views updated May 14 2018


APOLLO , the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin brother of Artemis, is the Greek god whom the European tradition already associated with the aesthetic splendor and brilliance of Greece before Johann Jakob Winckelmann (17171768), the founder of Greek art history, regarded the Belvedere Apollo (a Roman copy of a fourth-century Greek original that shows Apollo as a youthful archer) as the most perfect embodiment of Greek aesthetics and Greek gods. Apollo's image as a beautiful and permanently young man significantly contributed to this modern evaluation, as did Apollo's identification with the sun. His darker sides, expressed through his deathly mastery of archery, were eclipsed in this modern reception. In Greek myth, Apollo is the favorite son of Zeus but has relatively few independent stories; he is connected either with young men and women, or with specific sanctuaries such as Delos or Delphi. In Greek religion, Apollo was the protector of young males and presided over divination, healing, and the complex of music and dance (Greek, molpē ), whereas Etruscan and Roman religion embraced him almost exclusively as a healer.

The Etymology of Apollo

Almost uniquely among the twelve Olympian gods, Apollo's name does not appear in the Mycenaean Bronze Age texts; these texts only preserve a god called Paiawon, presumably an early form of Apollo's later epithet "Paian." In Homer and Hesiod, however (that is, in the late eighth or early seventh centuries bce), Apollo's mythical and religious roles are firmly established, presumably developing and spreading during the intervening Dark Ages of the eleventh through the ninth centuries bce.

Among the many competing modern etymologies of his name, the derivation from the Doric apella, "association of the free male citizen" (Burkert, 1975, pp. 112), has found the most adherence; the marginality of the Dorians in the Greek Bronze Age and their immigration into most of Southern Greecefrom the Peloponnese to the islands of Crete and Rhodesexplains Apollo's absence in the Bronze Age, as well as his position in the early Iron Age and his function as the protector of the young warriors and their institutions based on common song and dance. That the month Apellaios is the first month in Delphi points to a connection between the New Year's festival, citizens' associations, and the introduction of the young warriors into society through their display of song and dance; it is, however, impossible to derive all functions of Apollo from this or any other homogeneous ritual complex.

Apollo in Delous and Delphi

In early Greek poetry, Apollo's mythical and cultic personality is fully established. Born on the island of Delos (Homeric Hymn to Apollo, 25178 [seventh century bce]) against the will of Hera, Apollo's birth founds and legitimates the great renown of the Delian sanctuarythe central sanctuary for the cities of archaic Ioniaand a sacred island for all of Greece in later times (see Callimachus, Hymn 4). Apollo's main monument on the island was an altar made from the horns of sacrificial goats. The monument stood next to the palm tree that lent support to Leto when giving birth (Odyssey 6,162163). (Such altars are attested to in other Apolline sanctuaries as well.) His birthday, on the seventh day of an unstated month (Hesiod, Works and Days 771), was the day most festivals of Apollo were heldthe seventh day of a given monthyet they could also fall on the first day of a month (Apollo Noumēnios, "He of the New Moon").

Apollo's first youthful exploit is the killing of the snake Pytho and the foundation of his other main sanctuary, the oracular shrine of Delphi (Homeric Hymn to Apollo, vs. 214544; Iliad 9.404405), by far the most important oracular shrine in archaic and classical Greece. In order to punish the sacrilegious arrogance of the Greek leaders in Troy, Apollo sends a plague into their camp (Iliad 1.4452); the plague is then healed through a sumptuous sacrifice, purificatory rites, and the singing and dancing of a paean by the "young men of the Achaeans" (Iliad 1.313474). Apollo had caused the plague by shooting animals and men with his arrows, and thus his archery is an image for the deadly power of the illness. Much later, an image of the archer Apollo, erected in a city gate, was thought to avert disease and evil from the city. His arrows were believed to send swift and unexpected death to men in the same way that Artemis's arrows could kill women. Yet Apollo is also considered the patron god of real archers.

One of Apollo's other attributes is his playing of the lyre. The Homeric Hymn to Hermes (sixth century bce) narrates how Hermes made the first lyre out of the shell of a tortoise and gave it to his older brother Apollo. The same Hymn makes it clear that divination, to know the "mind of Zeus," is Apollo's prerogative alone (vs. 471472).

