Who is Apollo?


#1

In one of my responses to another thread I have been challanged to collect incidents of ancient propaganda. In looking through this I have noticed something on the sideline that is very strange. I keep coming to references of Apollo and Apollion and the Devil’s image.

Was Christianity an offront to the ancient greeks/romans because it represents one of their major gods as an antagonist? Can Apollo be compared to Lucifer? What exactly is he the God of. He seems to be unique in that pantheon as not being the God of anything in particular. All the rest have a specific job. Hera=marriage. Hades= afterlife. Zeus=king of gods/thunder and power. Ares=war. Apollo seems to be associated with a whole lot of things… but what is he the god OF?

Does anyone have any insight into this?


#2

I don’t know about a correllation between Apollo and the devil’s image, or how early Christians may have portrayed any of the Greek gods, but here is what a very quick google search on the Greek god Apollo turned up on Apollo:
“Powers: Although often associated with the sun, Apollo is not really a sun god. Apollo is a god of healing, prophecy (oracles), the arts – especially music (Apollo taught Orpheus to play the lyre) – and archery. Apollo’s arrows could send plague, as happens in the Iliad Book I.”

Maybe you could cite some of the referrences that associate Apollo with the devil’s image??


#3

Actually, not only did he teach Orpheus music, he was Orpheus’ father(the mother was a mortal). And he did have something to do with the sun, but in this guise he is generally referred to as Phoebus or Phoebus Apollo. The only other thing I know about him is that he had a yen for mortal women; Daphne was transformed into a tree in order to escape his advances, and another nymph was so enamored of him that she was turned into a sunflower so that she could always gaze at him. I am not aware of any Satanic equation, however.


#4

Theoi.com is a great resource for information on most aspects of Greek mythology (theoi.com/Olympios/Apollon.html will take you to the Apollon pages). This site aims to gather together all the relevant quotes (as well as a complrehensive library of images) from the ancient Greek sources, along with analysis and historical information.

Note that this site restricts itself, as best as I can tell, to Classical writings, and so will not include the Christian material on devils that the OP asked about.


#5

Christianity affronted the sensibilities of pagans because it offered clear guidelines on right and wrong. Pagans could believe in a set of gods, and if their neighbours believed in a different set of gods, it mattered not.


#6

I think perhaps you might have come into contact with some modern writers who are making their own connections between Satan and Apollo that have nothing to do with history. Apollo was supposed to drive the sun through the sky and be beautiful, Satan was supposed to be the most beautiful angel. Modern people sometimes see connections where there aren’t any simply because we have the advantage of being able to look backwards.


#7

Actually it was usually Helios who drove the sun chariot through the sky, though he is at times seen as equivalent to Apollo.

** Modern people sometimes see connections where there aren’t any simply because we have the advantage of being able to look backwards.**

Well said.


#8

Christianity was seen in part as a threat to the security and existence of the state because Christians refused to pariticipate in the sacred rites for the Gods of the state. Jews were also a difficulty in this way, but seem to have gotten a “pass” if you will because theirs was an ancient tribal religion. When Christianity began becoming something other than simply a Jewish sect by actively attempting to convert non-Jews, it became a threat to the stability and existence of the Empire.

The Classical world had no shortage of philosophers to offer clear guidelines of right and wrong. Ethical behavior was the province of philosophy, not religion. Unity of belief was not a goal of Greek or Roman religion–they were religions of orthopraxy (right action), not orthodoxy (right belief).

Those interested in the subject of how Romans viewed the early Church should read Robert Wilken’s book, “The Christians As the Romans Saw Them.” Very interesting read. He uses the writings of Romans contemporary to the early Church to show how the larger society viewed this new religion.


#9

Apollion is the angel of the bottomless pit (Rev 9:11); the name is a Greek form of Abaddon, the Hebrew word for Destroyer. He is the king of the locusts.

He doesn’t have anything in common with the Greek god Apollo that I’m aware of.


#10

This very well might be the case… It looks like others already summed up the connections I was seeing- the references to Revelation 9:11 side-by-side with information on Apollo. And what you said here is a paraphrase of other things I saw. None of them would I consider a good source, so I was hoping to find better ones.

