Who's Who Greek Myth: Apollo the Sun God
The story of Apolloís birth to Zeusí cousin Leto is most evocative. Hera, in one of her famous fits of vengeful jealousy, saw to it that she would have no place to give birth when her hour came, forbidding anyone to welcome her, and thus forcing her to wander in a state of torment.
Finally,her sister Asteria, who had turned herself into a rock to escape the advances of Zeus, anchored herself, becoming the island of Delos in the process, and welcomed her sister.. Heraís wrath, however, had no bounds, and she plunged the midwife goddess, Eileithyia, into ignorance of the need for her assistance , but help came when goddesses friendly to Leto sent the messenger Iris to alert her.
After nine days of labor pains, Leto finally gave birth to the god, Apollo, who was born bathed in light. The arid island of Delos flowered; an olive tree with golden leaves appeared. Apollo was the god of the sun, of both plagues and healing, and of music and poetry.
His emblems were the bow and arrow, and the lyre, the latter a gift from Hermes. He killed the Python near Delphi (often considered symbolic of the supercession of the older Mother Goddess religion with the newer religion of sky gods).
His oracular shrine at Delphi, where priestesses gave prophecies to pilgrims was one of the two great centers of the Hellenic world, along with Olympia. The laurel tree (daphne in Greek) was sacred to Apollo, and stems from his pursuit of the nymph, Daphne, who turned into this tree to avoid the godís hot pursuit, the tree taking its name from her.