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To What Extent Do Stories And Information About Apollo's Personalities Problems Suggest That These Problems Can Be Resolved?

1919 words - 8 pages

Apollo can be said to embody certain personality problems, and certain problems of civilization (think of the culture-nature relationship/tension). To what extent, if at all, do stories and information about Apollo suggest these problems can be resolved?Apollo is a complex figure with multiple attributes that make him difficult to understand. He takes on many roles (god of prophecy, healing, arts, archery), each of which has a duality of its own. There is a double tradition of origin and a double name, Phoebus Apollo. "Apollo had two great sanctuaries, at Delphi and Delos, and this is part of the evidence that he is a composite god, with independent origins in the north and east" (Ferguson 177). His title, Phoebus, Shining One, suggests he was originally the Sun God. Delos was the scene of his birth.Apollo, in his role of prophet, denied the gift of true prophecy, so the Delphic oracle was always ambiguous, helpful as well as harmful. It left the seeker for advice and guidance to struggle on his own in his search for solutions and wisdom, which in most cases were only achieved through much suffering (Oedipus' gruelling journey). The Delphic inscription 'know yourself' was to teach humans the limits of mortal existence and in a process of self-discovery to develop a consciousness and become oneself. The oracle operates on a system based on punishment and atonement. Apollo served as a role model when he himself had to do penance, purify himself. "For his part in the palace revolt of the gods against Zeus, he was ordered to serve as workman for a king of Troy, Laomedon, for whom he helped build the walls of Troy. Later, when Zeus killed his son Asclepius with thunderbolts, Apollo in retaliation killed the Cyclopes who manufactured these weapons for Zeus. As part of his punishment to achieve ritual purification from this blood guilt, Apollo was subjected to Admetus, king of Thessaly, whom he loyally served as herdsman for a year" (Reinhold, 110)There are humanly logical explanations for all painful experiences, but the enlightenment - the healing aspect of it out of the darkness of wounds and victimisation - comes from the realisation, the acquiring of knowledge that within all experiences there are lessons learnt in spiritual insights. However, the oracle was often misused for political purposes. There is always a clash between the collective (tribal, cultural) consciousness, and the individual (self) consciousness. It is a question of what kind of society people live in, whether this polarity is brought into harmony and balance.There was a shift from matriarchal law, the law of nature and biology (where the role of father was unacknowledged) to the spiritual, moral law of the patriarchy (where there is an over-evaluation of the role of father). This caused much confusion and conflict. The struggle between the old mother rights and the new evolving patriarchal law is embodied in stories such as the story of Arestes. His act of matricide was...

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