The Golden God: Apollo 0670344125

Retells the myths surrounding the figure of Apollo, the Greek god of medicine and music, protector of flocks and voyager

244 102 5MB

English Pages 114 Year 1973

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

The Golden God: Apollo
 0670344125

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

S.

R.

H.

S.

T

MEDIA CENTER

7823

Gatesv Doris

292 GA

The fio Id en godApo 11

mn

•ee

DATE It'

^i'97

FEl^'qq ''

JE^^ JA25

'yr,

'^3

il-V"-^--^ •.*k -JS

"> "7

!/«>••

vC

i.

PI

CI' '95

'

9b

1

Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2010

http://www.archive.org/details/goldengodapolloOOgate

The Golden God Other Titles in the Greek Myths Retold by Doris Gates

Series

Lord of the Sky: Zeus

The Warrior Goddess:

Two Queens

Athena

of Heaven: Aphrodite and Demeter

Mightiest of Mortals: Heracles

A

Fair

Wind

for

Troy

DORIS GATES

The Golden God APOLLO Illustrated

by Constantinos CoConis

The Viking Press New York

^ANTA RITA HIGH MEDIA CENTER

These

stories are all dedicated to

the boys and girls of Fresno County, California,

who heard them first

Copyright

©

1973 by Doris Gates

All rights reserved First

published in 1973 by

625 Madison Avenue, Distributed in

The Viking

New

Press

York, N.Y. 10022

Canada by

Penguin Books (Canada Limited Library of Congress catalog card number: 72-91397 Printed in U.S.A.

398

I.

Apollo

2.

Greek myths

ISBN 0-670-34412-5 2

3

4

5

6

85

84

83

82

81

CONTENTS \The Birth o£ Leto's Twins The Story o£ Niobe NApollo and Python

7 12

19

The Story o£ Daphne

24

Apollo and Hermes

29

Apollo and Pan

43

Apollo's Revenge and Punishment

49

Coronis

49

The Wooing of Alcestis The Revenge of Artemis

55

Admetus Seeks

a Substitute

61

The Arrival of

Heracles

66

Wins a Prize The House of the Sun Heracles

58

70 77

A Crucial Question

81

Phaethon Drives the Chariot of the Sun

86

Apollo's Grief

89

Orion Acteon

100

Clytie

104

Glossary

109

91

The Birth of LetosTwins Leto the Titan was about

to give birth.

She knew

her offspring would be twins. Zeus had sired them,

and Hera, Zeus's jealous

wife,

was making

life

unbear-

able for Leto. Hera threatened to destroy any spot on

land or sea that dared harbor Leto during her labor.

So no ruler would

let

her stay within his borders, and

the Titan was a wanderer

drew At

upon

the earth as her time

near.

she

last

came

could not properly be called land since

Delos.

It

moved

like flotsam

was

sea.

it

to a small floating island called

As

it

on the surface of the water. Neither swept near the shore on which she

stood, Leto spoke to

"You,

it

too, are a

it.

wanderer," she

said. "I

roam

the

THE GOLDEN GOD

8

on me. have fame

earth and you the sea. Therefore have pity

me

Give

and

rest,

and

promise that you will

I

riches."

The

little

island was caught by her words.

bright with wild flowers,

even a grove of surface,

its

trees.

and

No

it

possessed

no

riches, not

precious metals lay beneath

was too small ever

it

become

to

mighty kingdom.

Now

fame and riches

only she might rest within

if

had nothing

to fear

its

flowery

from Hera's wrath?

to lose!

"Very well," the island rest

a

the Titan had promised Delos

meadows. What had Delos It

Though

here with me;

I

have

said to Leto.

little to offer

"Come and

but a

safe birth-

place for your children."

So Leto waded to the shores of Delos, and the island floated off with her. to twins, a

and

of the

after that she gave birth

The boy was the god Apollo goddess Artemis. They were to be-

boy and a

his sister the

come two

Very soon girl.

most important of

on high Olympus. Poseidon the god

all

the godly family

of the sea, anchored Delos to the

ocean bottom following that birth. As the shrine of Apollo, the golden god, the

mous throughout

little

island

became

fa-

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

a

Leto's promise was abundantly fulfilled.

