Apollo (Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek: Ἀπόλλων, Apollōn (gen.: Ἀπόλλωνος); Doric: Ἀπέλλων, Apellōn; Arcadocypriot: Ἀπείλων, Apeilōn; Aeolic: Ἄπλουν, Aploun; Latin: Apollō) is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in ancient Greek and Roman religion, Greco–Roman Neopaganism, and Greek and Roman mythology. 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 is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.
As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague. Amongst the god's custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.
In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon. In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.
Apollo, like other Greek deities, had a number of epithets applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few occur in Latin literature, chief among them Phoebus (ˈfiːbəs/ FEE-bəs; Φοίβος, Phoibos, literally "radiant"), which was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans in Apollo's role as the god of light.
As sun-god and god of light, Apollo was also known by the epithets Aegletes (/əˈɡliːtiːz/ ə-GLEE-teez; Αἰγλήτης, Aiglētēs, from αἴγλη, "light of the sun"), Helius (/ˈhiːliəs/ HEE-lee-əs; Ἥλιος, Helios, literally "sun"), Phanaeus (/fəˈniːəs/ fə-NEE-əs; Φαναῖος, Phanaios, literally "giving or bringing light"), and Lyceus (/laɪˈsiːəs/ ly-SEE-əs; Λύκειος, Lukeios, from Proto-Greek *λύκη, "light"). The meaning of the epithet "Lyceus" later became associated Apollo's mother Leto, who was the patron goddes of Lycia (Λυκία) and who was identified with the wolf (λύκος),earning him the epithets Lycegenes (/laɪˈsɛdʒəniːz/ ly-SEJ-ə-neez; Λυκηγενής, Lukēgenēs, literally "born of a wolf" or "born of Lycia") and Lycoctonus (/laɪˈkɒktənəs/ ly-KOK-tə-nəs; Λυκοκτόνος, Lukoktonos, from λύκος, "wolf", and κτείνειν, "to kill"). As god of the sun, the Romans referred to Apollo as Sol (/ˈsɒl/ SOL; literally "sun" in Latin).
In association with his birthplace, Mount Cynthus on the island of Delos, Apollo was called Cynthius (/ˈsɪnθiəs/ SIN-thee-əs; Κύνθιος, Kunthios, literally "Cynthian"), Cynthogenes (/sɪnˈθɒdʒɨniːz/ sin-THOJ-i-neez; Κύνθογενης, Kunthogenēs, literally "born of Cynthus"), and Delius (/ˈdiːliəs/ DEE-lee-əs; Δήλιος, Delios, literally "Delian"). As Artemis's twin, Apollo had the epithet Didymaeus (/dɪdɨˈmiːəs/ did-i-MEE-əs; Διδυμαιος, Didumaios, from δίδυμος, "twin").
Apollo was worshipped as Actiacus (/ækˈtaɪ.əkəs/ ak-TY-ə-kəs; Ἄκτιακός, Aktiakos, literally "Actian"), Delphinius (/dɛlˈfɪniəs/ del-FIN-ee-əs; Δελφίνιος, Delphinios, literally "Delphic"), and Pythius (/ˈpɪθiəs/ PITH-ee-əs; Πύθιος, Puthios, from Πυθώ, Pūthō, the area around Delphi), after Actium (Ἄκτιον) and Delphi (Δελφοί) respectively, two of his principal places of worship. An etiology in the Homeric hymns associated the epithet "Delphinius" with dolphins. He was worshipped as Acraephius (/əˈkriːfiəs/ ə-KREE-fee-əs; Ἀκραιφιος, Akraiphios, literally "Acraephian") or Acraephiaeus (/əˌkriːfiˈiːəs/ ə-KREE-fee-EE-əs; Ἀκραιφιαίος, Akraiphiaios, literally "Acraephian") in the Boeotian town of Acraephia (Ἀκραιφία), reputedly founded by his son Acraepheus; and as Smintheus (/ˈsmɪnθjuːs/ SMIN-thews; Σμινθεύς, Smintheus, "Sminthian"—that is, "of the town of Sminthos or Sminthe") near the Troad town of Hamaxitus. The epithet "Smintheus" has historically been confused with σμίνθος, "mouse", in association with Apollo's role as a god of disease. For this he was also known as Parnopius (/pɑrˈnoʊpiəs/ par-NOH-pee-əs; Παρνόπιος, Parnopios, from πάρνοψ, "locust") and to the Romans as Culicarius (/ˌkjuːlɨˈkæriəs/ KEW-li-KARR-ee-əs; from Latin culicārius, "of midges").
