Quietly listen, dear friends, to the song I sing, for it honors the great Lord of Delphi, kindly master of men. Let my harp-strings carry you to high Olympos, where the lovely God lies upon a fragrant couch, unbraiding his long, long hair. He combs it out, golden tresses that fall like rays of the radiant sun, and the Muses lay at his feet, gazing with adoration upon him. Apollo pauses, smiles softly, then says in a voice as sweet as the lyre, "Hymn me a song, O beautiful maidens, for Olympos should ring with the sound of joyful song and light feet in sporting dances." Klio lifts her head and begins to sing, hers the story of Leto's wanderings. She tells how Hera was wroth with the daughter of Koios, and how she laid a curse upon her, so that no place that had felt the sun would shelter her as she brought forth her mighty children. In great pain the Goddess wandered, rejected at every turn, harried by the great dragon of Delphi, the Python. But when all seemed lost, and Leto feared Hera's curse would be her end, the humble island of Delos rose from the sea, and offered to receive the Goddess and her blessed children, since it had never felt the warm rays of the sun. Even before lovely-haired Leto had begun to be gripped with the pangs of child birth, Artemis came forth, an effortless birth. Apollo, however, proved a great deal harder, and Leto labored for nine nights and nine days, her daughter serving as midwife for her. Then, the joyous child sprang forth, Zeus' son, bathed in a golden light. The island laughed with joy, for it was the first to look upon the beautiful face of beautiful Apollo. And to this day, one can hear the echo of that laughter in the fragrant palm and cypress trees that adorn the once-craggy shores of Delos, rich in flowers. Thalia takes up the song from her sister, weaving a humorous story, though not a light one. She sings of the baby Apollo, hunting the terrible dragon Python four days after his birth. Creeping along the mountain crevice, little Apollo clutched his bow to him, his chubby fingers barely grasping it. The smell of the cave where the dragon lived was foul, and the God turned up his nose, but did not turn away, for his beloved mother had been wronged by the beast. When Leto wandered the world in great pain, Python drove her off, and tried to still the life in her belly. For such an afrront, Apollo had to have vengeance, whatever the cost. He spied the dragon slithering from its cave, and drew back his bow. His arms were steady as he slid an arrow into place, and steady as he took aim. Then, Apollo let fly - and the arrow took the serpent in the eye. Arrow after arrow flew until the enormous beast collapsed, and then Apollo rushed down, chanting his voctory song, "Ie, ie, paion!" Such was the God's greatest moment, for he took possession of the Delphic oracle, the ancient seat of prophecy. From there Apollo spoke the will of Zeus, his father, gaining much fame. Erato's turn comes next, and her song is one of love. Kyrene was a nymph who hunted in the woods of mount Pelion, protecting her father's herds with spear and sword. Apollo watched her from afar, delighting in her supple body and her quick movements. She seemed lovely to him as she raced with her hunting dogs or wrestled with wiry lions, and the God felt his heart leap in his breast at the thought of her. He appeared before her in all his shining glory, and Kyrene couldn't resist his full lips or shadowed eyes. She climbed into his swan-drawn cart and flew with him to Africa, where the God named a city after her. On Libya's golden couch, they whiled away the hours, lost in love. From their union came Aristios, hunter and herdsman. This was Apollo's greatest love, and unlike Hyakinthos or Daphne, it was completely untouched by sorrow. And with that, the song ends, and Apollo, greatly pleased, rises from his seat, and joins the Muses in their dance. And so too, does my song come to an end. Glorious Apollo do I honor, who kindly healed my mother, as she lay sick. Ie ie Paion! -Sannion ©2002
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