So he was always
represented by the Greeks in their pictures
and statues as a strong and beautiful young
Apollo was very fond of music, and was in
the habit of playing upon the lyre at the
feasts of the gods, to the great delight of
all who heard him. He was very proud of his
skill, and would often have contests with
the other gods, and sometimes even with men.
At one of these contests,
was present. But instead of deciding , as
was usual, that Apollo was much the more skillful player, he was better pleased with
another. Apollo became very angry at this,
and to show his opinion of Midas he changed
his ears into those of a donkey.
It was then the turn of Midas to be vexed.
He wore a cap which hid his large, ugly
ears; and he allowed no one to learn what
had happened to him except the man who cut
his hair. Midas made this man promise that
he would tell no one of his misfortune But
the man longed so to tell that at last he
could stand it no longer. He went to the
edge of a stream, dug a hole in the earth,
and whispered into it the secret Then he
filled up the hole, and went away satisfied.
But up from that spot sprang a bunch of
reeds, which immediately began to whisper on
every breeze, "King Midas has donkey’s ears;
King Midas has donkey’s ears." And so the
story was soon known to the whole world.
The Greeks thought that Apollo caused sudden
death among men by shooting swift arrows
which never failed of their aim. In this way
he punished the wicked, and gave welcome
death to the good who were suffering and
wished to die.
There was once a great queen named
who had six sons and six daughters. She was
proud of her beauty, and proud of her wealth
and power, but proudest of all of her twelve
beautiful children. She thought that they
were so beautiful, and she loved them so
much, that she even dared to boast that she
was greater than the mother of Apollo, who
had but two children.
This made the goddess very angry, and she
begged her son to punish the queen for her
wicked pride. Apollo, with his bow and
arrows at his side, floated down to the
earth hid in a cloud. There he saw the sons
of Niobe playing games among the other boys
of the city. Quickly he pierced one after
another of them with his arrows, and soon
the six lay dead upon the ground. The
frightened people took up the dead boys
gently, and carried them home to their
mother. She was broken-hearted, but cried, -
"The gods have indeed punished me, but they
have left me my beautiful daughters"
She had scarcely spoken when one after
another her daughters fell dead at her feet.
Niobe clasped the youngest in her arms to
save her from the deadly arrows. When this
one, too, was killed, the queen could bear
no more. Her great grief turned her to
stone, and the people thought that for many
years her stone figure stood there with
tears flowing constantly from its sad eyes.
One of the most famous temples in Greece was
built to Apollo at a place called Delphi.
Here there was always a priestess, whose
duty it was to tell the people who came
there the answers which the god gave to
their questions. She would place herself on
a seat over a crack in the earth out of
which arose a thin stream of gases. By
breathing this she was made light-headed for
the moment, and then she was supposed to be
able to tell the answer which Apollo gave.
These answers were almost always in poetry;
and though they were very wise sayings, it
was sometimes hard to tell just what the god
meant by them. Once a great king wished to
begin a war, and asked the advice of Apollo
about it at Delphi. The priestess answered,
that if he went to war he would destroy a
great nation. The king thought that this
must mean that he would conquer his enemies,
and so he began the war. But, alas, he was
conquered himself, and found that it was his
own nation which was to be destroyed.
Although these oracles, as they were called,
were so hard to understand, the Greeks
thought a great deal of them; and they would
never begin anything important without first
asking the advice of Apollo.
The Legend and Myth about Apollo, the God of Light
The Myth of Apollo, the God of Light
The story of Apollo, the God of Light is featured in the book
entitled Greek Gods, Heroes and Men by Caroline
H. Harding and Samuel B. Harding, published
in 1906 by Scott, Foresman and Company.