Greek God Apollo’s Consorts and Love Life

Apollo's love interests

Greek God Apollo’s Consorts and Love Life |Image source.

Apollo, also known by the Roman name Phoebus, was the Greek god of multifaceted things such as the sun; music; knowledge; light; order and justice; poetry; medicine; oracles and divination; and plagues. He was born a few moments after his twin sister Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.

Being the son of Zeus and Leto, Apollo was ranked very high on Mount Olympus (the home of Greek gods). He was clearly a calm and very intelligent god. However, like any other Olympian god, Apollo had his fair share of affairs with major divinities and mortals. Here are a few examples of Apollo’s consorts and love interests:

Coronis

Coronis was a mortal and the mother of Apollo’s son Asclepius, the god of medicine and medicinal healing. In one account of the tale, Coronis is rumored to have fallen in love with Ischys. A crow who knew about Coronis’ affair approached Apollo with the sad news. Apollo took the words of the crow as false, and in anger turned the crow’s feathers black. Prior to that, all crows had white feathers. Isn’t that a classic case of killing the messenger?

When the truth eventually came out, Apollo’s twin sister Artemis took it upon herself to defend Apollo’s honor by killing Coronis with an arrow.

What happened to Coronis and Apollo’s child, Asclepius? Following in his father’s love for medicine, Asclepius went on to become the greatest physician in ancient Greece. Worried that Asclepius was close to finding a cure to all of mankind’s illnesses, Zeus struck Asclepius with one of his thunderbolts. Apollo then avenged the death of Asclepius by killing the Cyclopes that manufactured Zeus’ thunderbolts.

Marpessa

Apollo's love interests - Marpessa

Pottery with a picture of Marpessa, Idas, Apollo, and Zeus

Marpessa was the granddaughter of Ares and Demonice. Marpessa was not exactly fond of Apollo. Instead, she preferred Idas. This resulted in a bitter confrontation with Apollo. Zeus intervened and asked Marpessa to choose between the Apollo and Idas. Marpessa chose Idas. She believed that Apollo was unlikely to stay with her once she grew old and fray.

Princess Cassandra (Kassandra)

Cassandra and Apollo

Cassandra standing in the background of a burning city of Troy | Painting by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London)| Image source

Cassandra, a Trojan princess – daughter of King Priam – was another love interest of Apollo. The god of the sun even bestowed on her the gift of prophecy. However, Cassandra fell out of love with Apollo. Because gods were not allowed to take back their gifts, Apollo exacted his revenge by rubbing Cassandra off her ability to persuade people. What happened then was that Cassandra could foretell all the future that she wanted, but no one ever believed her words.

Princess Cyrene

Cyrene and Apollo

Cyrene tending to the herd |Picture by Edward Calvert, 19th century

Cyrene was another mortal who featured prominently in Apollo’s love life. Cyrene was the queen of Cyrene, a North African city. The union between Cyrene and the Greek god Apollo produced the deities Aristaeus and Idmon. Aristaeus grew up to become the god and lord protector of flocks, crops, and bees.

The Nymph Daphne

Apollo pursuing Daphne, the nymph

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s oil canvas painting (1755/1760) of Apollo pursuing Daphne, the nymph

Without a shred of doubt, Daphne, the nymph, was the most famous love interest of Apollo. However, because she had earlier promised Artemis to forever remain innocent, Daphne strongly opposed all of Apollo’s advances. In the end, she felt that she had had enough of Apollo’s constant pursuit. Daphne asked her father Peneus to cast a spell on her in order to escape Apollo’s constant pestering.

The spell turned Daphne into a laurel tree the moment Apollo glanced at her. Some say that this marked the beginning of Apollo’s usage of a laurel wreath. He did so in honor of Daphne and her memory.

Cyparissus

Apollo's love interests

Cyparissus grieving over the death of his deer. Painting- Cyparissus (the 1670s) by Jacopo Vignali.

Cyparissus was the son of Telephus, a descendant of Hercules (Heracles). He was one of the few male lovers of Apollo. His demise came when he mistakenly killed a pet deer that was given to him by Apollo. Filled with utter guilt, Cyparissus pleaded with Apollo to make him sad. Apollo cast a spell on Cyparissus, turning him into a Cypress tree.

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)

Hyacinth and Apollo

The Death of Hyacinth by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Apollo’s love life is certainly incomplete without making mention of Hyacinth. Many Greek mythologists state that Hyacinth was Apollo’s favorite. However, their relationship was turned upside down when Zephyrus showed up.

Zephyrus, the West Wind deity, got jealous of the relationship between Apollo and Hyacinth. While a practice match was going on between Apollo and Hyacinth, Zephyrus intentionally diverted the discus with his wind. The discus ended up striking Hyacinth dead. But before Hyacinth left for the land of the dead, Apollo kept some part of Hyacinth. Apollo then used this part to create a flower that came to be known as the Hyacinth flower.

Hyacinth- Apollo's love interest

Hyacinth flower was named after one of Apollo’s love interest, Hyacinth

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