Apollo and Coronis; White Raven; Association with Healing

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 As soon as Apollo was born on Delus among the goddesses who helped him into life, he defined his spheres of influence: “Let the lyre and curving bow be possessions to call my own, and for humans let me proclaim the unerring counsel of Zeus” (Homeric Hymn to Apollo, 131f).

Apollo and Coronis

In Greek mythology, there is a tale of  Apollo who fell in love with Coronis, a Thessalian princess of unsurpassed beauty. He commanded his divine messenger, the white  raven, to guard Coronis. Though Coronis was pregnant with Apollo’s child, she strangely did not care for her divine lover, but gave in to the advances of a mere mortal, Prince Ischys. She did not consider Apollo, The God of Truth, could never be deceived.

Lovers Swedish Royal Palace

Depiction of Apollo and Coronis

When the raven brought news to Apollo of his lover’s infidelity, he became enraged that his faithful messenger had not pecked out the eyes of the prince. Apollo flung a curse so furious, the raven’s pure white feathers were scorched black. Apollo killed Ischys and sent his sister, Artemis, to slay Coronis with her deadly arrows (other accounts indicate Apollo killed Coronis himself).


In spite of his ruthlessness, Apollo felt a pang of grief as he watched Coronis be placed on the pyre and the flames roar up. At the last moment, he removed his son from the womb. Apollo gave his newborn son, Asclepius, to the wise centaur, Chiron, who taught him 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).

Mythological Raven

Apollo’s 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.

Refer to website: http://www.theoi.com/Heroine/Koronis.html

14 Responses to "Apollo and Coronis; White Raven; Association with Healing"
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  6. How intriguing this post is, Linnea! I learned about the origin of Apollo’s raven and his healing ways too. I am glad to have looked through the archives to have found this post.

  7. Aquileana says:

    Great post dear Linnea… Apollo hds many affairs, indeed and there is also a metamorfosis involved here, which reminded me of his lover, Daphne (she was transformed into a bay laurel!).
    All the best to you. Aquileana 🙂

    • Hi Aquileana,

      Thank you for your comment. Apollo definitely was know for his many affairs. The mythology about Daphne was one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing your love of mythology; I love your website devoted to Greek Mythology aquileana.wordpress.com.

      Best wishes for a Happy New Year!


  8. Lovely post. I’ve never heard that story before, and you told it well. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thanks, Cathleen, for your feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is one of my favorite myths about Apollo how turn the white raven black when it brought him ill tidings about his lover’s affairs. There are certainly multi-layers of what the myth means. Have a great week.


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