Apollo’s mother, Leto, became pregnant by Zeus, which of course greatly infuriated Hera, although the myths tell us that Leto was already in the family way when Zeus and Hera tied the knot. Zeus was rather fond of Leto, while Hera was anything but. No surprise there. She threw a spectacular hissy fit and one can just imagine the glee with which this tale was told and retold by the ancients as the myths took shape; soap operas are nothing new. Husbands with a wandering eye, betrayed womenfolk, children born outside a formal relationship – these have been well understood from time immemorial, and are the endlessly fascinating stuff of stories in every genre.
It didn’t take Hera long to get rid of Leto. As I’ve already mentioned
(Apple SlapDash; Stormy Relationships) she wasn’t one to tolerate her husband’s straying under any circumstances, nor was she going to give lodging to Leto on Mt Olympus. Out! Leave! Banished! So Leto wandered about until Zeus had his fellow god, Boreas of the North Wind, carry Leto out over the sea until she wound up on Delos. Heavy with child, as they say, on this rocky island did the heart wrenching operatic saga continue. Fascinating stuff indeed, but my point is that Apollo was born here.
I guess today we’d call Apollo a Renaissance man as he was heavily involved in quite a few things, including music, medicine and minding other people’s business through his role as the god of prophecy in Delphi. His large portfolio included being god of the sun and light, duties performed by Helios in earlier versions of the myths, so one might say Apollo’s was a hostile takeover, although Helios continued to be known as god of the sun, alongside Apollo.
No question Apollo took his obligations as sun god very seriously for he never failed to drive his chariot of fire across the world to bring the light. From East to West in regular rhythm did he travel, and we chased him across the sky last week as we flew back to Texas from Greece.