The

Birth of Leto's Twins

Apollo became the best loved of

Mount Olympus. He was

all

on

the gods

the golden god,

and always

the brightness of sunshine surrounded him. His gifts

mankind were more precious than

to

gold.

He

was

god of medicine and god of music; he was associated particularly with the music of the lyre, a gift of his

brother Hermes. voyagers.

He

was the protector of

flocks

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

to

punish

man's arrogance.

He

succeeded the god of the sun, Helius, the Titan,

who drove

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.

Wearing

a dazzling

Artemis, twin

sister of

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.

as swiftly

and

in her hand.

as truly as those of

But while Apollo's arrows brought woe

man, Artemis usually reserved hers forest

bow

for the hunt.

to

The

rang with the twang of her golden bow when

she and her maidens

(all

of

whom

had taken a vow

never to marry) were following the chase. Like her ter

her

sis-

Athena, Artemis disdained romantic love. Aphro-

dite,

goddess of love, had no power over her, and she

p

THE GOLDEN GOD

lO could be cruel to any

man who

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

all

tried to

the shadowy depths of the forest.

Delos was helpless to protect Leto for long.

Hounded

by Hera, the Titan again found herself a wanderer

upon came

the earth,

now with two

at last to the

babies to care

for.

land of Lycia. For a long time no

rain had fallen there.

The sun

beat fiercely down, and

the fields were parched. Leto was weary, and above thirsty.

Her

She

all,

children, too, were thirsty, having drained

her breasts of milk. She was wondering desperately

what she could do her

own

suffering

to stop their fretful crying

when

the end of a small valley.

and end

she spied a fair-sized lake at It lay like a

jewel under the

hot sky, and she hastened eagerly toward

it.

As she approached the water, she noticed a group of laborers gathering the reeds and osiers that grew thickly in the

damp

soil at

the lake's edge. Carefully

Leto laid her babies upon the cool ground, then knelt to drink.

water

But hardly had she touched her

when

the cruel people rushed

seized her rudely

"Why ing from

water

is

upon

thirst,

They

her.

and dragged her away from the

are you doing this?" she cried. "I

and

my

am

lake.

suffer-

children are, too. Surely the

there for everyone.

coming here only thirst."

lips to the

to drink.

I

mean you no harm by

Therefore

let

me end my

The But the people only laughed she tried to fight her

way back

Birth of Leto's Twins at

her pleading.

to the water, they

before her and splashed into the lake. their feet about so that

and

all

the water

When

mud rose from

ran

They kicked

the lake bottom,

became undrinkable. Leto wept

at

the sight and the people taunted her.

Suddenly anger seized the Titan. She remembered she was a goddess, the beloved of Zeus. Humility

away from

her.

fell

Raising her hands to heaven she

prayed, "Let these cruel people live forever in this lake."

A

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.

their heads

appeared above the surface, they berated

Leto with voices that had become mere croakings.

Suddenly their necks shortened and their heads sank

down

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.

ii

The Story of Niobe Niobe was queen

in

Thebes, the

city

founded by Cad-

mus. She was the proud mother of fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters.

now

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

is

a

proud mother,

too.

altars.

Leto herself

who commands you through me,"

the seer told them.

The women were

quick to obey her summons. They

The

Story of

Niobe

gathered fragrant herbs and flowers and fashioned themselves crowns.

Thus

the city's akars, there to for the

decorated, they hurried to

burn incense and

offer prayers

Titan and her godly twins.

When

news of

all this

reached Niobe, she was

furi-

ous.

"Who

Leto that she should be honored in

is

this

way?" demanded the queen. "What has she done but

would be more

give birth to two children? It this feast

my

were in

honor.

I

fitting

if

have borne fourteen

handsome sons and daughters. I, too, am descended from the gods. Zeus is my grandsire, and I am as beautiful as

any goddess."

Thus

did Niobe scorn the Titan.

her serving

ment

women

to

moved,

it

she ordered

deck her in the very

that her wardrobes held. It

of gold thread

Then

and was

finest gar-

was a gown woven

as light as

down.

