From the beginning of Greek mythology Apollo was always considered the Sun god, but in later times he became the patron god of music, poetry, mathematics and medicine as well. He wanted his worshippers to look into their hearts and find the beginning of wisdom there. However when he was was young he did many cruel deeds which almost had him kicked out of the gods by Zeus. He was the most beautiful of the gods, with dark gold hair and stormy blue eyes. His tunic was of golden panther skin and he carried a golden bow and a quiver of gold arrows. Apollo's chariot was made from beaten gold and his horses were white with flame-colored eyes and gold manes.
A story is told how there was a Python who had been hunting his mother. Apollo wanted to protect his mother so when he was given his bow and arrows he raced down from Olympus so he could hunt the Python. He went to the Dryads who informed him that the Python was at Mount Parnassus. Apollo sped there and stood on a hill where he saw Python below. He shot at the serpent with an arrow and ran down the hill, but when he got there the Python had left. Following a trail of blood left by the Python he arrived at the Oracle of Mother Earth at Delphi. The Python was hiding in a cave and could not be followed, so Apollo breathed on the arrow heads and and shot them into the cave. When the arrows hit they burst into flame and smoke filled the cave. This caused the serpent to crawl out. Apollo waited on a rock outside the cave for his prey. When the Python emerged he shot so many arrows that the Python looked like a porcupine. He then skinned the snake and saved the hide.
The place where he slew the Python was a sacred place, because that was where the Oracles of Mother Earth lived. The oracles were priestesses who had been trained for this from infancy in their magic. They chewed laurel, built fires of magic herbs and sat in the smoke. They were thrown into trances in which they saw, and expressed in riddles, the future. Often the gods consulted them whenever they got into trouble and needed wisdom to figure out the best solution.
Apollo decided to make his action as big a possible. After all he had already violated a shine, so he claimed the oracles for himself, bidding a prophesy in his name. He promised to make amends when Mother Earth complained to Zeus about the murder of the Python. To celebrate his victory and help make amends he initiated annual games which he named after his enemy. So his games, the Pythian Games, were held at Delphi.
However despite his mischievous youth, Apollo preached moderation when he was older and more mature.
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.