CLA204H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Pythia, Homeric Hymns, Mount Olympus

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30 Jul 2016
CLA204- Chapter 7: Myths of the Great God Apollo
Apollo The Far Darter, God of Prophecy
Origin and meaning of name are unknown
In winter, where Dionysus ruled at Delphi, Apollo dwelled among the Hyperboreans, “the men beyond the North Wind”
In the classical period, Apollo is sometimes called a sun god but in origin he had no connection to the sun
Represented as archer god but he is not a god of hunters
oArrows are shafts of disease, emerging from the spirit world, irresistible, unseen, striking down the luckless
The Birth of Apollo on Delos
One of the longest of the Homeric Hymns is dedicated to Apollo
oComposed of 2 songs: To the Delian Apollo  describes how he was born, parents, and greatness of his power
oSecond song: To the Delphian Apollo which is older, tells about the founding of his oracle at Delphi
Hymns tell how Titaness Leto was a mistress of Zeus
oShe was persecuted by Hera who said no land that sees light of day can receive her children
oNo land would receive her (poems list 30 places she visited before finding one) until she got to 2 waterless islands in
the center of Cyclades who received her: Delos and Ortygia
oShe delivered after 9 days of labour when Hera was bribed to agree by a necklace of gold and amber thirty feet thick
oApollo was born in Delos and Artemis was born in Ortygia (twins)
As soon as Artemis and Apollo were born, the hitherto floating islands were suddenly anchored in their present places
oOne tradition says after they were born, Hera released the Giant Tityus from the earth to rape Leto but Apollo and
Artemis cut him down in a shower of arrows and Zeus condemned him to eternal punishment in Hades
Apollo at Delphi
Apollo’s role in prophecy was especially associated w. the oracular shrine to him at Delphi, perched on a precipitous slope on
Mount Parnassus near the Corinthian Gulf
Other part to “To the Delphian Apollo” speaks of how when Apollo was born, he joined the gods on Olympus
Apollo the singer became the god of the Greek elite aristoi, a projection of their own self- image
He was really talented with the lyre, he got challenged by Marsyas master of the double flute, Apollo won and he flayed
Marsyas alive
Apollo’s destruction of the serpent Python is a greek form of the dragon combat, like the fight of Marduk against Tiamat
Having killed the dragon, Apollo had to be cleaned from blood pollution, miasma
oHe travelled to the valley of Tempe in Thessaly at the foot of towering mount Olympus where he was ritually
oBecause he was cleansed, he could free others from it too, and many pilgrims journeyed to Delphi to submit to the
appropriate ritual purification
Observations: The Delphic Oracle
Second half of Homeric Hymn to Apollo makes much of the god’s eagerness to establish an oracular shrine so that he might
enjoy its income and renown, but it tells us little about the history of the shrine and even less about the procedure followed there
The oracle at Delphi functioned under Apollo over 1000 years  most renowned oracle of the ancient world
Greeks thought of Delphi as the middle of the world, a location determined by Zeus when he sent out two eagles, one from
each horizon, to see where they would cross
According to the legend there was an earlier oracle which functioned Gaea or Themis, and some scholars interpret the slaying
of Python, the earth monster, to stand for Apollo’s displacement of the earlier earth oracle
The notion of the world- navel, in addition to the fact that the Delphi oracular responses were always given by a woman,
encourages the view that the shrine did once belong to an earth- goddess, but archeologists have found no evidence to confirm it
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