Most Panhellenic sanctuaries of Apollo were major oracular shrines (Delos is the one exception). Alongside Delphi, the sanctuaries in Didyma near Miletus and Clarus near Colophon in Western Asia Minor were already important in archaic Greece; they remained famous to the end of pagan antiquity. The Greco-Egyptian Magical Papyri refer to Clarian and Pythian Apollo as conferring private oracular dreams (Papyri Graecae Magicse II .130, fourth century ce), and the Tübingen Theosophy, a sixth century Christian treatise, still cites Clarian oracles to support the thesis of a pagan preknowledge of Christian theology. The ritual forms of divination differed from sanctuary to sanctuary, although they all had a medium prophesy in an altered state of consciousness; in Clarus and Didyma, the water of a sacred spring provoked ecstasy in a priest (Clarus) or priestess (Didyma), whereas in later sources the Delphian Pythia was said to prophesy under the influence of mephitic gases. Apollo also attracted noninstitutionalized divination: both the sibyl and the Trojan seer Cassandra were said to be his lovers.

Apollo's Cultic Roles

The cults in individual cities stress other aspects of Apollo, especially his connection with young men (ephebes) and male citizens on the one hand, and with his power for healing on the other.

Apollo the Healer (Iētros, Oulios ) is mainly attested to in the Greek East from the sixth to the fourth centuries bce. Slowly, however, this function was taken over by Apollo's son Asclepius, with whom he shared many important healing sanctuariessuch as Epidaurus or Kos. Although official documents from these sanctuaries stress the coexistence of both deities, private worship focused solely on Asclepius. Asclepian healing focuses on incubation and dream oracles. It can be seen as specialized form of Apolline divination, and Apollo himself could be called iatromantis, the "healing seer," and had close ties to the mythical seer and healer Melampus. As a healer, Apollo had already been adopted by the Etruscans and Romans prior to the fifth century bce. Apollo Medicus (Healer) was introduced in Rome to heal a plague in 431 bce (Livy 4.25.3). The sanctuary survived the introduction of the Greek Asculapius in 293 bce and was restored under Augustus.

More generally, Apollo was seen as a divinity that kept away evil (averter, apotropaios ). Together with his sister Artemis, he guarded the city gates, and in a crisis, an image of the archer Apollo could defend a city against disease. Private houses were protected by simple stone pillars that were taken as Apolline symbols (agyieus ). In the cities of the Greek East and in Athens, the Apolline festival Thargelia was a festival of purification. The Athenians celebrated it on Thargelion 6 and 7 (the penultimate month of the year), and, as in some Ionian cities, they performed among other rites a scapegoat ritual (pharmakos ) in order to cleanse the city before the period of reversal that leads to the Athenian New Year.

But at least as important as these functions is Apollo's connection with the young men of the city, connections already visible in the derivation of his name from apella and so fundamental as to shape Apollo's iconography as an eternally young man (ephebe), complete with an ephebe's long hair and adolescent body. The Spartans performed several Apolline festivals in which the young men were central: the Gymnopaidia (Naked dances), which had their ritual center in the singing and dancing of young male choruses; the Karneiathe main festival of many Doric citieswere entirely organized by the young citizens; and the Hyacinthiathe main Spartan festivalfeatured as its etiological myth the story of how Apollo killed his adolescent lover Hyacinthus with the mistaken throw of a discus. Although the ritual combined grief for Hyacinthus with dance performances of boys and young men, the iconography of Apollo turned him into an archaic warrior who was depicted with shield and lance.

Yet the complex of dancing and singing of all-male groupscalled molpē by the Greeksis in archaic Greece noted well beyond the world of the Doric cities. Apollo enters this complex there as well. Perhaps the most prominent group in which Apollo figures is with the molpoi of archaic Miletusan aristocratic cult group whose leader was, at the same time, the supreme official of the city. These Milesian molpoi were associated with the cult of Apollo Delphinios and, to some degree, with oracular Apollo in Didyma. When the Milesians founded their colony of Olbia in the Black Sea, they introduced the same institution, and it is in institutions like thesewith a common meal as well as common dancing and singingthat musical Apollo finds his origin and social relevance.