In Apollo's role as a healer, his appellations included Acesius (/əˈsiːʒəs/ ə-SEE-zhəs; Ἀκέσιος, Akesios, from ἄκεσις, "healing"), Acestor (/əˈsɛstər/ ə-SES-tər; Ἀκέστωρ, Akestōr, literally "healer"), Paean (/ˈpiːən/ PEE-ən; Παιάν, Paiān, from παίειν, "to touch"), and Iatrus (/aɪˈætrəs/ eye-AT-rəs; Ἰατρός, Iātros, literally "physician"). Acesius was the epithet of Apollo worshipped in Elis, where he had a temple in the agora. The Romans referred to Apollo as Medicus (/ˈmɛdɨkəs/ MED-i-kəs; literally "physician" in Latin) in this respect. A temple was dedicated to Apollo Medicus at Rome, probably next to the temple of Bellona.
As a protector and founder, Apollo had the epithets Alexicacus (/əˌlɛksɨˈkeɪkəs/ ə-LEK-si-KAY-kəs; Ἀλεξίκακος, Alexikakos, literally "warding off evil"), Apotropaeus (/əˌpɒtrəˈpiːəs/ ə-POT-rə-PEE-əs; Ἀποτρόπαιος, Apotropaios, from ἀποτρέπειν, "to avert"), and Epicurius (/ˌɛpɨˈkjʊriəs/ EP-i-KEWR-ee-əs; Ἐπικούριος, Epikourios, from ἐπικουρέειν, "to aid"), and Archegetes (/ɑrˈkɛdʒətiːz/ ar-KEJ-ə-teez; Ἀρχηγέτης, Arkhēgetēs, literally "founder"), Clarius (/ˈklæriəs/ KLARR-ee-əs; Κλάριος, Klārios, from Doric κλάρος, "allotted lot"), and Genetor (/ˈdʒɛnɨtər/ JEN-i-tər; Γενέτωρ, Genetōr, literally "ancestor"). To the Romans, he was known in this capacity as Averruncus (/ˌævəˈrʌŋkəs/ AV-ər-RUNG-kəs; from Latin āverruncare, "to avert"). He was also called Agyieus (/əˈdʒaɪ.ɨjuːs/ ə-GWEE-ews; Ἀγυιεύς, Aguīeus, from ἄγυια, "street") for his role in protecting roads and homes; and as Nomius (/ˈnoʊmiəs/ NOH-mee-əs; Νόμιος, Nomios, literally "pastoral") and Nymphegetes (/nɪmˈfɛdʒɨtiːz/ nim-FEJ-i-teez; Νυμφηγέτης, Numphēgetēs, from Νύμφη, "Nymph", and ἡγέτης, "leader") in his role as a protector of shepherds and pastoral life.
In his role as god of prophecy and truth, Apollo had the epithets Manticus (/ˈmæntɨkəs/ MAN-ti-kəs; Μαντικός, Mantikos, literally "prophetic"), Leschenorius (/ˌlɛskɨˈnɔəriəs/ LES-ki-NOHR-ee-əs; Λεσχηνόριος, Leskhēnorios, from λεσχήνωρ, "converser"), and Loxias (/ˈlɒksiəs/ LOK-see-əs; Λοξίας, Loxias, from λέγειν, "to say"). The epithet "Loxias" has historically been associated with λοξός, "ambiguous". In this respect, the Romans called him Coelispex (/ˈsɛlɨspɛks/ SEL-i-speks; from Latin coelum, "sky", and specere, "to look at"). The epithet Iatromantis (/aɪˌætrəˈmæntɪs/ eye-AT-rə-MAN-tis; Ἰατρομάντις, Iātromantis, from ὶατρός, "physician", and μάντις, "prophet") refers to both his role as a god of healing and of prophecy. As god of music and arts, Apollo had the epithet Musagetes (/mjuːˈsædʒɨtiːz/ mew-SAJ-i-teez; Doric Μουσαγέτας, Mousāgetās) or Musegetes (/mjuːˈsɛdʒɨtiːz/ mew-SEJ-i-teez; Μουσηγέτης, Mousēgetēs, from Μούσα, "Muse", and ἡγέτης, "leader").
