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Mythology is everywhere. In fact it has such a grip on our world that our lives would be very different without it. Mythology is the subject of myths and legends, normally dealing with imaginary creatures. Myths have been told since the beginning of time. The purpose of these myths is to explain questions mankind has always asked: “Who am I? Why am I here? Is there something else besides me?” (History) Besides answering these fundamental questions, myths were also used to dictate the moral code of early civilizations. Most stories involved a hero learning a valuable lesson such as courage, responsibility, or perseverance. The story was then used to help the believers follow suit and attain a higher moral standard. (eHow)
Mythology flourished in the ancient kingdoms of Greece and Egypt, but yet it was also strong in Scandinavia, Africa, and Europe. During the time before Christ mythology and the worship of the characters was prevalent. However, it was Greek mythology that captured the world. Egyptian and Norse mythology is fascinating, but not as well known. Everyone knows about the Greeks though. Greek mythology was first started through word of mouth and was passed down through the generations. The first written record of the Greek gods was in 700 BC by the poet Hesiod. He wrote the Theogony, a book which described the origin of the universe and formally introduced the Greek gods to modern scholars. Homer’s Illiad was written a century before but does not name any of the gods; thus it is safe to say Greek mythology is over three thousand years old. (History)
In Greek mythology there are countless gods and mythical creatures. The main gods are known as Olympians. They are known by this name because they dwell on Greece’s tallest mountain, Mount Olympus. Zeus and Hera are the monarchs of the gods, ruling over the other ten. Each god is a patron of something unique. Ares is the god of war, Demeter is the god of agriculture, and Poseidon is the god of the seas. But as for this report, we will focus on the god Apollo. (History)
Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto and brother to Artemis, the goddess of light and the vulnerable. Before he was born a large python was chasing Leto relentlessly, until she finally found a cave and gave birth to both Artemis and Apollo. Pleased with his children, Zeus gave both of the young infants silver bows and arrows. Zeus became a natural shot with his new bow and at the age of four days he slew the serpent at Delphi. However, the serpent turned out to be an oracle and had previously been the best prophesier in all of Greece. Zeus was pleased with his son’s determination to kill the beast, but was also angry that he could no longer consult it for what the future held. As punishment, he sentenced Apollo to a year among the mortals. Before his temporary exile, Apollo learned the art of prophecy. (God and Goddess)
While in exile he served King Admetus loyally. Near the end of his servitude he looked into the man’s future and saw his forthcoming death. But he also saw it could be avoided if someone were to die in his place. No one volunteered except the Admetus’s wife. After his exile, his silver bow and arrows would play a large part of his life. Not only had he used them to kill the python early on, but now he became an expert marksmen. But one day they proved to be more of a curse than blessing. On a certain occasion Apollo found Cupid playing with his silver bow. Apollo became quite angry and disciplined Cupid, who then shot Apollo with one of his arrows. Apollo would now fall in love with the next person he saw. A beautiful girl named Daphne suddenly appeared and Apollo fell in love with her. To add to his revenge, Cupid shot Daphne with a lead arrow which would make Daphne hate love and anything related to it. Apollo vainly pursued Daphne, who eventually turned into a laurel tree to escape him. The laurel is now a symbol of Apollo. Possibly due to this incident, Apollo never married, even though he had numerous relationships and affairs. (God and Goddess)
The rest of Apollo’s eternal life was somewhat boring except for his assistance in the attempted overthrow of Zeus. The overthrow however failed. A last notable fact of Apollo’s life was his morning and evening job. He rode a golden chariot, took the name Helios, and rose and set the sun each day. (God and Goddess)
Apollo was one of the most competitive gods, as was his sister. He had to be the best at everything he did. Being the best at his passions was his primary goal. In fact, he even beat some of the other gods at sports such as boxing and racing. Thankfully for his contesters, he usually won. Apollo was a sore loser and normally punished the victor severely for winning. (God and Goddess)
Apollo was an expert in the art of healing. Even though he learned the skill of prophecy and was also a great archer, he was the best healer in the world. He could cure any illness. But even though he was a fantastic healer, he could also cause plagues to befall cities. After the failed coup of Zeus, he was exiled for a year to the building of Troy’s walls. When his wages were refused, he caused a great disease to pester the city and the bodies rose higher than the walls. When the king relented, Apollo cured the illness from the survivors. Because of his amazing powers, he is the patron god of healing. (God and Goddess)
The god Apollo was also quite a jealous God. His sister Artemis fell in love with a hunter, Orion. Apollo quickly grew jealous and lonesome, so he plotted to kill Orion. One day Orion was swimming far out in the sea and Apollo dared Artemis to shoot the “rock” in the middle of the sea. Artemis was a perfect shot like her brother and unknowingly killed her love. When she found out, she wept and turned Orion into a constellation. On another occasion he left his pregnant lover Coronis. However he suspected she might betray him so he sent a white raven to watch over her. She did indeed betray him, and Apollo killed her. He saved his son though and named him Asclepius. (God and Goddess)
Order and justice were Apollo’s chiefest desires. He highly dislike the chaos on earth and set up civic courts in multiple cities. He had a high moral sense of right and wrong and envisioned a world without corruption or bloodshed. He envisioned a utopia. (God and Goddess)
Like most other gods, Apollo had several symbols associated with him. A silver bow and arrow is of course related to him, symbolizing his royal birth and expertness in archery. The swan is also a symbol of his, most likely recognizing the calm healing power he had. The wolf however has the opposite meaning as it realizes the destructive power over disease Apollo has. Finally, gold is also one of Apollo’s symbols. This is most likely a symbol because of Apollo’s handsome features and youth-like features.
In today’s world there are many references to all of the Greek gods. Since this report is focused around Apollo we will concentrate our attention on his references. But looking at the various references on the Internet is a very enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon.
One such reference is quite obvious: The NASA Apollo Program. This program was the first space program to launch a man onto the moon. It was directed by President Kennedy and also spurred the coming of more space programs. Sadly, there are no clues as to why it was named the “Apollo” program, but it may have something to do with the letter “A” in Apollo, meaning first.
Apollo Valves is an American metal valve manufacturing company started in 1928. It is largely centered in the American continent. Since it’s creation it has been the top in the world for what it makes. It is such a fitting status for a company named after Apollo, the god who wished to be good at all he did.
Another modern reference to Apollo is much closer to home. It is the local Apollo Bistro. The Apollo Bistro offers massages, manicures, wedding catering, and meals. The reference to Apollo is quite obvious. Apollo was the god of healing and this place heals people through massages or physical improvement, not to mention eating.
The most important reference to Apollo however is the Hippocratic oath in which his name is called upon for witness. In fact it is one of the very first words of the oath that all doctors today take: “I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant.”
As one may see from this paper, the study of myths is highly intriguing. You can delve into fascinating and somewhat sketchy stories. You can make connections from the ancient to modern worlds. Mythology is indeed a wise and enjoyable choice of study.
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