Among the later developments of Apollo's image, two have to be singled out: his identification with the sun, and the opposition between Apollo and Dionysos. The identification with the sun and with Helios is first attested in the early fifth century bce but becomes important only much later, especially in astrology where Apollo represented the "planet" sun and his sister Artemis the "planet" moon; astrological iconography transmits this into the European Middle Ages, whereas Apollo as sun is common in mythical allegories both in late antiquity and in the European Renaissance and Baroque epochs.

The opposition between Apollo and Dionysus has its cultic root in Delphi where Dionysus reigned during Apollo's absence in winter, and where Dionysos was even said to have his grave. The opposition gained sharper contours when Augustus (63 bce14 ce) presented himself and his personal god Apollo to his antagonist Marc Anthony (8230 bce), who stylized himself as the New Dionysus. Whereas Dionysus stood for all the decadent pleasures of the East, Apollo represented the purity and clarity of the order that Augustus restored and put under the patronage of an Apollo whose temple had become part of his house on the Palatine. Another point of view, from the early nineteenth century, describes how musical history made use of the same opposition in which Dionysus represented ecstatic music whereas Apollo represented serene, well-ordered tunes. From musical theory Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900) would develop the opposition between the two gods as the basic feature of Greek tragedy.

See Also

Artemis; Delphi; Dionysos; Divination, article on Greek and Roman Divination; Hera; Hesiod; Homer; Muses; Oracles; Pythagoras; Sun.


Most of the ancient texts cited above are available in critical editions with English translations in the Loeb Classical Library.

Bentz, Martin, and Dieter Steinbauer. "Neues zum Aplu-Kult in Etrurien." Archäologischer Anzeiger (2001): 6978.

Boyancé, Pierre. "L'Apollon solaire." In Mélanges d'archéologie, d'épigraphie et d'histoire offerts à Jean Carcopino. pp. 149170. Paris, 1966.

Burkert, Walter. "Apellai und Apollon." Rheinisches Museum 118 (1975): 121.

Detienne, Marcel. Apollon le couteau à la main: Une approche expérimentale du polythéisme grec. Paris, 1998.

Dumézil, Georges. "Apollo Medicus." In Apollon sonore et autres essais:Vingt-cinq esquisses de mythologie, pp. 3642. Paris, 1982.

Fontenrose, Joseph. The Delphic Oracle: Its Responses and Operations. Berkeley, Calif., 1978.

Fontenrose, Joseph. Didyma: Apollo's Oracle, Cult, and Companions. Berkeley, Calif., 1988.

Gagé, Jean. Apollon Romain: Essai sur le culte d'Apollon et le dévelopement du "ritus graecus" à Rome des origines à Auguste. Paris, 1955.

Pettersson, Michael. Cults of Apollo at Sparta: The Hyakinthia, the Gymnopaidia and the Karneia. Stockholm, 1992.

Solomon, Joe, ed. Apollo: Origins and Influences. Tucson, Ariz., 1994.

von Reibnitz, Barbara. "ApollinischDionysisch." In Ästhetische Grundbegriffe, vol. 1, pp. 246271. Stuttgart, Germany, 2000.

Zeitlin, Froma I. "Apollo and Dionysos: Starting from Birth." In Kykeon: Studies in Honour of H. S. Versnel, edited by H. F. J. Horstmanshoff, et al. pp. 193218. Leiden, Netherlands, 2002.

Fritz Graf (2005)


views updated May 21 2018


Project Apollo followed Projects Mercury and Gemini as the final phase in meeting President John F. Kennedy's ambitious aim, which was stated in a speech on May 25, 1961: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." This was at the height of the Cold War, and the United States was behind in the space race with the Soviet Union. Forty-three days before the speech, the Soviet Union had put the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin, who made one orbit of Earth in a 108-minute trip.

Flight Mode

One of the key technological decisions of the early Apollo program was the flight mode used to travel to the Moon and back. Early plans focused on direct ascent (DA) and Earth-orbit rendezvous (EOR). In DA a single vehicle would launch from Earth, travel to the Moon, land, take off again, and return to Earth. This mode had the advantage of simplicity but the disadvantage of requiring an enormous and expensive vehicle that could carry the fuel needed to make a soft landing on the Moon and relaunch from the lunar surface. As an alternative, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rocket scientist Wernher von Braun advocated EOR, which involved separate launchingstwo or moreof a propulsion stage and a piloted spacecraft into Earth orbit for assembly in orbit. The assembled vehicle would travel to the Moon, land, take off, and travel back to Earth. An advantage of EOR was that smaller rockets could be used to lift components and fuel into Earth orbit. It also would have provided the beginnings of a space station , which would be useful as part of a long-term strategy of exploration of space beyond the Moon. The United States was in a race, however, and the EOR process was inherently slow, given the multiple launches. It had the additional disadvantage of component parts that had to be brought together and assembled in space, a feat that had never been done before.

