The Power of Speech

A friend of mine recently wrote on her blog that inspired my thoughts in this direction of how Apollon has influenced over time my perception of speech and its power. Granted most people associate logos with Hermes, a god who is appropriately equipped with something of a glib tongue. But Apollon also has an authority when it comes to right speech which extends into his presidence over the oracle, and art over which he holds governance. The speech of Apollon isn’t a matter of cunning, or word play, and though it is often instructive (for which Apollon can be rightly honored at educational centers and can also be attributed to his role as leader of the muses) this is not necessarily always the case, whicht we can note as a god whose speech is ambiguous. But that said, his speech is untainted and true, and as many writers have observed, he does not lie.

This of course sheds some light onto his somewhat exasperated relationship with Hermes as indicated in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes with his younger brother’s lies and deceit. Yet there is a thread of commonality in which persuasive speech can be credited to either god. Apollon’s speech could be considered persuasive in that the tone charms the listener, and a skill that passes to those who belong to the god, particularly among musicians and poets. This skill is also seen when Lycurgus sent a bard to Sparta to pass his laws among the people, that his manner of speaking and playing would compell obedience to the laws. Compelling by speech could also naturally be aligned to oracles and diviners. More or less it appears that this manner of speech, which is often consideredly divinely inspired or contains within it qualities of goodness (such as truth, compassion–as which Apollon used to persuade Zeus to not destroy humanity and start over, enlightenment etc) is part of the realm of Apollon. This can be in constrast to the wily speech of Hermes which can amuse and delight, but also serves the purpose of benefitting a person, or people, by trickery. It is not something I would color as bad, or try to polarize in some way to the work of Apollon in logos. This manner of speech just serves differently. It is cunning in the way that a teacher may trick a difficult pupil into learning something by turning it into a game. Or to use another analogy, I would place the passage of myths partly within the domain of Hermes, as these don’t outright teach us sacred things, but it packages them within an attractive wrapping. This would also be a manner of speech in which I would address getting one leg up on one’s competition or enemy. He has a flexibility of speech to serve a purpose whereas Apollon may cloud a direct truth with a slight ambiguous turn of phrase but nevertheless refers directly to the thing…and therefore also has times where he appears to be limited in what he can say, perhaps due to this fact. In other words…Apollon tells the truth, whereas Hermes may use a lie to tell a truth. But of course where would we be without Athena who is attributed with crafting language itself, and setting layers of meanings within the words themselves by which she conveys divine meaning into everything that is said.

This, then, presents us with an interesting triumvate of speech.

As one who loves Apollon, I think that this has had influence on how I use speech myself. First I must clarify that I am naturally a terrible liar. I cannot carry a lie if my life depended on it without betraying the fact. I just can’t keep a straight face. Something which frequently got me busted in my youth. Oh I could be sneaky, I won’t lie there. But the trick was to do it and not get caught, because once I was caught then that was the end of the story. At this point in my life I don’t even try, largely also as part of my personal alignment to Apollon. I will speak passionate and compassionately. I will speak in humor, I may even dress up my speech poetically, but I won’t degrade my speech with lies. This also makes me less favorable towards those who lie with ease for their own benefit, but also at the hurt of someone else.

However, this also means that I have come to know when to be silent, which has become a valuable tool for someone as blunt as I am. There always reaches a point where prudence dictates what is no longer permissable to talk about. Even here on my blog there are always limits to what I feel I can talk about publically, and other things are kept in silence….and usually it is the most important and holy things to me which are inappropriate to speak aloud publically. Speech is not always necessary, and I have learnt that understanding the line is valuable. As is understanding what virtues are carried in your speech, and what kind of influence it will have, since all speech is blessed with some manner of influence, potentially both benevolent and harmful.

I think that this is a matter which can benefit all from this sacred triumvate that we always know what we are saying, how we are saying it, when we shoud say it, to what purpose we are saying it, and what influence it will have. Speech is a powerful part of being human, and something which is graced upon us from the gods.


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