Sunday, January 4, 2009

Apollo and Beauty

The Olympic god of Light and the Sun.
Apollo was worshipped by both ancient Greek and Roman religions, spreading right across the Roman empire as well as in modern Hellenic neopaganism and Etruscan mythology where he was known as Apulu.

Apollo is one of the twelve Olympians of Greek myth,  designated Lukgenes (lit: light-born) and is the personification of the soli-lunar deity, Horus, the child of supreme divinity.  Apollo along with fellow Greek deities Iacchus and Adonis are associated with Tiphareth on the Etz haChayim (Tree of Life), which in itself is about beauty.

This Sephira is in some respects the most important of all. It is the centre of the whole system; it is the only Sephira below the Abyss which communicates directly with Kether. It is fed directly from Chokmah and Binah; also from Chesed and Geburah. It is thus admirably fitted to dominate the lower Sephiroth; it is balanced both vertically and horizontally. In the planetary system it represents the Sun; in the system of Tetragrammaton it represents the Son. The entire geometrical complex of the Ruach may be regarded as an expansion from Tiphareth. It represents consciousness in its most harmonized and balanced form; definitely in form, not only in idea, as in the case of the number Two. In other words, the Son is an interpretation of the Father in terms of the mind. [Tiphareth is] thus representative of [the four] elements at their practical best. 
Book of Thoth, p.181 

While on the subject of beauty; I would also like to note that by ancient Greek thinking there was a close association in mathematics between beauty and truth; or as John Keats put it in Ode on a Grecian Urn:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
A thought echoed further by the Pythagoreans in their Goldern Verses:

Accustom thyself to a way of living that is neat and decent without luxury.
Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
And be not prodigal out of season, like one who knows not what is decent and honourable.
Neither be covetous nor niggardly; a due measure is excellent in these things.
Do only the things that cannot hurt thee, and deliberate before thou dost them.

Beauty to the Greeks was about symmetry; proportion and harmony.  This ideal was reflected in the lives of ancient Greeks, their architecture and politics. 

One of the symbols of Tiphareth is the truncated Pyramid; I see this as closely tied with the prophetic abilities ascribed to Apollo in Greek myth.  Another symbol, associated with Apollo is the lyre, a musical instrument created by Hermes for Apollo. 

The serpent[a], Python  was killed by Apollo using his silver bow and golden arrows.  Once the beast was slain, Apollo took control of the oracle and bestowed the gift of divine prophecy upon one of his priestesses.  It is from this story that we get the name Pythia for the preistesses of Delphi.

Another story from Greek mythology talks of the love Apollo had for Cyparissus; a male descendant of Heracles.  As a token of love Apollo gave Cyparissus a deer.  Cyparissus and the deer remained together until Cypariussus accidently killed it with a javelin.  Cyparissus begged Apollo to let him die and allow his tears to forever fall and with that, Apollo turned him into a tree; a tree with sap that falls like tears.  A Cypress.

According to Wikipedia; Apollo was reverred usign the following titles:
  • Apollo came from Greek mythology.
  • Apollo was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire.
  • In Celtic lansd he was most often seen as the healer and sun god.
  • Apollo Atepomarus ("the great horseman")
  • Apollo Belenus ("bright" or "brilliant")
  • Apollo Cunomaglus ("hound lord")
  • Apollo Grannus 
  • Apollo Maponus
  • Apollo Moritasgus ("masses of sea water")
  • Apollo Vidonnus ("clear light")
  • Apollo Virotutis ("benefactor of mankind"[b] )
Two distinctive cults of Apollo appear to have been predominant and yet distinct.  In the Roman temple of Apollo; he was invoked by Vestel Virgins as "Apollo Medicus, Apollo Paean", as physician and healer, while in Delphi the Pythia invoked his prophetic aspects through the famous oracle.

There is debate amoung scholars as to wether the Roman version of Apollo came to the Roman empire like much of their other culture, directly from the Greeks or wether the particular adaptation of Apollo was more heavilly direved from the Apulu of Etrucscan mythology.  If you are interested in more information there is an excellent essay  on Apollo in Rome.  However the serpent remains a strong symbol in both healing and prophecy throughout history and the modern era.

The personfiication of "the healer" is a strong theme in the ministry and work of the Master Jesus, and one of the many attributes of the deities of antiquity that we bring forth, personified and combined to form our modern views on religion.

May the divine Love, Light and Beauty of Apollo shine down upon your soul and lift your spirit high amoungst the stars.

a. or chthonic dragon of  Delphi (depending on the interpretation of the myth]

b. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Miranda Green. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. 1997 (I personally don't like this definition; but it is the best I can find)

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