features

Apollo is a main God for the Greeks since he is found as one of the twelve gods that govern Olympus. He being one of the six most important and as the Romans name him, Phoebus. His parents are: the mighty god Zeus and the goddess Leto. Having as a result of this union the twins, the goddess Artemis and the god Apollo, sharing in many ways similarity with several of her powers.

Apollo ‘s characteristics were multiple and he is remembered for that. He was not only the God of the sun (although this title had already been given to Helios) and of light; that he clarified the visions, granted the future to oracles offering them the truth, as many think.

He was in charge of bringing divinities to human beings through his power of light, so that everything that needed contact with sunlight, such as agriculture and cattle, would grow strongly. He is the guardian of sailors, farmers, ranchers and archers. That’s why people in these specialties flocked to him.

He also specialized in being the God of arrows and the bow. He protected and defended those who came to him, as is the case in Paris. He voluntarily participated in wars, intervening many times in the situations or circumstances of these, changing the outcome.

It was said that with his bow and arrows he caused death in many. In different ways, causing plagues or instant death, as is the case with Achilles. But that he could also heal wounds or illnesses through her.

He was so strong and powerful that the other gods feared him, he was practically unstoppable but the only ones capable of controlling his power were his parents. That is why he was also nicknamed the god of war, but without the intensity and violence of the true god of war, Ares.

As already mentioned, he has many qualities in terms of being a god, considered multifaceted. Since he was also the god of beauty and youth, taking care of those humans who entered this stage. Just as he was the main one in maintaining harmony, balance and establishing perfection. And the main virtue of him was that he was always right.

Many references are made to him in art, such as works, paintings and sculptures because he was also the god of this matter and of music. That is why always in each writing that there is of him or the references, the nine muses follow him, who were his inspiration and he was the one who guided his choir. His beauty was such that all the artists wanted to portray him and be part of his wisdom in art to enlighten them in search of the right path to success and artistic knowledge.

origins of the cult

It is not very clear what its origin was because most of Greek mythology was oral. Very little of the beginning of his history or of the characteristics of Apollo were written since at that time writing was a privilege. The only thing that is known to be true of the origin of the god Apollo, begins in the Iron Age between 1000 a. C or 800 a. C. When the cult of him came from Anatolia or Asia Minor, to the Aegean Sea shared by Greece and Turkey. From there, veneration for said god spread.

It is important to note that by the time Homer mentioned him or the  characteristics of Apollo in his works, he was already a god recognized and revered by the Greek people. The writer in all his works quotes him continuously, since he was a representative of the Trojan side. During the wars there was already a god who was in charge of healing the other gods, which was Pean. But in the course of time people began to call for another god, a god who could create diseases and cure them.

Something impressive in the Iliad since it healed the wounds of the God of war Ares and the God of the underworld Hades. After a time other writers of Greek mythology searched for a god who could have done such things, that was the case of the god of the sun, since the characteristics of Apollo met the requirements. Today they use the symbol of him in medicine.

In the work of the Iliad, Homer wanted to represent in it songs to the doctor of the Gods, Pean. Generating in this way that he knew that everyone was grateful for his work and for his achievements in terms of the victory of the war. The songs dealt with veneration, to request or beg the protection of said god, so that nothing bad would happen to them and ward off pests or plagues that were in the world. And to adore him for fulfilling the supplications.

What is important to note is that all these songs before they were addressed to Pean were to Apollo or gods that bear some resemblance to him, such as: Helios and Dionysus. It is therefore not surprising that Apollo had the title of the God of music, because of the many songs that were addressed to him.

It was important to sing to this god when a battle approached, as they headed off to war, or when their ships landed. Since Apollo was always associated with triumph, the victory of some confrontation. This god was responsible for killing the monstrous Python snake, this was guarding the oracle, on Mount Parnassus, for this reason he was named Apollo Pitio. And thanks to his achievement he was able to claim the oracle, granting him the ability to see prophecies and victories.

