Apollo

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In Greek mythology, Apollo {NOT Appollo - one '-p-', two '-l-'s) was the god of light, and specifically a god of the sun (see also Helios). He was the son of Zeus and Leta, a Titaness, and twin brother of Artemis. The adjective 'to do with Apollo' is apollonian.

He was widely worshipped, in various capacities. He was often portrayed as an ideally handsome youth, as may be seen in the famous marble statue known as the Apollo Belvedere, now in the Vatican Museum; a Roman copy of a lost Greek original once regarded as the standard for male beauty. It was adapted by Bernini for his 'Apollo and Daphne'. As a result, the phrase 'an Apollo' was once common usage for 'a handsome young man'.

Apollo was seen by the ancient Greeks as the god of

  • the sun, in which capacity he is known as Phoebus (~ 'shining') or Phoebus Apollo, and is sometimes depicted with rays radiating from his face;
  • archery, where his sister Artemis is the goddess of hunting: his arrows killed many Greeks at the siege of Troy;
  • prophecy, where he was the patron of the Delphic oracle, and known as Pythian Apollo, after he had killed the great python, a child of Gaia and a primeval force which had inspired the prophetic utterances of the Pythia, a priestess; after the snake's death, Apollo took its place and inspired the Delphic oracles himself;
  • and the arts, particularly music. He played the lyre on Mount Olympus at the gods' feasts, and the Muses were his companions. He was sometimes known as 'musagetes' ('Muse-leader') in this function. Matthew Arnold wrote a poem called Apollo Musagetes, which may be found at [[1]], amongst others.

Apollo has been adopted in recent times as the name of various places, institutions, brands and so on, perhaps most notably as the name of the US space program designed to put men on the moon, culminating in the Apollo 11 mission when, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon ("That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind"), while Buzz Aldrin remained in the Lunar Module and Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command spacecraft.