A third possible mode, lunar-orbit rendezvous (LOR), was championed by NASA engineer John Houbolt, but initially dismissed by most planners because it seemed even riskier. Failure would strand astronauts in orbit around the Moon. Perceived safety issues aside, however, LOR was an elegant solution because unneeded pieces of the spacecraft would be discarded along the way, reducing mass and fuel needs. A small, specially designed vehicle could make the descent to and launch from the lunar surface and rejoin a mother ship in lunar orbit for the trip back to Earth. Houbolt argued that LOR was even safer than EOR because the mass of the lander would be much smaller and there were no atmosphere or weather concerns in lunar orbit. The matter was effectively settled in June 1961, when von Braun recognized that LOR offered "the highest confidence factor of successful accomplishment within this decade." Lunar-orbit rendezvous was selected as the flight mode in early 1962.

Apollo Crews, Rockets, and Spacecraft

Apollo missions consisted of crews of three astronauts. Earth-orbiting Apollo missions were launched by Saturn 1B rockets, and the lunar missions were launched with the larger Saturn V rocket. Launches were made from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The third and final stage of the Saturn V, the S-IVB, was jettisoned after propelling the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and toward the Moon. The Apollo spacecraft had three sections: the Command Module (CM), the Service Module (SM), and the Lunar Module (LM). The CM served as the crew's quarters as well as flight control. The SM contained propulsion and support systems. For most of the Earth-Moon trip, the CM and SM were linked and designated the Command-Service Module (CSM). After achieving lunar orbit, two crew members (the LM pilot and the commander) entered the LM, which transported them to the lunar surface and back and provided habitat and support while they were on the surface. The third crew member (the CM pilot) remained in the CSM, orbiting the Moon. When the LM launched from the Moon, it left behind its descent stage, which consisted of rockets and supports for a soft landing on the Moon. The ascent stage, essentially the crew cabin with small rockets, rejoined the CSM in lunar orbit (rendezvous). After the crew reentered the CSM, the LM was jettisoned to crash onto the Moon. The CSM made the return trip to Earth. Before entering Earth's atmosphere, the SM was also jettisoned. The CM with its occupants parachuted into the ocean to be retrieved by the U.S. Navy.

Before July 1969

The first launch of the Apollo program was designated AS-201 ("AS" standing for "Apollo-Saturn"), an unpiloted, suborbital flight of the Saturn booster on February 26, 1966. Unpiloted AS-203 followed on July 5 and AS-202 on August 25. AS-204 was scheduled to be the first piloted Apollo flight. During a preflight test on January 27, 1967, a fire broke out in the CM, killing astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee. The fire resulted from a short in an electrical panel that ignited flammable materials in the 100-percent-oxygen atmosphere. NASA renamed the scheduled mission Apollo 1 and redesigned the CM. There were no flight missions designated Apollos 2 and 3. Apollo 4, an unpiloted mission launched on November 9, 1967, was the first flight involving all three stages of the Saturn V rocket. On January 22, 1968, the engines of the LM were test-fired in Earth orbit on the unpiloted Apollo 5. Apollo 6, launched on April 4, was another unpiloted test of the Saturn V and the first Apollo mission to carry a camera pointed toward Earth.

The first Apollo mission to take humans into space was Apollo 7, which launched on October 11, 1968. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham tested the functionality and livability of the CSM for more than ten days while they orbited Earth 163 times. Although the LM was not flown on the mission, the astronauts assessed the capability of the CSM to rendezvous with the LM by separating from and reapproaching an orbiting S-IVB. Apollo 8, the first mission to bring humans to the vicinity of the Moon, was launched two months later on December 21. Astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders made ten orbits of the Moon and photographed prospective landing sites. They also provided some of the most memorable photos of Earth from space, including the famous photo of Earth rising over the lunar horizon.* Apollo 8 astronauts provided live television broadcasts of their activities and views from space. Their reading from the Bible's Book of Genesison Christmas Eve while in orbit around the Moon was heard by millions of people around the world.

