To Apollo

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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