Copyright - 1993 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.


In Greek mythology, Apollo and his twin sister, ARTEMIS, were the children of ZEUS and LETO and were born on the island of DELOS. Hence, Apollo was often called the Delian god, and Delos long remained a center of his worship. He was also identified closely with DELPHI, in central Greece, where he killed the serpent PYTHON and founded the most renowned center for prophecy in the ancient world, the shrine of the Delphic Oracle.

Areas of special concern to Apollo were prophecy, medicine, (this link leads to current practices based upon meditation upon light, with which Apollo was also associated leading to powers of prophecy and healing - was this ancient tradition derived from the old practice of the worship of Apollo?) the fine arts, archery, beauty, flocks and herds, law, courage, and wisdom.

Some of the links on this page refer to Hammerwood Park built by Latrobe as a temple of Apollo in 1792.Here's an analysis of the Parthenon Frieze based upon the symbolism of the Gods' arrangement and characterisation to see how they might be working within the context of the frieze. The Borghese vase, plaques derived from which are at Hammerwood, suggests that Dionysus were opposing forces of the same thing.

Associated with Apollo were the tripod, omphalos (a beehive-shaped stone at Delphi, designating that spot as the center or navel of the Earth), lyre, bow and arrows, laurel wreath, palm tree, wolf, hawk, crow, and fawn.

Although Apollo was not Greek in origin, he became, next to Zeus, the god most revered by the Greeks and the god who best embodied the Greek spirit. Later he became confused with the sun-god HELIOS and was considered the god of light. Of Apollo's many loves, one of the best known was DAPHNE, who fled his embraces and was turned into his tree, the laurel. From that time on, Apollo wore a laurel wreath. Laurel wreaths became the prize awarded in athletic and musical competitions.

ASCLEPIUS, a son of Apollo, became the god of medicine; another son, Linus, was a renowned music teacher. In Roman mythology, Apollo represented the literary and fine arts, culture, and the law. Augustus (r. 31 BC-AD 14) built a magnificent temple to him and included in it two public libraries, one for Greek works and another for Latin works. Apollo was a favorite subject for artists of every medium.

The walls of his temple at Delphi bore two Greek maxims, "Know Thyself" and "Nothing in Excess."

Robert E. Wolverton

Apollo is also connected with Dionysus, shown on the reverse of the Borghese Vase. Herodotus connected Apollo with the Egyptian god Horus, also associated with the sun who slew Typhon - Python?
Click to return to Hammerwood Resources page and for tour of the Parthenon Frieze. and here for the tour of Hammerwood and the Borghese Vase plaques

This page was inspired by Latrobe's work at Hammerwood Park. Click here to visit or stay.