Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Greek God of the Month: APOLLO (week 2)


Blessed with many talents, Apollo was, among other things, the god of music. He mastered all instruments of Antiquity, including the kithara, but he's associated with the Lyre. As everything in Greek mythology there's a story behind this: a young Hermes stole some of Apollo's cattle in Thessaly and hid them in a cave. Using the cow's intestines and the shell of a turtle, young Hermes created the first lyre. Apollo complained to Hermes' mother, Maia, about her son stealing some of his grazing cattle. Hermes denied it but Zeus was witnessed to the theft and sided with Apollo. When Hermes played the lyre Apollo fell in love with it and allowed to exchange the stolen cattle for the new instrument. They agreed and Apollo became master of the lyre. In typical Greek fashion, the story is a combo of intriguing, cute, corny and somewhat gruesome (cow's intestines?).

In another famous story over Apollo's lyre, Pan boasted that his music rivalled Apollo's. A challenge was decided, witnessed by the mountain god Tmolus and Midas, a follower of Pan. Pan played his pipes and Apollo played his lyre. Tmolus said Apollo was the better musician but Midas sided with Pan. Angry by Midas' choice, Apollo changed Midas' ears into those of a donkey in order to distort his sense of hearing. Not very wise for Apollo but colorful nonetheless.

Apollo handed that first lyre created by Hermes to Orpheus, who, btw, is not Apollo's son, as some might believe. Orpheus wasn't a god but his musicianship was god-like thanks to Apollo's lyre. It is said that Orpheus could charm anyone, even gods, with it.

In HERCULES UNCHAINED, Iole is given a lyre from Orpheus (not pictured) and sings Evening Star. I don't believe this is Apollo's first lyre. In the film, the dubbing erroneously calls it a lute, which looks more like a little guitar.

Even today, as seen in the image below from Madonna's half time show this past Sunday during the Super Bowl, the imagery of Apollo's lyre lives on.


Mr B said...

SPOT ON! Great juxtaposition

PEPLUM cinema said...

Glad you enjoyed it!