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The Golden God Other Titles in the Greek Myths Retold by Doris Gates
Lord of the Sky: Zeus
The Warrior Goddess:
of Heaven: Aphrodite and Demeter
Mightiest of Mortals: Heracles
The Golden God APOLLO Illustrated
by Constantinos CoConis
The Viking Press New York
^ANTA RITA HIGH MEDIA CENTER
stories are all dedicated to
the boys and girls of Fresno County, California,
who heard them first
1973 by Doris Gates
All rights reserved First
published in 1973 by
625 Madison Avenue, Distributed in
York, N.Y. 10022
Penguin Books (Canada Limited Library of Congress catalog card number: 72-91397 Printed in U.S.A.
ISBN 0-670-34412-5 2
CONTENTS \The Birth o£ Leto's Twins The Story o£ Niobe NApollo and Python
The Story o£ Daphne
Apollo and Hermes
Apollo and Pan
Apollo's Revenge and Punishment
The Wooing of Alcestis The Revenge of Artemis
The Arrival of
Wins a Prize The House of the Sun Heracles
A Crucial Question
Phaethon Drives the Chariot of the Sun
The Birth of LetosTwins Leto the Titan was about
to give birth.
her offspring would be twins. Zeus had sired them,
and Hera, Zeus's jealous
able for Leto. Hera threatened to destroy any spot on
land or sea that dared harbor Leto during her labor.
So no ruler would
her stay within his borders, and
the Titan was a wanderer
the earth as her time
could not properly be called land since
to a small floating island called
on the surface of the water. Neither swept near the shore on which she
stood, Leto spoke to
too, are a
THE GOLDEN GOD
on me. have fame
earth and you the sea. Therefore have pity
promise that you will
island was caught by her words.
bright with wild flowers,
even a grove of surface,
precious metals lay beneath
was too small ever
fame and riches
only she might rest within
from Hera's wrath?
"Very well," the island rest
the Titan had promised Delos
meadows. What had Delos It
here with me;
said to Leto.
little to offer
place for your children."
So Leto waded to the shores of Delos, and the island floated off with her. to twins, a
after that she gave birth
The boy was the god Apollo goddess Artemis. They were to be-
boy and a
his sister the
Very soon girl.
most important of
on high Olympus. Poseidon the god
the godly family
of the sea, anchored Delos to the
ocean bottom following that birth. As the shrine of Apollo, the golden god, the
the world. Each year a festival was
held there, where a temple had been erected to Apollo
huge statue of the god placed before it. People brought riches to the temple, and wealthy merchants came to dwell there in houses worthy of the gods. and
Leto's promise was abundantly fulfilled.
Birth of Leto's Twins
Apollo became the best loved of
Mount Olympus. He was
the golden god,
the brightness of sunshine surrounded him. His gifts
mankind were more precious than
god of medicine and god of music; he was associated particularly with the music of the lyre, a gift of his
brother Hermes. voyagers.
was the protector of
As the god of archery, he was often
and of feared,
for his silver arrows never failed to find their mark.
Apollo was often called the Far-Darter. Sometimes his arrows
brought plagues upon mankind
succeeded the god of the sun, Helius, the Titan,
the fiery chariot across the sky each day.
diadem upon his golden head, Apollo was a welcome figure to all the people of Earth, as, dispelling darkness, he brought them light and warmth.
Apollo, was also an archer.
She was goddess of the hunt and was never without a quiver on her back and a golden
Her arrows sped brother.
in her hand.
as truly as those of
But while Apollo's arrows brought woe
man, Artemis usually reserved hers forest
for the hunt.
rang with the twang of her golden bow when
she and her maidens
had taken a vow
never to marry) were following the chase. Like her ter
Athena, Artemis disdained romantic love. Aphro-
goddess of love, had no power over her, and she
THE GOLDEN GOD
lO could be cruel to any
win her favors. She was not a lovable goddess, though she often assisted women in childbirth and was the guardian of children and all young things. She avoided cities, preferring above
the shadowy depths of the forest.
Delos was helpless to protect Leto for long.
by Hera, the Titan again found herself a wanderer
now with two
at last to the
babies to care
land of Lycia. For a long time no
rain had fallen there.
beat fiercely down, and
the fields were parched. Leto was weary, and above thirsty.
children, too, were thirsty, having drained
her breasts of milk. She was wondering desperately
what she could do her
to stop their fretful crying
the end of a small valley.
she spied a fair-sized lake at It lay like a
jewel under the
hot sky, and she hastened eagerly toward
As she approached the water, she noticed a group of laborers gathering the reeds and osiers that grew thickly in the
the lake's edge. Carefully
Leto laid her babies upon the cool ground, then knelt to drink.
