Apollo and Coronis
In Greek mythology, there is a tale of Apollo falling in love with Coronis, a Thessalian princess of unsurpassed beauty. He ordered his divine messenger, a pure white raven, to guard her. Though Coronis was pregnant with Apollo’s child, she gave in to the advances of a mere mortal, Prince Ischys, and betrayed her divine lover. She never considered that Apollo, the God of Sun and Truth, could never be deceived by her lies.
Depiction of Apollo and Coronis
When Apollo’s Raven brought news to him of his lover’s infidelity, he became enraged that his avian messenger had not pecked out her mortal lover’s eyes. Apollo flung a curse so furious the raven’s white plumage was scorched black by his solar flames. He killed Ischys and sent his sister, Artemis, to slay Coronis with her deadly arrows (other accounts indicate Apollo killed Coronis himself).
Apollo, God of Sun and Truth
After his act of vengeance, Apollo felt a pang of grief as he watched Coronis be placed on the pyre and the flames ignite around her. At the last moment, he removed his son from her womb and gave his newborn son, Asclepius, to Chiron. The wise centaur mentored Asclepius in the art of healing herbs. Thereafter, Apollo became associated with healing through his son, Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Coronis was set among the stars as Corvus, the crow (korônê in Greek).
Apollo’s Scorched Raven
Rome’s Association of Apollo with Healing
The Romans closely associated Apollo with healing. The Roman historian Livy recounts a plague in 433 BCE when the Roman people vowed to build a temple to Apollo and performed rituals to quell the wrath of the gods so the pestilence would not spread. Two years later, the Romans dedicated a temple to Apollo who they attributed for ending the epidemic. Up to the time of Emperor Augustus, the temple of Apollo Medicus was the only temple of Apollo in Rome. In 212 BCE the Romans instituted games in his honor, Ludi Apollinares. After the Roman conquest of Gaul, archaeological research shows inscriptions at Gallic healing sanctuaries combining “Apollo’ with the native names such as Apollo Belenus or Apollo Grannus.
Apollo, God of Healing
Fritz Graff, Apollo; Printed 2009 by Routledge, New York.
Edith Hamilton, Mythology; Printed 2013 by Back Bay Books, New York.