Apollo Facts: Quick Guide to a Prominent Greek God

, Staff Writer
Updated March 4, 2021
statue of Apollo in Pompeii
    statue of Apollo in Pompeii
    ppl58 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Apollo is one of the most prominent gods in Greek mythology. Discover some interesting Apollo facts to expand your understanding of this fabled and powerful god of Ancient Greece.

Apollo's Family and Love Life

Apollo's family tree is more than a bit intimidating. He was definitely highborn in the world of Greek mythology.

  • Apollo's father was Zeus, who ruled Mount Olympus.
  • Apollo's mother was the goddess Leto, who was an immortal Titan.
  • Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis, who was an Olympian goddess.
  • Apollo and Artemis were born on Delos, a Greek island.
  • As a baby, Apollo was fed ambrosia, which is a type of nectar held sacred by the gods.
  • Zeus gave his son a golden chariot piloted by swans.
  • Apollo's notable love interests include relationships with the muse Calliope and the nymphs Acacallis and Daphne.
  • Apollo had many children with several different women; some were mortal and others immortal.
  • Apollo is said to have always treated his mother and sister with great kindness.

Apollo's Role in Greek Mythology

Apollo was a very important figure in Greek mythology.

  • Apollo is an Olympian, which means that he is one of the 12 most important Greek gods.
  • Along with the other Olympians, Apollo resided atop Mount Olympus.
  • His throne was made of gold. It sparkled like the sun and had a seat made of python skin.
  • Apollo is the only one of the Olympians whose name remains the same in Roman mythology.
  • Apollo was god of many things in Greek mythology, including archery, art, beauty, knowledge, light, medicine, music, poetry, sun, and prophecy.
  • Ancient Romans also worshipped Apollo as the god of healing and prophecy.
  • Apollo created the temple Delphi, where mortals could go and ask questions of him through oracles.
  • Apollo plays a significant role in Homer's The Iliad.
  • While Apollo is not the one who shot the arrow that killed Achilles, he guided the arrow shot by Paris of Troy so that it would hit the right spot (Achilles' heel).
  • He was known to have a foul temper and vengeful spirit. For example, he loved a mortal named Kassandra and provided her with the gift of prophecy. She did not love him back, so he made sure no one would believe her prophecies.
  • Even so, Apollo was also among the most beloved of the gods.
  • He was a skilled musician who played the lyre. For a time, he served as the leader of the chorus of muses.

Symbols Associated With Apollo

A number of symbols are associated with the Greek god Apollo.

  • He is visually depicted as a handsome young man with long hair and a clean-shaven face.
  • The laurel branch stands for the fate of the muse Daphne, whom Apollo loved. She was transformed to become a laurel tree.
  • A palm tree symbolizes Apollo's entry into the world. This is because his mother held onto a palm tree while giving birth to him.
  • A bow and quiver represent Apollo's outstanding archery skills.
  • A lyre symbolizes Apollo’s musical talents.
  • A bronze tripod serves as a symbol of his role with the oracles at Delphi.

Comparing Greek and Roman Mythology

Now that you've learned some basic facts about Apollo, a prominent Olympian with a special place in Greek and Roman mythology, it's a good time to learn more about the different types of mythology. Start by exploring Greek vs. Roman gods to get a sense of how the deities were viewed in both traditions.