Omicron’s mythical musings: the births of Apollo and Artemis

The Births of Apollo and Artemis

Hello everyone! I am very embarrassed because the last Mythological Musing was a little while ago…..Oh dear!  I’ve just been so busy! I hope you’ll forgive me. Anyway, I’ve decided to tell you all about the birth of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. They are so interesting! This is a stamp I found whilst rummaging about in the shop, showing Artemis, Apollo and their mother Leto (left to right).

As you probably know, Zeus the king of the gods had a tendency to go off with various other mortal and immortal women from time to time. This time, he feel in love with the beautiful Leto, who became pregnant. Jealous long-suffering Hera took her revenge but chasing the 9-month pregnant Leto all over the world so that she couldn’t stop to give birth anywhere. She even stopped Eilithyia the goddess of childbirth from giving Leto any help at all.  (Poor Leto, don’t you think?).

Finally, Leto arrived at a floating island called Ortygia. Apparently, Zeus helped a bit by fixing the island to the ocean floor with four columns. When Leto went into labour, she had a bit of a tough time without the help of Eilithyia, but all the other goddesses (except Hera of course!) did their best to help, but in the end, Iris (goddess of the rainbow) bribed Eilithyia to help, by giving her a necklace of gold and amber.

After a labour of nine days and nine nights, Leto gave birth to baby Artemis! Artemis then helped Leto over to the island of Delos, where Apollo was born.

Map of the Cyclades islands – you can see tiny Delos there, next to Mykonos – which, I discovered also, are so called because you could almost draw a circle around them!

Delos means ‘the brilliant’, as it was where Apollo first saw daylight lightening up the earth. Artemis and Apollo were then taken care of by their aunt Themis, who nourished them with nectar and ambrosia.

This is a lekythos showing Artemis on the left and Apollo on the right. The original is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

As twins, Apollo and Artemis were very close. Artemis was a huntress, and goddess of the moon. She never married and remained a virgin became a symbol of chastity and childbirth. Apollo was the god of many things, including the sun, music and poetry, healing and medicine, prophecy and oracles and civilisation. (Amazing isn’t it!)

This is a picture of me in the shop with another lekythos showing Apollo, and a little bronze figurine of Apollo.

Ortygia is an interesting island because it is in the city of Syracuse in Sicily, I found out. There’s actually a shop called ‘Ortigia’ as well! Really nice candles and things!

Anyway, that’s it for now! Love, Omicron x

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