But hardly had she touched her
the cruel people rushed
seized her rudely
"Why ing from
and dragged her away from the
are you doing this?" she cried. "I
children are, too. Surely the
there for everyone.
coming here only thirst."
lips to the
mean you no harm by
me end my
The But the people only laughed she tried to fight her
Birth of Leto's Twins at
to the water, they
before her and splashed into the lake. their feet about so that
mud rose from
the lake bottom,
became undrinkable. Leto wept
the sight and the people taunted her.
Suddenly anger seized the Titan. She remembered she was a goddess, the beloved of Zeus. Humility
Raising her hands to heaven she
prayed, "Let these cruel people live forever in this lake."
strange compulsion seized her tormentors as she
spoke the words. They seemed unable to leave the wa-
Those who had crawled up onto the shore jumped back into the lake and submerged themselves. When ter.
appeared above the surface, they berated
Leto with voices that had become mere croakings.
Suddenly their necks shortened and their heads sank
on their shoulders. As they leaped to shore, their legs underwent a change, too. They became long and thin and supple, and webs appeared between their fingers and toes. Their bodies shrank until they were no larger than human hands. Her tormentors had been changed to frogs. Leto's prayer had to sit directly
been answered. She waited until the water had cleared, then Leto
and her babies drank.
The Story of Niobe Niobe was queen
founded by Cad-
mus. She was the proud mother of fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters.
Her twins were no longer children but a youth and maiden skilled in archery. Deciding the time had come for the people to do them and herself special honor, she chose the city of Thebes as the scene of this celebration. She made her wishes known to Manto, a woman who could foretell the future. Manto went through the streets calling to the women of Thebes to crown their heads and Leto was
hasten to the "It
who commands you through me,"
the seer told them.
The women were
quick to obey her summons. They
gathered fragrant herbs and flowers and fashioned themselves crowns.
the city's akars, there to for the
decorated, they hurried to
burn incense and
Titan and her godly twins.
reached Niobe, she was
Leto that she should be honored in
way?" demanded the queen. "What has she done but
would be more
give birth to two children? It this feast
have borne fourteen
handsome sons and daughters. I, too, am descended from the gods. Zeus is my grandsire, and I am as beautiful as
did Niobe scorn the Titan.
deck her in the very
that her wardrobes held. It
of gold thread
was a gown woven
as light as
flowed about her slender figure, and
Niobe stood regally still, it hung in shimmering, vertical folds. Her shining hair, caught up at the sides with jeweled combs, hung down her back to blend its gold with the glistening gown. Indeed Niobe was a most beautiful
woman when, surrounded by
her court, she
the ladies of
her palace to address the
absurd for you to be honoring Leto," she told
them. "Take those wreaths
but two children while
your heads. Leto has
can boast of fourteen. Have
this foolish celebration."
THE GOLDEN GOD
Manto's cheeks paled
as she listened to the words.
She knew the danger of defying the gods, and here was
queen actually insulting one of them. No good could come of it. Yet the seer dared not go against the angry queen, though in her heart she feared for Niobe. She watched with dread as the women removed their crowns and smothered the smoldering incense. the
Leto soon learned of Niobe's defiance, for the gods
knew when mortals
mocked them. She called Apollo and Artemis to her on the summit of Mount Cynthus, the highest point on the island of Delos, Below them were the island's heavily indented shores, the blue Aegean waters biting deep into the always
she informed the twins. "She has dared to
have only you two children while she has
seven sons and seven daughters. She has even dared to destroy
have heard enough.
stay here, the longer her
Artemis agreed with
Their mother watched toward Thebes, their bows
on their backs. There was a parade ground around the walls of Thebes where the young nobles of the city liked to in hand, their arrows in bronze quivers
display their horsemanship.
bridled with gold, the sons of Niobe wheeled and gal-
loped their chargers.
brilliance of their saddle
of color against the glossy
young princes, Tantalus, had just pulled his horse to a sudden halt when an arrow pierced his breast. He dropped his reins with a cry and slid from his saddle, dead. There was a second cry and another and another as one by one the hides of the horses.
the dust, pierced by the arrows
of Apollo, the Far-Darter.
and she woman now from
the disaster quickly reached Niobe,
rushed from the palace, a different
queen who had mocked Leto such a short time before. She came stumbling, blind with grief, to bend over the bodies of her sons. But still pride possessed her. With arms raised to the proud
heaven, she cursed Leto. "I this," she cried.
won no band
"Leto of the stony heart. Yet you have
victory over me.