Thank you everyone! Any more information is welcomed, And I am liking the theoi.com site someone suggested!


#11

It should be added that although Apollo is listed as a Roman as well as a Greek god, he wasn’t the Roman sun god. The Roman sun god was Mars.

Actually, in its original form, Roman religion had next to nothing in commmon with Greek, except the sexes of most of the gods. The Romans, who had a big inferiority complex to the Greeks despite being better at everything (rather like the Japanese and Koreans do to China today), adopted whole swaths of Greek myth, because their own gods were a lot less earthy and humanlike. Or in other words, their own gods were a lot more godlike.

Apollo is also the god of the arts, and the master of the nine muses. His favorite is Terpsichore, the muse of dance (usually portrayed as a little girl), because he has a soft spot for little girls.

Actually, for a Greek god, Apollo’s practically chaste. I don’t believe there was ever any overtly sexual aspect to most of his cults, which is dang rare for a Greek god. There was the cult of Apollo Lykaon though, which worshiped him in the form of a wolf and were purported to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism. Some sources say, though, that they ate pork or mutton that symbolized human flesh.

Still, I live in Arizona, so nobody who runs around in a wolf-skin is okay by me. Round here, we call that a skinwalker.


#12

Jews were also a difficulty in this way, but seem to have gotten a “pass” if you will because theirs was an ancient tribal religion.

Um, actually no, they did not. If you read Maccabees you will see that not only did the Hellenistic rulers of the time (300 BC-100 BC) profane the temple, but that many Jewish people were killed because they protested the “hellinization” of Judaism.

The miracle of Hanukkah was that while the temple was being ritually cleansed after the defilement of the Greeks, the oil which should have only lasted for 1 day lasted for the 8 days necessary for purification.

Now the Romans at the time of Christ were Hellenized Romans and they went about their occupation a little differently. They didn’t attempt to ‘defile the temple’ outright. They appointed a “jew” (the first Herod) who was sympathetic to Roman culture and opted for the less spectacular long range plan of acculturation from ‘inside’.

But the Jewish people certainly did not ‘get a pass’. They were for the time a very small group in a very large empire; they had proven themselves surprisingly strong and resilient over time yet also capable of great ‘assimilation’ when done from the inside out (baal et. al). And to make a further point, even after the split that came when Christianity came forth from Judaism, Christians were persecuted true. . .but what happened to the Jewish people? Ever hear of Masada? The destruction of the Temple that Jesus had foretold “within this generation” took place.

No, they didn’t ‘get a pass at all’. Not at all.


#13

I’m sorry, I wrote in haste and should clarify. By “get a pass,” I did not mean that the Jews received a welcome with open arms, that they were considered equal to Romans, or that they did not suffer under Roman rule. In fact, the Jewish religion was considered as much a supertition as the Christian, but at least the Jews were following the traditions of their fathers and their tribe. They had a lineage.

Romans were very conservative religiously and put great emphasis on following the traditions of one’s ancestors. Christians were not only not following the traditions of their (Jewish) fathers and tribe, they were actively working to convert Romans away from properly worshipping the Gods of their ancestors, something which threatened the very survival of the Empire and which the Jews did not do.


#14

Was Christianity an offront to the ancient greeks/romans because it represents one of their major gods as an antagonist? Can Apollo be compared to Lucifer?

Christianity was an offshoot of Jewdaism.

Apollo was also one of Paul’s disciples :thumbsup:


#15

I don’t deny this. I did note that Christians stuck to their guns over ‘the truth’. Romans couldn’t understand this.

The problem for Greek/Roman philosophy of ideas of right or wrong was that they weren’t really absolutes. There was no real concept of ‘person’ as we now understand it. In their myths, the gods themeselves were arbitrary in their dishing out of punishments; such as say in the Trojan Wars where gods helped both sides, depending on who was their favourite.

Their idea of the gods was that they had come about after the universe, and were therefore not above it; in fact their gods could die, or be transformed into something else. The Christian notion of God is that God is perfect and needs no satisfaction (Catholics may argue against this).


#16

** There was no real concept of ‘person’ as we now understand it.**

Could you expand on this? I am not really sure I understand what you mean.