When

flowed about her slender figure, and

she

when

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

left

the ladies of

her palace to address the

women

of

Thebes. "It

is

absurd for you to be honoring Leto," she told

them. "Take those wreaths

but two children while

done with

I

off

your heads. Leto has

can boast of fourteen. Have

this foolish celebration."

73

THE GOLDEN GOD

14

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

defied or

green land.

"The queen

of

Thebes has

greatly insulted

she informed the twins. "She has dared to

because

I

me,"

mock me

have only you two children while she has

seven sons and seven daughters. She has even dared to destroy

my altars."

Apollo broke

we

in. "I

have heard enough.

The

longer

punishment

will

be de-

stay here, the longer her

layed."

Artemis agreed with

them

glide

down

Their mother watched toward Thebes, their bows

this.

the air

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.

On

well-groomed steeds

The

Story of

Niohe

bridled with gold, the sons of Niobe wheeled and gal-

loped their chargers.

made

cloths

a bright

The

brilliance of their saddle

show

of color against the glossy

One

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.

sons of

Niobe

fell to

of these

the dust, pierced by the arrows

of Apollo, the Far-Darter.

News of

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

my

know whom

to

thank for

"Leto of the stony heart. Yet you have

victory over me.

My sons are gone and my

for grief has taken his

daughters, seven

own

life.

handsome maids

But to

still I

hus-

have

comfort

my

old age."

The

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

Niobe

fell,

pierced through the breast.

75

the golden god

j8

When

six

had died, Niobe threw her body over the

youngest and pleaded for her one," she prayed. "Here

is

my

life.

me

"Leave

youngest,

my

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.

this

littlest.

lost

now.

So terrible was her grief that the gods took pity

upon her and turned her statue. face.

But

it is

into an unfeeling marble

said that tears

still

run down

its

stone

Apollo and Python When

they were grown, Apollo and Artemis were re-

ceived into the family of gods on

Mount Olympus.

The Olympians made the occasion an important bration. The three Graces danced, Aphrodite

cele-

with

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

One to

day, soaring

among

became powers on them, and it,

they

the family of gods.

through the bright sky from Delos

the mainland of Greece,

mighty mountain. Below

it

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

The moun-

was Parnassus, and the land lying under

shadow was Delphi.

its

THE GOLDEN GOD

22

In

all his

wanderings the god had never before seen

a land so fair.

He knew

at

once that

must be

this

his

shrine, the seat of his oracle. For in addition to his

other

gifts,

Apollo had the

scended to Earth,

gift of

at a place

prophecy.

He

de-

where mist rose from

deep chasm. But an oracle was already established

The Titan Themis had made

Delphi.

and

to

guard

it

it

a at

her abode,

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.

of

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

Castalian spring

come

to lay their treasure at the feet of the oracle of

Delphi and

to receive

its

prophecies.

A

great temple

arose at the base of the mountain, a temple to Apollo.

Inside

it

was a stone marking the center of the world,

while over

its

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

Maia

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

bright sunlight

lay. It

mouth

walking sturdily

of the cave

where

was noon, and the sun shone

THE GOLDEN GOD

30 directly

home. face

down upon him

It felt

and

he came out of his cave

as

up

good, and the baby god tipped

lifted his

arms

his

to Apollo's fiery chariot blaz-

ing in the sky.

He

took a few steps into the sunshine and caught

sight of a

tortoise

making

its

slow way along the

ground. Hermes stared in astonishment ture, then started

"Here low,

I

is

toward

it,

at the crea-

laughing.

treasure," he exclaimed.

"Come

old

fel-

have plans for you."

Hermes

seized the tortoise,

thing's efforts to

draw into

its

and despite the poor

shell

and save

itself,

the

young god managed to kill it with merciful quickness. Next he ripped off its shell. "This

will

make an

excellent plaything," said the

god, eyeing the shell speculatively. "It will joy to

all

mankind. This speckled

become

shell shall

a

be the

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

shell,

curved gently in upon

He

lengths

strung these across the

fastening the ends where

itself.

of

When

it

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

forth.

in his swaddling clothes (the lyre hidden safely

them), and waited for his mother to find him.

under

Apollo and Hermes

When

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

fast asleep.

He

could escape with perfect

time he had a plan

all

worked out

in his

safety.