My sons are gone and my
for grief has taken his
daughters had followed their mother to the
As Niobe finished speaking, there came the loud twang of a bow, and one of the girls dropped dead, an arrow of Artemis through her heart. Again the bow twanged, and again spot where their brothers had fallen.
a daughter of
pierced through the breast.
the golden god
had died, Niobe threw her body over the
youngest and pleaded for her one," she prayed. "Here
Only leave me this one." But even as she spoke, the girl died. Niobe sank down among her dead. All was Her proud boasting had brought her to this.
So terrible was her grief that the gods took pity
upon her and turned her statue. face.
into an unfeeling marble
said that tears
Apollo and Python When
they were grown, Apollo and Artemis were re-
ceived into the family of gods on
The Olympians made the occasion an important bration. The three Graces danced, Aphrodite
them. Hebe, cupbearer of the gods, served ambrosia to Leto's twins.
Once they had eaten
immortal. Zeus bestowed special so they took their places
became powers on them, and it,
the family of gods.
through the bright sky from Delos
the mainland of Greece,
mighty mountain. Below
Apollo came upon a
stretched a plain lying be-
tween two mountain ranges and ending in the blue waters of a wide gulf, the gulf of Corinth. tain
was Parnassus, and the land lying under
shadow was Delphi.
THE GOLDEN GOD
wanderings the god had never before seen
a land so fair.
shrine, the seat of his oracle. For in addition to his
Apollo had the
scended to Earth,
at a place
where mist rose from
deep chasm. But an oracle was already established
The Titan Themis had made
she placed in the sanctuary a huge
serpent called Python.
As Apollo was about to enter the sanctuary. Python came gliding forth, breathing fire and thrashing his great coils from side to side. The young god fitted an arrow to his bow and sent it winging into the body of the huge snake. But it continued to menace the god. It wasn't until Apollo had emptied his quiverful of arrows, one by one, into the scaly body that Python finally lay dead.
Knowing that nothing could stand before the son Zeus, Themis took herself off, and Apollo was left
in possession of this fairest spot
on Earth. Here the
would one day spill its purifying waters from a cleft in the mighty mountain to the stony basin below. From all the known world kings would
to lay their treasure at the feet of the oracle of
arose at the base of the mountain, a temple to Apollo.
was a stone marking the center of the world,
portal were two inscriptions reflecting
Ap olio and Hermes Hermes, son of Zeus and the nymph Maia, was born in a cave in Arcadia. Following his birth, gentle
wrapped him lovingly in swaddling clothes and placed him in his cradle. But this was no ordinary infant; no cradle would hold him long. Like any other healthy, newborn baby, Hermes slept peacefully for several hours. Around noon he wakened. It was dark and quiet in the cave. He looked about him. Off in a shadowy corner his mother lay sleeping. There was no one else around. Very quietly Hermes slipped out of his swaddling clothes,
climbed out of
his cradle and,
upright, approached the
of the cave
was noon, and the sun shone
THE GOLDEN GOD
down upon him
he came out of his cave
good, and the baby god tipped
to Apollo's fiery chariot blaz-
ing in the sky.
took a few steps into the sunshine and caught
sight of a
slow way along the
ground. Hermes stared in astonishment ture, then started
at the crea-
treasure," he exclaimed.
have plans for you."
seized the tortoise,
thing's efforts to
and despite the poor
young god managed to kill it with merciful quickness. Next he ripped off its shell. "This
excellent plaything," said the
god, eyeing the shell speculatively. "It will joy to
mankind. This speckled
highlight of every feast, a necessity of the dance, a treasure of the very gods."
Hermes immediately procured seven sheep gut, cut very thin. inner area of the
curved gently in upon
strung these across the
fastening the ends where
he had done, he
swept his fingers across the strings and a sweet sound
Hermes had invented the lyre! His first day's work accomplished, the precocious baby returned to his cradle, rolled himself up again came
in his swaddling clothes (the lyre hidden safely
them), and waited for his mother to find him.
Apollo and Hermes
the sun's horses had descended the western
begun their long journey under ocean to the Gates o£ Dawn, Hermes became restive. He had lain in his cradle all afternoon and he was bored. Besides, the dark that lay beyond the cave's mouth intrigued the infant even as the sunlight had done earlier. Again he looked carefully about, and again he found Maia sky and
could escape with perfect
time he had a plan
upon the great Apollo. For all his golden might, Apollo would have to reckon with this small new brother. Hermes laughed softly It
involved playing a trick
left his cave.
plan he had worked out was to steal the cattle
of the golden god. This was
herd was pastured on the slopes of far off in
feat since the
Thessaly near the spring Pieria, dear to the
was a very long journey, from one end of
to the other. It
would have taken a mounted make such a march. But then this
army many days to was no ordinary infant!