In their myths, the gods themeselves were arbitrary in their dishing out of punishments; such as say in the Trojan Wars where gods helped both sides, depending on who was their favourite.

Doing things like cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season? Demanding that one’s follower bring his son up on a mountain to be a burnt sacrifice and then saying, no, I didn’t really mean it? Sending a bear to maul 42 children for calling one’s prophet “Baldy?” Cursing with disease the king who married the wife of the chosen founder of one’s religion and all the king’s household, even though the founder presented his wife as his sister and accepted an enormous payment for her marriage to the king, and said he did it so the king would treat him well? Then strike barren every woman in an entire nation and threaten to destroy it when one’s chosen follower does it again? Kill the children, take all the possessions of and strike with horrible disease a faithful follower just to win a bet?

Yes, deeper meanings can be found in all these stories. They can be found in our stories, too.

** The Christian notion of God is that God is perfect and needs no satisfaction (Catholics may argue against this).**

How does “needs no satisfaction” square with the basic Christian teaching that God required Himself to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save from His damnation creatures that He Himself formed entirely from a situation He Himself created and knew, even before He made them or the situation, the end result of both?


#17

[quote=Montalban]There was no real concept of ‘person’ as we now understand it.
[/quote]

"Aristotelian philosophy with its emphasis on the concrete and the individual, offers the basis of a certain concept of person, but the inability of this philosophy to provide permanence, some kind of continuity and “eternal life”, for the total psychosomatic entity of man renders impossible the union of the person with the “substance” of man, that is, with a true ontology. In Platonic thought the person is a concept which is ontologically impossible, because the soul, which ensures man’s continuity, is not united permanently with the concrete, “individual” man: it lives eternally but it can be united with another concrete body and can constitute another “individuality”, e.g. by reincarnation. With Aristotle, on the other hand, the person proves to be a logically impossible concept precisely because the soul is indissolubly united with the concrete and “individual”: a man is a concrete individuality; he endures, however, only for as long as his psychosomatic union endures - death dissolves the concrete “individuality” completely and definitive

Ancient Greek thought remained tied to the basic principle which it had set itself, the principle that being constitutes in the final analysis a unity in spite of the multiplicity of existent things because concrete existent things finally trace their being back to their necessary relationship and “kinship” with the “one” being, and because consequently every “differentiation” or “accidence” must be somehow regarded as a tendency towards “non-being,” a deterioration of a “fall” from being."
Zizioulas, J. D., (1985) “Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church”, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press; Crestwood, NY), p28/29.

[quote=Montalban]In their myths, the gods themselves were arbitrary in their dishing out of punishments; such as say in the Trojan Wars where gods helped both sides, depending on who was their favourite.

[quote=KarenNC]Doing things like cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season? Demanding that one’s follower bring his son up on a mountain to be a burnt sacrifice and then saying, no, I didn’t really mean it? Sending a bear to maul 42 children for calling one’s prophet “Baldy?” Cursing with disease the king who married the wife of the chosen founder of one’s religion and all the king’s household, even though the founder presented his wife as his sister and accepted an enormous payment for her marriage to the king, and said he did it so the king would treat him well? Then strike barren every woman in an entire nation and threaten to destroy it when one’s chosen follower does it again? Kill the children, take all the possessions of and strike with horrible disease a faithful follower just to win a bet?

Yes, deeper meanings can be found in all these stories. They can be found in our stories, too.
[/quote]

That would of course depend on whether you believe that these are literal matters. And even if they were, then your best defence, so it seems, is that if you believe in something wrong, and we do something the same, that’s okay.

Or, are you saying that the Greek gods didn’t do these things?

[quote=Montalban]The Christian notion of God is that God is perfect and needs no satisfaction (Catholics may argue against this).
[/quote]

[quote=KarenNC]How does “needs no satisfaction” square with the basic Christian teaching that God required Himself to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save from His damnation creatures that He Himself formed entirely from a situation He Himself created and knew, even before He made them or the situation, the end result of both?
[/quote]

It doesn’t. I don’t believe it. That’s why I said “Catholics may argue against this”. They believe in Satisfaction. Orthodox do not. If you want me to defend someone else’s beliefs, let me know, but I don’t feel that I should have to.
[/quote]


#18

"Aristotelian philosophy …

Thanks.