This

baby mind.

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

as

he

left his cave.

The

plan he had worked out was to steal the cattle

of the golden god. This was

no small

herd was pastured on the slopes of far off in

feat since the

Mount Olympus

Thessaly near the spring Pieria, dear to the

was a very long journey, from one end of

Muses.

It

Greece

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.

backward

of reed fashioned footgear in

He

fastened

so that their trailing ends

them

to his feet

were under

his

3/

THE GOLDEN GOD

32

With each

toes.

step he took, his tracks

showed him

be walking backward. Backward he drove the

cattle,

mile upon mile.

too, for

When and

to

the

moon began

to

climb the

man

herd came upon an old

his

Hermes work in his

sky,

at

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.

vineyard.

"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?"

The

old

man

nodded, unable

"Only remember,"

said

to speak.

Hermes, "or

it

will

go

ill

with you."

He proceeded with

the herd until he

and here he

two

river,

killed them, he

ducing

way

when

rubbed two

a spark that

This was the this

sacrificed

since

first

he

time that

Prometheus

heifers. After

upon

fire first

the blaze was right, the it

strength, threw the carcasses

he had

a

heap of tinder.

had been kindled gave

it

to

in

man. And

young god dragged the and,

upon

odor of the roasting meat soon

Hermes, though hungry by

to a large

laurel sticks together, pro-

let fall

slaughtered kine toward

came

so

the

great fire.

filled

this time,

The

the

knew

was

his

savory

air,

but

better than

was for the family on Mount Olympus, the family he hoped he and his mother to eat

it.

His

might soon

sacrifice

join.

Apollo and Hermes

When

the sacrifice was completed, and the

moon

was going down in the west, Hermes drove the

meadow

at last into a

his cave

home

climbed into

near the cave.

he went

silently,

it,

at

Then

once

cattle

entering

to his cradle,

and tucked himself up snugly

in his

swaddling clothes, the picture of baby innocence.

But Maia was not

fooled. Like

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

she

full well

your theft of

his cattle,

Hermes laughed

my

son."

impertinently. "Oh, Mother,

why

bother to scold? I'm not like other children; this you

know.

I

have a plan for

us,

and

this night's

work

will

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

it.

god, the god of thieves. the better of me.

he

has,

And

Not even if

he

great Apollo can get

tries, I'll steal

even his sacred tripod

at

everything

Delphi on which his

priestess sits to give out oracles."

So saying Hermes drifted tossed

till

And ing

off to

sleep,

but Maia

dawn upon her couch.

with the dawn, Leto's golden son came spring-

down

the

Olympian

slopes to check his cattle.

A

shadow crossed the god's bright brow. What was

this?

He

And

counted again. Fifty gone!

It

could not be!

53

THE GOLDEN GOD

^4 yet

it

He

was.

searched the ground, but

pointed toward Olympus.

And what were

all

these strange

marks? Apollo stopped to study them more

saw them plainly in the sand

the steps

closely.

—webbed markings

He

as if

reeds crisscrossed a frame. But these, too, pointed

to-

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

my

been stolen from _

'

P'leria.

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?

The

man pondered

old

this for a

Whom should he fear the most? "Well,

sir,

the fact

is,"

he began cautiously, "many

pass by this vineyard in a day. I

never see

as I

Some

bend my attention

I

some

notice and

to

my

task.

Yet

it

me that I remember last night seeing moon a child, a mere infant really, driving

does seem to

under the

a herd of cattle backward. It seems unlikely that

could be true, so

I

may have dreamed

it

it

merely."

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.

an

infant,

he stood stooping in the cave's entrance, the sunlight bright behind him.

Hermes, peeping over the side of the god.

He

saw

at

his cradle,

beheld

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

moment even

the

them.

Apollo strode to the slyly

crib.

around the large cavern. but no

"You are

my

looked

He looked all grimly. Then he sent

sleeping baby.

Apollo smiled

He

cattle did

he

see.

It

down on

innocence, and his eagle's gaze

might have held

He

fifty cattle,

turned back to the

thieving rascal," cried the golden god. kine? Tell

me

the

crib.

"Where

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

my cows."

55

THE GOLDEN GOD

5