In a remarkably short time, young Hermes was at
Olympus and there, dark shadows against the night, moved the cattle. Quickly Hermes cut out fifty head, all of them the valued property of the base of high
Apollo. Next he tossed off his sandals, and with moss
and twigs and lengths the shape of snowshoes.
of reed fashioned footgear in
so that their trailing ends
to his feet
THE GOLDEN GOD
step he took, his tracks
be walking backward. Backward he drove the
mile upon mile.
herd came upon an old
Hermes work in his
The man, amazed, watched the strange scene in silence. But when Hermes caught sight of the old man he hailed him in a voice that quite belied his size.
"Old man," cried the god, "if anyone should pass this way and ask if you have seen a herd of cattle, remember that you have seen nothing. Nothing at all. Do you hear?"
He proceeded with
the herd until he
and here he
killed them, he
a spark that
This was the this
the blaze was right, the it
strength, threw the carcasses
heap of tinder.
had been kindled gave
young god dragged the and,
odor of the roasting meat soon
Hermes, though hungry by
to a large
laurel sticks together, pro-
slaughtered kine toward
was for the family on Mount Olympus, the family he hoped he and his mother to eat
Apollo and Hermes
the sacrifice was completed, and the
was going down in the west, Hermes drove the
at last into a
near the cave.
to his cradle,
and tucked himself up snugly
swaddling clothes, the picture of baby innocence.
But Maia was not
any other mother,
when her errant son had come home. Moreover, she knew what he had been about, and now she warned him from her shadowy couch. "Apollo, I fear, will make you pay most dearly for knew
your theft of
impertinently. "Oh, Mother,
bother to scold? I'm not like other children; this you
have a plan for
Do you want to spend your whole immortal life in this dark cave? Then leave off scolding me and trust my cleverness. Were I like other children, then you'd have something to worry about. Instead, I am a further
god, the god of thieves. the better of me.
Not even if
great Apollo can get
tries, I'll steal
even his sacred tripod
Delphi on which his
priestess sits to give out oracles."
So saying Hermes drifted tossed
dawn upon her couch.
with the dawn, Leto's golden son came spring-
slopes to check his cattle.
shadow crossed the god's bright brow. What was
counted again. Fifty gone!
could not be!
THE GOLDEN GOD
searched the ground, but
pointed toward Olympus.
And what were
marks? Apollo stopped to study them more
saw them plainly in the sand
reeds crisscrossed a frame. But these, too, pointed
ward the slopes where the cattle should be pastured and were not. What trick was this? Apollo straightened and gazed south as a certainty seized him. Then he was off, his arrows clanging in the quiver on his back. The first person he met was the old man still at work in his vineyard. "Tell me, old man, did you see a herd of cattle
go by here in the night? Fifty head have
been stolen from _
herd pastured near the spring
moment. He knew a god addressed him and he knew which god. But he also knew that the baby who had threatened him last night was no mortal child. Whom should he obey?
this for a
Whom should he fear the most? "Well,
he began cautiously, "many
pass by this vineyard in a day. I
bend my attention
me that I remember last night seeing moon a child, a mere infant really, driving
does seem to
a herd of cattle backward. It seems unlikely that
could be true, so
may have dreamed
Apollo had heard enough and quickly continued on his way, his suspicions all confirmed.
This brat was
Apollo and Hermes
Only Zeus could have sired such and Apollo knew where to find him. Soon
his father's youngest.
he stood stooping in the cave's entrance, the sunlight bright behind him.
Hermes, peeping over the side of the god.
once that his brother was furious,
impudent Hermes felt concern, for a god's wrath is fearful to behold. But confidence came quickly back to the little god of thieves, and he snuggled closer into his swaddling clothes, his beloved tortoise shell hidden safely under and
for a brief
Apollo strode to the slyly
around the large cavern. but no
He looked all grimly. Then he sent
innocence, and his eagle's gaze
might have held
turned back to the
thieving rascal," cried the golden god. kine? Tell
quickly or such a quarrel will
grow between us as only our father Zeus can resolve." He reached in and gave the "sleeping" baby a shake. "Speak or I shall hurl you into Tartarus where you may dwell among the tortured gods. Where you may watch Sisyphus forever pushing his heavy stone up the unending hill and the damned Tantalus forever struggling to end his thirst. Such will be your fate little brother if you do not tell me at once where you have hidden
THE GOLDEN GOD