Apollo Characteristics Mythology

Its beginnings are not known, but thanks to the fact that Homer represented it in the Odyssey and the Iliad, there is documentation of this God, and of the adoration that people already had for him at that time. There was so much respect, that it was actually a difficult matter to start talking about him, since he didn’t know where to start. For the many attributes or characteristics of Apollo


Zeus had many sons, gods and demigods. But having the twins, it was complicated. Since at that time the wife of Zeus, the Goddess Hera found out that he had also impregnated the goddess Leto, her fury was enormous. So much so, that she proclaims that she did not have her children at the time of birth, on flat land, in some region, not even on some island that was in the ocean.

With practically no choice of where to give birth, the goddess Leto wandered around without finding a place. Until she managed to see a place that was not related to the earth and was not precisely an island. And it was there that she decided to give birth to her children. This place in Delos, Zeus, because of the rage that the goddess Hera had, commanded that this place be hidden in the depths of the sea. Some time later, he made sure that the place was a place of veneration for Apollo.

There was no limit to the wrath of the goddess Hera as it is related that she captured long enough the goddess of motherhood and childbirth, Ilithyia, who was her daughter with Zeus. So in this way the goddess Leta could not give birth to her twins. Which was a terrible thing for the other gods who saw this situation, so they acted accordingly. They made Hera fall into a trap they had set up.

Ilitia was a faithful servant of her mother, but when the other gods gave her a nine meter long chain forged in amber, she agreed to escape from Olympus where she was held captive with the help of the Goddess Iris who helped her in the task of get away. Once Ilitia set foot in the place where Leto was, who suffered labor pains for more than 8 gods, it was that the children were born.

According to other versions they affirm that Artemis was the first to be born. And that her actions were what helped her mother Leto, to give birth to her brother Apollo. It is said that the goddess Artemis was born before her time on an island called Ortigia. And that with her power she was able to take her mother to Delos so that she could have Apollo. And after this the mother of both Leta had to become a wolf so that Hera would not find her, that is why Apollo is called Lycogenes, which means that he is the product of a wolf.

Origin of the myth of the lyre

The lyre is one of the characteristics of Apollo. As he is the God of music, the lyre is the instrument associated with him. It has its origin in one of the many sons of Zeus and is recounted in some of Homer’s poems. It all begins when the goddess Maya becomes pregnant with the god of lightning. From that union Hermes was born on Mount Cilene. While the baby was just asleep, his mother, Maya, put him to bed in her crib so that he would sleep comfortably.

The Goddess did not expect that her newborn, who pretended to be asleep, would get out of his cradle and run from it, to the Balkans. In this place was Apollo with his cows. At a time when the God of light was distracted, Hermes took the opportunity to steal a few cows from his herd. It should be noted that Hermes was given the title of the god of mischief, robbers and businesses.

The God of mischief decided to take the cows to a nearby park where there was a cave and it was in this place that he hid them from the God of the sun, who sees everything. In this cave there were several animals, but what interested him was a turtle. In that he leaves her lifeless, takes him out of his shell and in that he removes the viscera. Already with the shell without anything inside, he takes advantage of the fact that he also killed one of the cows, and with its intestine, he creates the first Lira.

Hermes was back before his mother knew it, still pretending to be under the arms of Morpheus. But Apollo already knew who had been the one who stole her cows and it was for this reason that she decided to complain about the situation with the goddess Maya, but she did not believe what the sun god told her was possible.

Zeus interceded on Apollo’s behalf only because he had seen with his own eyes what his youngest son had done. As Hermes did not want to be punished for his actions, he decided to start playing the Lyre, which he had made himself. At that moment Apollo fell so in love with the instrument, because of the celestial music that came out of it, that he forgot about his anger and made a proposal to his brother. All his cows for that Lira. This became favored by the god of music.

Origin of the myth of Delphi

Delphi is a city that is now considered modern in Greece. But previously it was the city of the oracle of Delphi. This lived guarded by the Python, since it also protected the source of Castalia. The water of this was so hot that its vapors cause the prophecies that the oracle made. The Python, in addition to protecting this sacred site, also obeyed the orders of Zeus’s wife, the goddess Hera.

