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Apollo Belvedere, restored Roman copy of the Greek original attributed to Leochares, 4th century —Alinari/Art Resource, New York
Most widely revered of the Greek gods. He communicated the will of his father Zeus, made humans aware of their guilt and purified them of it, presided over religious and civil law, and foretold the future. His bow symbolized distance, death, terror, and awe; his lyre symbolized music, poetry, and dance. As a patron of the arts, he was often associated with the Muses. He was also a god of crops and herds. He became associated with the sun, and was even identified with Helios, the sun god. Also associated with healing, he was the father of Asclepius. By tradition, Apollo and his twin, Artemis, were born at Delos to Leto. Apollo's oracle was established at Delphi; the Pythian Games commemorated his killing (while still an infant) of the serpent Python to take the shrine. His many lovers fared poorly: the fleeing Daphne became a laurel tree; the unfaithful Coronis was shot by Artemis, and Cassandra, who rejected him, was doomed to utter true prophecies no one would believe.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Apollo, visit Britannica.com.