Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. He is the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin brother of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all the gods. Apollo is the god who affords help and wards off evil; various epithets call him the “averter of evil”.
Apollo delivered people from epidemics, yet he is also a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague with his arrows. Apollo’s capacity to make youths grow is one of the best attested facets of his panhellenic cult persona.
Apollo is an important pastoral deity, and was the patron of herdsmen and shepherds. Protection of herds, flocks and crops from diseases, pests and predators were his primary duties. He is associated with dominion over colonists.
The lyre is a common attribute of Apollo. In Hellenistic times, Apollo Helios became identified among Greeks with Helios, the personification of the Sun. In Latin texts, there was no conflation of Apollo with Sol among the classical Latin poets until 1st century CE.
The name Apollo is generally not found in the Linear B (Mycenean Greek) texts, although there is a possible attestation in the lacunose form. It has also been suggested that the name might actually read “Hyperion”.
The etymology of the name is uncertain. It probably is a cognate to the Doric month Apellaios and the offerings apellaia at the initiation of the young men during the family-festival apellai.
The Greeks most often associated Apollo’s name with the Greek verb “to destroy”. Plato in Cratylus connects the name with apolysis, “redemption” and “purification”. Hesychius connects Apollo with the Doric term “assembly” so that Apollo would be the god of political life.
The Hittite form Apaliunas is attested in the Manapa-Tarhunta letter. The name of the Lydian god may reflect an earlier /kʷalyán-/ before palatalization, syncope, and the pre-Lydian sound change.
The cult centers of Apollo in Greece, Delphi and Delos date from the 8th century BCE. The Delos sanctuary was primarily dedicated to Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister. In Classical Greece he was the god of light and of music, but in popular religion he had a strong function to keep away evil.
Many temples were dedicated to Apollo in Greece and the Greek colonies. They show the spread of the cult of Apollo and the evolution of the Greek architecture. Some of the earliest temples, especially in Crete, do not belong to any Greek order.
Apollo sided with the Trojans during the Trojan War. During the war, the Greek king Agamemnon captured Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo’s priest Chryses. Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment.
Zeus devised a plan to humble them and improve their manners instead of destroying them. He cut them in two and asked Apollo to make necessary repairs, giving humans the individual shape they still have now.
Apollo demanded a lyre and invented the paean, thus becoming the god of music. As the divine singer, he is the patron of poets, singers and musicians. The invention of string music is attributed to him.