A Little Background
Why is Isle so afraid of Apollo? Here's a little essay that should clear a few things up.
Edith Hamilton said that in the Greek god Apollo "Two ideas were fighting in him as in all the gods; a primitive, crude idea and one that was beautiful and poetic". Although a patron of music and the arts, Apollo was known to be both cruel and brutal, "an unforgiving god, a great lord over mortals and immortals". It is fitting, perhaps, that he wields the lyre and the bow with equal proficiency, symbolizing the balance of art and violence in his nature. One's immediate assumption would be that such a versatile god would be have his choice of paramours, but here, as in the myths themselves, such assumptions can be misleading. For such an artistic and intelligent deity, it is well-known that Apollo had abysmal luck when it came to romance. This, as it turns out, is largely his own fault. In the days when loving a god was considered dangerous, it is understandable why most young women would be hesitant to acquiesce to Apollo's wishes. This caution would have been doubled in the case of Apollo, whose lovers often met unpleasant and untimely ends.
Perhaps Apollo would not have been so widely feared if not for his reputation of callous
indifference towards the welfare of his lovers, both during and after the relationship. Of course, Apollo has also been said to be the god who epitomizes youthful masculinity -- in other words, adolescence. This may explain his childish fits of temper after being "betrayed" by the women he cared for (re: petty revenge, such as longevity without youth or outright murder). His deceptions were equally juvenile; if he feared he could not legitimately win the woman's affection, he would simply disguise himself in order to get close to her, then abduct and rape her. He would attempt to lure women into a relationship with promises of gifts and power, then become enraged when his "kindness" was taken advantage of by those afraid of what romance with an immortal might entail. Even his two undeniably caring relationships with Hyacinthus and Cyparissus ended badly, albeit through no fault of his own. When reviewing his relationships one cannot help but think of a socially-awkward teenager, desperate for a date and willing to go to any lengths to achieve it. Yet, in the end, his own awkwardness defeated him; no relationship born of deception and rape would last, often with tragic consequences for the hapless mortal. Apollo, it seems, was cursed in love no matter what approach he took, doomed from the start by the dual forces of fate and crippling immaturity. The following are brief summaries of Apollo's more "interesting" relationships.
The Romances of Apollo
Rejection and Unrequited Love
- Apollo's first love. Prayed to her father Peneus, a river-god, for an escape from the Apollo, and was turned into a laurel tree rather than submit to Apollo's love. She allowed Apollo to claim a wreath of her leaves as a symbol of art and intelligence.
- Daughter of King Phleyas, fell in love with Arcadian prince Ischys, shot by Artemis. Mother of Aesculapius, who was taken from Coronis' womb while she was laying on her funeral pyre.
- A girl from Delphi, threw herself into a pool of water that now bears her name rather than submit to his advances.
- Chose a mortal by the name of Idas over Apollo. Would have been killed had Zeus not intervened and directed Marpessa to make her own choice, much to the chagrin of the god of light.
- Chose to remain a virgin rather than marry Apollo or, for that matter, Poseidon, who was also vying for her affections.
- Nymph who loved Apollo so much she sat for nine days and nine nights watching him drive the chariot of the sun across the sky. He neither looked upon her nor spoke to her, and out of pity the gods turned her into a sunflower.
- Companion of hamadryads. Picked up Apollo (disguised as a tortoise), who then turned into a serpent to frighten away her companions. He raped and abandoned her.
- Virgin huntress and the daughter of a Thessalian king and water-nymph. Advised by the centaur Chiron to take her to wife, Apollo approached and then raped Cyrene in the form of a wolf before spiriting her away to Libya. Mother of Aristaeus, a pioneer in beekeeping and healing.
- A victim of a Hermes and Apollo tag-team, Hermes put her to sleep and made love to her. After Hermes was done with her, Apollo disguised himself as an old woman and did the same. Neither interfered when Artemis killed her for criticizing her beauty.
- After bearing Apollo a son, Acalle was driven into Libya by her father, where she exposed their son Miletus.
- Rhoeo was shut in a chest by her father and cast out to sea after falling pregnant with Apollo's son Anius. Luckily, she gave birth at Apollo's island (Delos), where their son became its king and priest.
- Was given the art of prophecy and an extended lifespan in exchange for her affections, a promise which she later renenged. Apollo allowed her to keep the gifts, but refrained from granting her eternal youth. May have lived as long as a thousand years.
- Was taught prophecy by Apollo, but rejected his advances. Was also allowed to keep her gift, but was cursed with the knowledge that whenever she spoke the truth, she would not be believed. After the Trojan War she was taken as concubine by Agamemnon, and later followed him in death at the hands of his wife.
- Spartan prince, killed by Apollo when the wind Zephyrus blew Apollo's discus off course. The hyacinth flower sprang from his blood.
- Accidentally killed his pet stag while hunting, and was so heartbroken Apollo consented to turn him into a cypress tree so that he might mourn his pet forever.
- Never Apollo's lover, but a Trojan prince Apollo cared for deeply. During the Trojan War, Apollo left Hector to his fate at the hands of Achilles.
Apollo's Divine Relationships
- Mother by way of Zeus. Apollo has defended her honor several times, usually to the dismay of the mortals who insulted her.
- Twin sister, goddess of the hunt, youth, and wild things.
- Father and king of the gods. Apollo occasionally acted as his enforcer.
- Half-brother by way of Zeus. Gave Apollo the lyre in exchange for stealing his sacred cattle, and swore eternal friendship with him.
- The Muses
- Apollo is known as the Musagetes, or leader of the muses. He may or may not have had children with some (if not all) of them.
Sea of Insanity Relationships
Note: Unlike the previous two categories, these relationships have no bearing on the actual mythology of the Greeks.
- The naiad Apollo must pursue in order to win a bet with Aphrodite, the prize being a century's worth of immunity to Eros' arrows. Once imbued by him with the gift of intelligence, Isle promptly rejected by him. Currently on rather bad terms due to a messy breakup Apollo refuses to accept.
- The muse of Epic Poetry who Apollo talked into helping Isle make a living as a writer by stimulating her creativity. He's on fairly good terms with her despite the fact that he apparently killed one of her lovers.
- Isle's roommate, who Apollo charged with taking care of the nymph as long as Finn remained in her home. Apollo has intimidated the hell out of him.
- Oread and long-time friend of Isle, who Apollo has convinced to keep an eye on his newest prospect. She was his initial choice for courtship, but she directed him towards Isle instead.
- A descendent of the creature Apollo slew at Delphi, given to Isle to "protect" her from harm and who listens only to true children of Zeus.
- Disapproving of Apollo's current habits, Artemis attends to her own business nowadays. As with most of their sisters, Artemis believes her brother is making a mistake in taking Aphrodite's bet, and has washed her hands of him for the time being.
- The Sibyl
- The newest in a long line of seers created by Apollo's moonstruck meddling. She doesn't seem to mind what she's seen of him, and so far has been the only mortal in the cast to see him in his "true" form.
- The reincarnation of Hector's slain son Astyanax/Scamandrius, who looks enough like his father to give Apollo the willies. Not on good terms, as the god did not make a good first impression.