As a god of archery, Apollo was known as Aphetor (/əˈfiːtər/ ə-FEE-tər; Ἀφήτωρ, Aphētōr, from ὰφίημι, "to let loose") or Aphetorus (/əˈfɛtərəs/ ə-FET-ər-əs; Ἀφητόρος, Aphētoros, of the same origin), Argyrotoxus (/ˌɑrdʒɨrəˈtɒksəs/ AR-ji-rə-TOK-səs; Ἀργυρότοξος, Argurotoxos, literally "with silver bow"), Hecaërgus (/ˌhɛkiˈɜrɡəs/ HEK-ee-UR-gəs; Ἑκάεργος, Hekaergos, literally "far-shooting"), and Hecebolus (/hɨˈsɛbələs/ hi-SEB-ə-ləs; Ἑκηβόλος, Hekēbolos, literally "far-shooting"). The Romans referred to Apollo as Articenens (/ɑrˈtɪsɨnənz/ ar-TISS-i-nənz; "bow-carrying"). Apollo was called Ismenius (/ɪzˈmiːniəs/ iz-MEE-nee-əs; Ἰσμηνιός, Ismēnios, literally "of Ismenus") after Ismenus, the son of Amphion and Niobe, whom he struck with an arrow.
Apollo was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. In the traditionally Celtic lands he was most often seen as a healing and sun god. He was often equated with Celtic gods of similar character.
* Apollo Atepomarus ("the great horseman" or "possessing a great horse"). Apollo was worshipped at Mauvières (Indre). Horses were, in the Celtic world, closely linked to the sun.
* Apollo Belenus ('bright' or 'brilliant'). This epithet was given to Apollo in parts of Gaul, Northern Italy and Noricum (part of modern Austria). Apollo Belenus was a healing and sun god.
* Apollo Cunomaglus ('hound lord'). A title given to Apollo at a shrine in Wiltshire. Apollo Cunomaglus may have been a god of healing. Cunomaglus himself may originally have been an independent healing god.
* Apollo Grannus. Grannus was a healing spring god, later equated with Apollo.
* Apollo Maponus. A god known from inscriptions in Britain. This may be a local fusion of Apollo and Maponus.
* Apollo Moritasgus ('masses of sea water'). An epithet for Apollo at Alesia, where he was worshipped as god of healing and, possibly, of physicians.
* Apollo Vindonnus ('clear light'). Apollo Vindonnus had a temple at Essarois, near Châtillon-sur-Seine in Burgundy. He was a god of healing, especially of the eyes.
* Apollo Virotutis ('benefactor of mankind?'). Apollo Virotutis was worshipped, among other places, at Fins d'Annecy (Haute-Savoie) and at Jublains (Maine-et-Loire)
The cult centers of Apollo in Greece, Delphi and Delos, date from the 8th century BCE. The Delos sanctuary was primarily dedicated to Artemis, Apollo's twin sister. At Delphi, Apollo was venerated as the slayer of Pytho. For the Greeks, Apollo was all the Gods in one and through the centuries he acquired different functions which could originate from different gods. In archaic Greece he was the prophet, the oracular god who in older times was connected with "healing". In classical Greece he was the god of light and of music, but in popular religion he had a strong function to keep away evil. Walter Burkert discerned three components in the prehistory of Apollo worship, which he termed "a Dorian-northwest Greek component, a Cretan-Minoan component, and a Syro-Hittite component."
From his eastern-origin Apollo brought the art of inspection from "symbols and omina" ( σημεία και τέρατα : simia ke terata ), and of the observation of the omens of the days. The inspiration oracular-cult was probably introduced from Anatolia. The ritualism belonged to Apollo from the beginning. The Greeks created the legalism, the supervision of the orders of the gods, and the demand for moderation and harmony. Apollo became the god of shining youth, the protector of music, spiritual-life, moderation and perceptible order. The improvement of the old Anatolian god, and his elevation to an intellectual sphere, may be considered an achievement of the Greek people.
When Zeus' wife Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra firma". In her wanderings, Leto found the newly created floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island. She gave birth there and was accepted by the people, offering them her promise that her son would be always favourable toward the city. Afterwards, Zeus secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later became sacred to Apollo.
It is also stated that Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go by offering her a necklace, nine yards (8 m) long, of amber. Mythographers agree that Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo, or that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. Apollo was born on the seventh day (ἑβδομαγενής) of the month Thargelion —according to Delian tradition—or of the month Bysios—according to Delphian tradition. The seventh and twentieth, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him.