Apollo 9 was launched on March 3, 1969, and orbited Earth for ten days with astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart. The mission was the first flight of an entire Apollo lunar payload and the first test of undocking and docking of the LM and CSM in space. Schweickart left the LM for a thirty-seven-minute extravehicular activity (EVA). In a dress rehearsal for the lunar landing, astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, John W. Young, and Thomas P. Stafford took Apollo 10 to the Moon and back on a mission lasting from May 18 to May 26, 1969. They tested LM-CSM undocking and docking and LM navigation in lunar orbit by taking the LM to within 14 kilometers (9 miles) of the lunar surface.

July 1969 and After

Apollo 11 was launched on July 16, 1969, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. The LM Eagle made history by safely landing on the Moon's Mare Tranquillitatis four days later. Armstrong and Aldrin spent twenty-two hours on the lunar surface during which they did one EVA of two and a half hours, took photographs, and collected 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds) of rock and soil samples from around the LM.

Apollo 12 was launched four months later with crew members Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr., Richard F. Gordon Jr., and Alan L. Bean. On November 19, in one of the most impressive technical achievements of the cold war era, Conrad landed the LM Intrepid within walking distance, about 160 meters (525 feet), of the unpiloted Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had landed in Oceanus Procellarum two and a half years earlier. In two EVAs of almost eight hours, and totaling about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mile) of walking, Conrad and Bean deployed a package of surface experiments, retrieved parts from Surveyor 3, and collected 34 kilograms (75 pounds) of samples.

Apollo 13 (April 11-17, 1970), carrying Lovell (who had previously flown on Apollo 8), John L. Swigert Jr., and Fred W. Haise Jr., was intended to be the third lunar landing. About fifty-six hours into the mission and most of the way to the Moon, one of the two oxygen tanks exploded, causing the other one to also fail. The normal supply of electricity, light, and water to the CM was gone, with the craft about 300,000 kilometers (200,000 miles) from Earth. The lunar landing was aborted. Relying on power and oxygen from the LM, advice from Earth-based support experts, and their own ingenuity and stamina, the crew returned to Earth safely.

The near-tragedy delayed the program almost a year, but Apollo 14 was launched on January 31, 1971, with astronauts Alan Shepard (Mercury 3), Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar D. Mitchell. In two EVAs totaling nearly nine and a half hours, Shepard and Mitchell deployed various instruments, walked about 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles), and collected 42 kilograms (92.5 pounds) of samples from the Fra Mauro Formation, a deposit of ejecta from the Imbrium basin. The astronauts used a hand cart to transport tools and samples.

Apollo 15 (July 26 to August 7, 1971) brought Scott (Apollo 9) and James B. Irwin to the edge of Mare Imbrium at the base of the Apennine Mountains. The mission was the first to carry and deploy the lunar roving vehicle (LRV), a 210-kilogram (460-pound) electric car with four-wheel drive. The rover allowed the astronauts to travel much farther, 28 kilometers (17 miles), and collect more samples than on previous missions. In three EVAs the astronauts deployed scientific experiments and collected 77 kilograms (170 pounds) of samples. From orbit, CM pilot Alfred M. Worden operated spectrometers to detect X rays and gamma rays emitted from the Moon and a laser altimeter to measure topography.

Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972) went to the Central Highlands. Astronauts Young (Apollo 10) and Charles M. Duke Jr. used a second LRV to traverse 27 kilometers (17 miles) and collect 96 kilograms (212 pounds) of samples in three EVAs totaling twenty hours. In the CM, Thomas K. Mattingly II photographed the Moon and took measurements with various instruments.

Apollo 17 was launched on December 7, 1972. The crew consisted of Cernan (Apollo 10), Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt, who was a geologist and the first scientist-astronaut. On three EVAs totaling twenty-two hours, Cernan and Schmitt used the LRV to traverse 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in the Taurus-Littrow Valley of Mare Serenitatis and collect 110.5 kilograms (244 pounds) of samples. On December 13, 1972, Cernan climbed into the LM for the return trip, becoming the last person on the Moon. The political and technical ends achieved, the program, which cost about $20 billion, ran into budgetary reality.

