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University of Waterloo
Classical Studies
CLAS 104
Ronald Kroeker

CLAS 104 MIDTERM 2 NOTESTHE BIRTH OF APOLLO Zeus mated with LETO leetoh LATONA who conceived the twin gods ARTEMIS artemis DIANA and APOLLO apolloh The lengthy Hymn to Apollo tells in its first part To Delian Apollo of Apollos birth no mention is made of ArtemisLeto roamed far and wide in her search for a refuge where she might give birth but the many places she approached were afraid to receive her Finally the island of Delos accepted her but only after she assured the island which is personified in the Hymn with a great oath that a sacred precinct of Apollo would be built there and that it would become a place of prosperity wealth and prestigeWhen Leto had endured nine days and nights of labor Eileithyia the goddess of childbirth was summoned by Iris from Olympus to help in the delivery Goddesses present at the birth attended to the newborn child and as soon as Apollo had been nursed on nectar and ambrosia he miraculously became a mighty god who declared that the curved bow and the lyre were his and that he would prophesy to mortals the unerring will of Zeus Leto was delighted with her son and all of Delos blossomed with joyIn the conclusion of this part of the hymn the poet sometimes erroneously believed to be Homer describes the great festival of Apollo at Delos with its famous chorus of maidens who can sing in all dialects and identifies himself as a blind man from Chios whose songs are the best forevermore Bards who are archetypally blind see the Muses truth THE SANCTUARY OF APOLLO AT DELPHI The second part of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo To Pythian Apollothe god of Delphi tells how Apollo travelled in Greece until he found the proper place for the foundation of his oracle Crisa under Mt PARNASSUS parnassus or PARNASSOS where he laid out his temple Then he slew a dragon named PYTHO peyethoh or PYTHON and thus the site was called Pytho Apollo was given the epithet PYTHIAN pitheean and a prophetess of Apollo received the name of PYTHIA pitheea oThe site was called Pytho because the rays of the sun made the monster rotpython means I rotOriginally at this site there had probably been an oracle of the great mothergoddess Gaia and the slaying of the dragon may symbolize conquest by the Hellenes and their god Apollo who thus becomes yet another to add to our list of dragon slayersThe OMPHALOS omfalos navel an archaic stone shaped like an egg with two birds perched on either side was thought to designate the location of the sanctuary at the center of the world According to legend Zeus released two eagles from opposite ends of the earth and they met exactly at the spot of Apollos sanctuary which came to be known universally by the name of DELPHI delfeye or DELPHOI for the following reasonAfter Apollo had established his sanctuary he needed to recruit attendants He spotted a ship sailing from Crete and he sprang aboard in the form of a dolphin The crew was awed into submission and followed a course that led the ship to Crisa Here Apollo revealed himself as a god and initiated them to his service with directions to pray to him as Apollo DELPHINIUS delfineeus or DELPHINOS a word meaning dolphin from which Crisa or Pytho received its new name of Delphi Apollo Belvedere Roman marble copy of earlier Greek bronze THE PANHELLENIC SANCTUARY AT DELPHI The Panhellenic sanctuary of Apollo is in many ways representative of Panhellenic sites elsewhere for example the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia see MLS Chapter 5 Yet the sacred area and the temple built on the lower slopes of Mt Parnassus are particulary aweinspiring and the many dedications made to the god remind us of how Greek religion was responsible for the development of great and universal literature poetry drama sculpture and architecture The Pythian games which were celebrated every four years included both physical and intellectual competitions and the worship of the god oFootraces chariot races musical literary ad dramatic presentations oThe festival is second only to Zeus at Olympia The Oracle and Pythia at Delphi The Panhellenic sanctuary at Delphi was the most important oracle in the Greek worldPeople in general and representatives of states in particular came from all over the Greek world and beyond to ask Apollo questions of every sort The Pythia the prophetess of Apollo uttered the responses of the god as she sat on a tripod Her answers came in incoherent ravings which were transcribed by a nearby priest into intelligible prose or verse In Platos Apology we are told that Socrates learned from the Delphic oracle that he was the wisest of men a response that this great philosopher took very seriously FOUR OF APOLLOS LOVES The Cumaean Sibyl The general designation for a prophetess was SIBYL sibil or SIBYLLA sibilla a Sibyl at Delphi however was called specifically the Pythia as we have notedThe sibyls at Cumae in Italy were famous Most famous among them was the CUMAEAN koumeean Sibyl who was Aeneas guide in the Underworld see MLS Chapter 15 We learn about this Sibyl from Ovid Apollo offered her anything that she wished if only she would yield to him She picked up a heap of sand and asked for as many birthdays as the individual grains but forgot to ask for continuous youth along with the yearsNevertheless Apollo would have given her long life and eternal youth if she agreed to succumb to him When she refused him the god granted her original wish and she withered away eventually to become only a voice This story of the Cumaean Sibyl once again illustrates how our ignorant wishes may be granted to our woe cf Eos and Tithonus MLS Chapter 3 Cassandra
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