** That would of course depend on whether you believe that these are literal matters. And even if they were, then your best defence, so it seems, is that if you believe in something wrong, and we do something the same, that’s okay. Or, are you saying that the Greek gods didn’t do these things?**

I don’t believe that either set of stories is literally true or that they were ever meant to be understood solely in that way.

My point was that the stories about the Christian God show that He is no less arbitrary, especially if one reads them only in the literal or surface manner. If one is willing to read the Jewish and Christian stories as having meaning other than in a literal sense, one should be willing to expect that other cultures and religions may apply those same standards to their own sacred stories.

It is not dissimilar to those who accuse non-Christians of worshipping objects for praying to a statue of one of their Gods or before a tree or other natural object while they themselves pray the rosary, use icons, statues or other representations as a focus for meditation and prayer, or believe in either transubstantion or consubstantiation. They are not willing to understand that non-Christians had and have just as much ability to understand these nuances as they do.

My continuing argument is that no sacred stories are meant to be understood in this manner, neither Christian nor Greek nor anything else. The sacred stories exist and perservere because they have deeper meanings and speak to individuals about how to be fully human in the context of that culture and how to relate to that which is beyond current human understanding.

The Greek Gods are also not believed to be omniscient, omnipresent or omnibenevolent. The behavior of the Gods was not a standard for humanity to follow. For the Greeks, there was no concept of imitatio dei, in fact the opposite. To consider that one could be like the Gods was hubris, and done only to one’s detriment. The Gods are the Gods, humans are human. Sometimes our spheres of concern intersect.

**It doesn’t. I don’t believe it. That’s why I said “Catholics may argue against this”. They believe in Satisfaction. Orthodox do not. **

Fair enough. I had not either realized or remembered that you were Orthodox, nor am I familiar enough with Orthodox theology to know all the points of difference. It is a faith with which I have had little contact.


#19

[quote=KarenNC]"Aristotelian philosophy …

Thanks.
[/quote]

No problemo. I apologise for the late reply now, because I’d not noticed you had added to this thread.

Does this mean that they happened at all? The gods even acted that way towards one another. Prometheus is permanently punished for giving man fire.

[quote=KarenNC] The Greek Gods are also not believed to be omniscient, omnipresent or omnibenevolent. The behavior of the Gods was not a standard for humanity to follow. For the Greeks, there was no concept of imitatio dei, in fact the opposite. To consider that one could be like the Gods was hubris, and done only to one’s detriment. The Gods are the Gods, humans are human. Sometimes our spheres of concern intersect.
[/quote]

They can’t have been Omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. For they came into being after the universe, and some were killed by other gods.

We don’t believe in God requiring ‘satisfaction’ for sins, etc.


#20

I don’t know if the reference to “Apollyon” in Revelation is meant as a reference to Apollo or not. “Apolluon” means “destroyer” and translates the Hebrew “Abaddon,” which is given as the proper name of the demonic being in question. At least one etymology in my Greek lexicon traces Apollo’s name to the same root, linking him to the destructive (as well as nourishing) effects of the sun. Did the author of Revelation know about this etymology? Was he simply making a polemical pun? Or is the similarity entirely accidental? I’m inclined toward the second of these possibilities.

The only other reference to Apollo I can think of in the NT is Acts 16:16, which refers to a girl possessed by a “Pythian spirit” (usually translated as a spirit of divination or fortune-telling or something like that). “Pythian” of course is one of the titles of Apollo, referring to his slaying of the Pythian serpent and linking him to chthonic (earth-related) powers of prophecy, particularly with reference to the Oracle at Delphi. Certainly the NT is implying that the spirit that possessed the young woman at Philippi was an evil demon.

Given the link with prophecy (which would look like demonic fortune-telling to Christians), the serpent connection (granted that he killed the serpent), and Apollo’s role as bringer of disease (as well as healer), it certainly makes sense that early Christians would focus on Apollo as a demonic figure, though this is how they saw all the pagan gods. Early Christianity focused heavily on exorcism and healing, so Apollo would be seen as an opponent (as a possessing spirit and a bringer of disease) as well as a competitor (in prophecy and healing).

Edwin


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