After the lunar landings, Apollo spacecraft and crews were used in Earth orbit for three missions to the Skylab space station in 1973 and 1974 and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975 (Apollo 18). In total, there were nine crewed missions to the Moon, each with three astronauts. Three astronauts (Lovell, Young, and Cernan) made the trip twice, so twenty-four humans made the trip to the Moon and back. Twelve of those astronauts landed and worked on the surface of the Moon.

see also Apollo 1 Crew (volume 3); Apollo Lunar Landing Sites (volume 3); Apollo-Soyuz (volume 3); Armstrong, Neil (volume 3); Astronauts, Types of (volume 3); History of Humans in Space (volume 3); Humans versus Robots (volume 3); Kennedy, John F. (volume 3); Lunar Rovers (volume 3); Nasa (volume 3); Oxygen Atmosphere in Spacecraft (volume 3); Schmitt, Harrison (volume 3); Shepard, Alan (volume 3); Space Centers (volume 3); Space Suits (volume 3); Tools, Apollo Lunar Exploration (volume 3); Vehicle Assembly Building (volume 3); Why Human Exploration? (volume 3); Young, John (volume 3).

Randy L. Korotev


Brooks, Courtney G., James M. Grimwood, and Loyd S. Swenson Jr. Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1979.

Chaikin, Andrew. A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts. New York:Penguin Books, 1994.

Cortright, Edgar M., ed. Apollo Expeditions to the Moon. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1979.

Ertel, Ivan D., Roland W. Newkirk, and Courtney G. Brooks. The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1978.

Hansen, James R. Enchanted Rendezvous: John C. Houbolt and the Genesis of the Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous Concept. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1995.

Heiken, Grant, David Vaniman, and Bevin M. French, eds. Lunar Sourcebook: A User's Guide to the Moon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Launius, Roger D., and J. D. Hunley. An Annotated Bibliography of the Apollo Program. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1994.

Murray, Charles, and Catherine Bly Cox. Apollo: The Race to the Moon. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Wilhelms, Donald E. To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993.

Internet Resources

Brooks, Courtney G., James M. Grimwood, and Loyd S. Swenson Jr. Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4205/cover.html>.

Cortright, Edgar M., ed. Apollo Expeditions to the Moon. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-350/cover.html>.

Ertel, Ivan D., Roland W. Newkirk, and Courtney G. Brooks. The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology. 1978. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4009/cover.htm>.

Hansen, James R. Enchanted Rendezvous: John C. Houbolt and the Genesis of the Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous Concept. 1995. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/monograph4/splash2.htm>.

Jones, Eric M. Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. 1995-2000. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/>.

Launius, Roger D., and J. D. Hunley. An Annotated Bibliography of the Apollo Program. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/Apollobib/cover.html>.

*This image, known as "Earthrise," can be seen in the article "EarthWhy Leave" in Volume 4.


views updated May 29 2018






Alternate Names

Phoebus, Apulu (Etruscan)

Appears In

Homer's Iliad, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Hesiod's Theogony, Hyginus's Fabulae


Son of Zeus and Leto

Character Overview

The most widely worshipped of the Greek gods, Apollo (pronounced uh-POL-oh) was the son ofZeus (pronounced ZOOS) and Leto (pronounced LEE-toh). He was also the twin brother of Artemis (pronounced AHR-tuh-miss), the goddess of the hunt. Apollo had many roles in Greek mythology , including god of the sun , god of the arts (especially music, poetry, and dance), god of medicine, protector of herdsmen and their flocks, and god of prophecy or predictions. His oracle at Delphi (pronounced DEL-fye) where humans could communicate with the gods through an appointed person, was the most famous in the world, and his reputation spread far beyond Greek culture.

