In Greek mythology, Apollo was a powerful and diverse God. He was lauded as the Giver of Music, Medicine, Light, Law, Prophesy and the Arts. Apollo was considered to be the son of Zeus and Leto, and the father of Asclepius, also associated with Medicine. Apollo was the most handsome of all the Greek Gods, depicted with golden hair, an archer's bow, and a lyre. Apollo represents the principles of rational consciousness, wisdom, courage, clarity and truth, who shows people how to bring light to their minds and inner beings.
Apollo is said to direct the Muses, which puts music, history, dreams, dance, poetry, and art under his realm. The Muses are said to be the invisible forces that we call on when we exercise our creative talents and imagination.
Apollo has been called the true paradigm of a Greek God. He represented harmony, order and civilization, a bright and rational God. Associated with the cultivated arts of Music and Healing, he was a patron of intellectual pursuits and human development.
Apollo had a great temple built for him at Delphi which bore two Greek maxims, "Know Thyself" and "Nothing In Excess". Hermes invented the lyre, a harp like instrument with nine cords, in honor of the nine Muses. Hermes gave this first lyre to Apollo. In return, Apollo gave Hermes the caduceus, still used today as the symbol of Medicine.
Apollo was a gifted musician, who delighted the Gods with his lyre performances. He was also a master archer and a fleet-footed athlete, credited with being the first victor in the Olympic Games. He is said to have taught humans the art of healing.
Ancient sculptors showed Apollo as a beautiful youth with flowing hair tied in a knot above his forehead, wearing a laurel wreath, holding his lyre or bow. His most famous statue is the 'Apollo Belvedere', a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original, now kept in the Vatican Museum, in Rome, Italy.