He won several musical contests by playing this instrument. In one case he bested Pan, who competed on his own invention, the shepherd's pipe. On this occasion, King Midas had the bad sense to say that he preferred Pan's music, which caused Apollo to turn his ears into those of an ass.
APOLLO, in Greek mythology, son of the god Zeus and Leto, daughter of a Titan.
He was also called Delian from Delos, the island of his birth, and Pythian, from his killing of Python, the fabled serpent that guarded a shrine on the mountains of Parnassus.
In Homeric legend Apollo was primarily a god of prophecy. His most important oracle was at Delphi, the site of his victory over the Python. He sometimes gave the gift of prophecy to mortals whom he loved, such as the Trojan princess Cassandra.
When someone died suddenly, he was said to have been struck down by one of Apollo's arrows. Homer's epic of the Trojan War begins with the god causing a plague by raining arrows down upon the Greek camp.
As god of music, Apollo is often depicted playing the lyre. He did not invent this instrument, however, but was given it by Hermes in compensation for cattle theft. Some say that Apollo did invent the lute, although he was best known for his skill on the lyre. Apollo was a gifted musician, who delighted the gods with his performance on the lyre. He was also a master archer and a fleet-footed athlete, credited with having been the first victor in the Olympic games. His twin sister, Artemis, was the guardian of young women, and Apollo was the special protector of young men. He was also the god of agriculture and cattle and of light and truth. He taught humans the art of healing.
Some tales depict Apollo as pitiless and cruel. According to Homer's Illiad, Apollo answered the prayers of the priest Chryses to obtain the release of his daughter from the Greek general Agamemnon by shooting fiery, pestilence- carrying arrows into the Greek army. He also abducted and ravished the young Athenian princess Creusa and abandoned her and the child born to them. Perhaps because of his beauty and perfect physique, Apollo was represented in ancient art more frequently than any other deity.
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