Major Myths

According to legend, Apollo was born on the Greek island of Delos (pronounced DEE-loss) and grew to adulthood in just four days. To escape the island, he changed himself into a dolphin and caused a great storm on the sea. Apollo then threw himself on the deck of a ship in trouble and led it safely to shore. Having reached the mainland, Apollo set off for an important oracle of Gaia (pronounced GAY-uh), the earth goddess. A monstrous serpent named Pytho (pronounced PYE-thoh) not only guarded the place but also spoke the oracle's prophecies. Apollo killed Pytho and took the oracle for himself. The name of the site was called Delphi because Apollo had become a dolphin {delphis in Greek) in order to reach it. Delphi became the most famous and frequently visited oracle in the ancient world. Its location was considered to be the geographic center of the earth. The oracle's words were inspired by Apollo and delivered by a local female elder. She was called the Pythia (pronounced PITH-ee-uh) in honor of Pytho. As she spoke, priests interpreted her prophecies and wrote them down. The priests of Apollo claimed to be descended from the sailors aboard the ship that Apollo had led to safety in the storm.

Apollo's form was considered the ideal of male beauty; therefore, he had many love affairs and fathered many children. Despite his attractiveness, there are numerous stories of Apollo's failure to win the heart of a woman he desired. There are more stories of lovers being unfaithful to him.

In one story, Apollo fell in love with Cassandra , daughter of King Priam of Troy. In order to win her favor Apollo gave Cassandra the gift of prophecy. When she rejected him, Apollo punished her by declaring that her prophecies would be accurate but that no one would believe her. In another story, he courted the nymph (female nature god) Sinope (pronounced SEE-noh-pee), who asked him to grant her a favor before she accepted his proposal. When Apollo agreed, she asked to remain a virgin until her death.

One of Apollo's tragic loves was Daphne (pronounced DAF-nee), daughter of the river god Peneus (pronounced puh-NEE-uhs). Apollo fell in love with Daphne, but she did not return his affection. When Apollo chased her through the woods, she became so frightened that she cried out for her father to save her. Peneus turned Daphne into a laurel tree so that she could avoid Apollo's advances. The disappointed Apollo broke off a branch of the laurel and twisted it into a wreath to wear on his head in memory of Daphne. Thereafter, the laurel tree became sacred to Apollo's cult, devoted worshippers of the god. The laurel wreath also became a mark of honor to be given to poets, victors, and winners of athletic contests.

Some of Apollo's romantic misfortunes involved animals that became associated with him. One myth explains how the crow's feathers turned from white to black. In it, Apollo asked the crow to watch over the princess Coronis who was pregnant with his son; nevertheless, the crow failed to prevent Coronis from having an affair with another man. Angry at the crow, Apollo turned its feathers from white to black. He then asked his sister Artemis to kill Coronis. When Coronis lay burning on the funeral pyre (a large pile of burning wood used in some cultures to cremate a dead body), Apollo pulled his unborn son Asclepius (pronounced uh-SKLEE-pee-uhs) from her body. The boy later became the god of healing.

Apollo in Context

The worship of Apollo was widespread not only in Greece but also throughout the ancient world. Shrines could be found in places from Egypt to Anatolia (now northwestern Turkey). The Romans built their first temple to Apollo in 432 bce, and he became a favorite Roman god. The Roman emperor Augustus was a devoted worshiper because the battle of Actium, in which he gained political supremacy, was fought near a temple of Apollo.

The worship of Apollo began outside of Greece. Early cults associated with the god developed in Asia Minor and in the lands north of Greece. Several tales link him to the city of Troy. One credits him with helping the sea god Poseidon (pronounced poh-SYE-dun) build the walls of Troy.

Scholars think that Apollo's original role may have been as protector of herdsmen and shepherds. He is often pictured holding a lyre, which is a type of harp, and shepherds were known for playing music to pass their idle hours. Apollo's identification as god of music, archery, and medicine came after his oracle was established at Delphi. Only much later did he become the sun god.

Apollo represents “the light,” both literal (the sun) and metaphorical, as in the light of reason and the intellect. Apollo's popularity clearly shows how important learning and the intellect were to the Greeks. They valued their soldiers, to be sure, but they also valued their thinkers. Philosophers, inventors, scientists, and artists all occupied places of honor in Greek society.

Key Themes and Symbols

To the ancient Greeks, Apollo represented order, reason, beauty, and self-control. Apollo is typically portrayed holding a bow and arrow, symbols of his role as the god of death and disease. Apollo is also often depicted holding a harp or lyre, representing his role as god of music and the arts or of shepherds. Another common symbol of Apollo is a tripod, a three-legged stool or altar normally reserved for oracles to use while communicating with the gods and predicting the future. Apollo was also associated with the wolf, the dolphin, the raven, the serpent, and other animals.