This goddess ordered the Python to find and kill Apollo’s mother, the goddess Leto. The sun god came to the aid of his mother when she was only a few days old. So she begged the god of fire and blacksmiths, Hephaestus, to forge a weapon capable of killing such a monster.

He gave him a bow and arrows. This snake was killed by Apollo with said weapon. And precisely for this he was reprimanded since the Python was a sacred son of the goddess who represents the earth, Gaia. Hera’s anger did not stop there, but she sent another monster to kill her.

Titios, was the one that Hera also sent but this time a giant. On this occasion I need the intervention of her sister, Artemis, since she shares the characteristics of Apollo in terms of battles and her father Zeus. Thanks to them and mainly to his father, Titios was sent to Tartarus, where it is considered a prison for the Titans and a place full of pain for those who are there.

musical duels

Perhaps as if the title was already more than evidence that Apollo is the God of music was not enough. There were three people who challenged him in a duel to see who was the best in this specialty. First it was a demigod named Pan, who challenged him to see who could handle the zither better. The jury of this musical battle was Tmolo, a god who protects the mountains. Both played and the one who was immediately the winner was Apolo.

Since Pan had a very off-key melody that he and King Midas believed to be the best in the world. Apollo tired of such daring to his abilities turned the ears of that king into ones like those of a donkey. The second who faced the skills of this god was Marsyas. The instrument with which he challenged him was a flute that the goddess Athena herself threw to the ground, because it made her cheeks look very plump.

The jury this time were the same muses that were always with Apollo. But to the surprise of many and of the sun god himself, both opponents were tied precisely when they began to play their respective instruments.

This could not stay this way for Apolo and he demanded a rematch, certain conditions such as playing the instrument and singing at the same time. Which for Marsyas was something impossible since the flute required the power of his breath. And that’s why the god of music won. Like daring to demand a duel with him. Apollo killed him, causing him to bleed to death and his blood to fill the river that bears the name of Marsyas.

The last case that wanted to challenge the musical skills of the God of music. It was his own son, Cinyras. He challenged him with his father’s favorite instrument, the Lyre. In this musical battle, the loser was his son’s and for this reason he decided to commit suicide.

The Trojan War

This was a great event for all the gods that were part of Olympus. And even of what was not in it. It is for this reason that the god of lightning, Zeus. I implore all the sons of his gods and demigods not to dare to be part of this war.

But neither decided to take their father’s word into account. Since they all participated and among themselves they found themselves separated by the different parties in the war. But it was impossible for Apollo to comply with what his father said. Since in the war is one of his many sons, Troilus.

Apollo was the one who contributed to the death of Achilles. Since Paris the Trojan prince wanted the warrior’s death for having killed his brother, Hector. The sun god knew that Achilles’ only weakness was his heel, which is why he guided Paris’s arrow to that specific spot. Because he had been responsible for killing his son, Troilus.

other myths

This God of the sun and light, has many myths. Most of it deals with his mistresses and the children he had with them, that’s one of the many characteristics of Apollo . One of the most important is that of Daphne, a nymph. Apollo who constantly mocked Cupid, god of desire. This tired man decided to launch a golden arrow that made him love the first person he saw in this case was Dafne.

And in turn he shot her with a lead arrow making her hate him. But Apollo did not give up and pursued her. The nymph that was exhausted and that she wanted nothing to do with him. She begged her father to help her and he turned her into a laurel tree.

Attributes and symbols

The bow and arrow are the main symbols attributed to him. Like the bay leaves that are only thanks to the myth of him and the nymph Daphne. Of the animals it would be the wolf for his mother, the deer for another of the myths of him with Coronis. And the serpent with the prophecy by the oracle. These are the characteristics of Apollo .

It is worth mentioning that their cult was considered profane by the Catholic Church and they were sent to kill if this was the case of veneration of the god. Although after a long time, at present, it is already possible to put into practice his cult, in various parts of Europe and especially in Greece.

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