Apollo and his Lyre
Extract from the book Apollo and his Lyre:
Long, long ago, when Zeus ruled over gods and men, the sacred island of Delos was not fixed in its present position in the archipelago of the Cyclades. In those times it was a floating island, drifting endlessly over seas and oceans – until one day a goddess set foot upon its shores, fear and anguish written upon her face. Her name was Leto. In her womb she bore two of Zeus’ children, Apollo and Artemis, and now she was seeking a place where she could give birth.
“O island,” cried the goddess, “age-long wanderer upon the waves, give me refuge and let me bear my children on your soil. I have been hunted all over the world by the Python, the fearsome monster which jealous Hera sent after me to seek revenge. I have been to Attica and to Thrace, to Lesbos, Chios – everywhere. Nowhere will they let me give birth. They all fear the terrible Python and the wrath of Hera. Receive me now, o island, you who know what endless wandering means, and I promise you that Apollo, the son whom I shall bear, will raise on your soil a splendid temple that will make your name renowned.”
Hardly had these words passed Leto’s lips when a violent trembling shook the whole of Delos. Two huge rocks thrust themselves upwards from the sea bed and the island settled firmly upon them, fixing itself once and for all in the position where it lies today. Thus Delos received Leto.
Immediately, a host of other goddesses came to Leto’s aid. Nine whole days and nights she was in labour and when, on the tenth night, she finally bore her children, the darkness immediately turned to bright daylight and the sun appeared in majesty in the heavens, casting its golden beams upon the isle. Truly, it could not have been otherwise, for the son that she bore was the god of light, golden-haired Apollo; and with him was born stern Artemis, goddess of moonlit nights.
Four days passed and already Apollo was a lithe youth filled with immortal power. When Hephaestus made him a gift of a silver bow with golden arrows that could not miss their mark, the young god resolved to kill the Python, the monster that had pursued his mother so relentlessly.
Swift as lightning, Apollo flew to Parnassus, where the dreadful monster had its lair. Until that moment, nobody had dared to raise his arm against the Python, which spread unheard-of miseries all around it. Wherever it dragged its serpent’s body the earth and all its fruits decayed and a foul rottenness spread over the land, whilst men died immediately they set eyes upon its awful form.
As soon as the fearsome dragon realized that someone had dared to try his strength against it, it came out of its lair and wormed its huge length among the rocks, searching out the enemy. When the monster saw that the being who stood before it was none other than the child of Leto, it went mad with anger and flecks of foam dripped from its mouth in its fury. Raising itself upon its snaky coils the Python loomed threateningly over Apollo, drawing its head back for the lunge that would tear the young god into bloody pieces.
Quicker than lightning, Apollo loosed a single arrow at the Python and hit it straight between the eyes. (…)
Κυκλοφορεί και στα ελληνικά με τίτλο “Η Λύρα του Απόλλωνα – Απόλλων – Ερμής”