Apollo in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Like many important figures in myth and legend, Apollo is a favorite subject of art and literature. He first appears in Greek literature in the Iliad , Homer's epic, or long, grand-scale poem about the Trojan War. In the poem, Apollo is Troy's most consistent and enthusiastic champion against the Greeks. The Iliad opens with a fight between Apollo and Agamemnon (pronounced ag-uh-MEM-non), who took captive the daughter of Apollo's Trojan priest. Despite the priest's pleas and offers of ransom, Agamemnon refuses to return the girl. As punishment, Apollo sends a plague on the Greek army. Ultimately, Apollo kills the great Greek hero Achilles (pronounced uh-KILL-eez) by guiding the flight of an arrow shot by the Trojan warrior Paris into Achilles' heel, the only vulnerable spot on his body.

Ancient sculptures show Apollo as a handsome youth. One of the most famous is the Apollo Belvedere, a marble version of an ancient bronze statue found in Rome. The great German artist Albrecht Durer used the proportions of the statue to create his “ideal male” figure. Apollo is featured in the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Algernon Charles Swinburne. He also served as the inspiration for a ballet by Igor Stravinsky. More than twenty operas have featured Apollo as a central figure.

”Apollo” was also chosen as the name of the U.S. space program that resulted in humankind's first successful moon landing.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

The oracle at Delphi contained an important stone known as an omphalos. Using your library, the Internet, or other resources, research the omphalos. What is it? What does it represent? Why was it important to the ancient Greeks?

SEE ALSO Achilles; Agamemnon; Cassandra; Delphi; Greek Mythology; Iliad, The; Zeus


views updated May 17 2018


A pious Jew whose name (Gk. 'Απολλ[symbol omitted]ς) is a contracted form of Apollonius (of Apollo), mentioned by St. Paul and in Acts. Expert in Scripture, eloquent and with an ardent temperament, he was perhaps a traveling lecturer or professional orator. Apollos was a native of Alexandria, the center of Jewish Hellenism, which boasted of its exegetical Scripture schools and also of the Jewish philosopher philo judaeus. While not yet fully instructed in Christianity, Apollos met prisca (priscilla) and aquila in Ephesus; they completed his instruction, baptized him, and sent him with recommendations to Achaia and Corinth (Acts 18.2427). A clever apologist, he refuted the Jews at Corinth and deeply impressed Jews and Christians by his eloquence (Acts 18.28). One of the cliques formed at Corinth gave him special allegiance (1 Cor 1.1013). He joined Paul in Ephesus and did not want to return to Corinth (1 Cor 16.12). The only other mention of this loyal friend of Paul is in Ti 3.13. A tradition (Menolog. Graec. 2b.17) places him later as bishop of Caesarea. He has been suggested as the author of Hebrews (see hebrews, epistle to the).

Bibliography: e. b. allo, Saint Paul: Première épître aux Corinthiens (Études Bibliques 2d ed. 1956) xix-xxi. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek 114115.

[r. g. boucher]


views updated May 17 2018

Apollo in Greek mythology, a god, son of Zeus and Leto and brother of Artemis. He is associated with music, poetic inspiration, archery, prophecy, medicine, pastoral life, and the sun; the sanctuary at Delphi was dedicated to him.

Apollo is also the name for the American space programme for landing astronauts on the moon. Apollo 8 was the first mission to orbit the moon (1968), Apollo 11 was the first to land astronauts (1969), and five further landings took place up to 1972.
Apollo Belvedere an ancient statue of Apollo, now in the Belvedere Gallery of the Vatican Museum.


views updated May 11 2018

Apollo In Greek mythology, god of the Sun, archery, and prophecy; patron of musicians, poets, and physicians; founder of cities and giver of laws. He was the son of Zeus and Leto, twin to Artemis. In the Trojan War he sided with Troy, sending a plague against the Greeks.


views updated May 08 2018

1. A solar system asteroid (No. 1862), diameter 1.6 km; approximate mass 2 × 1012 kg; rotational period 3.063 hours, orbital period 1.81 years. Its orbit crosses that of earth.

2. The name of the NASA manned lunar programme that ran from 1963 to 1972.

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