This is a continuation ofmy post yesterday exploring whether or not Apollon can be considered to have a chthonic function. I was writing my booklet, “The Name of Apollon,” and I started writing on this very subject in the section about Apollon the Destroyer. I started speaking of Phoibos whose brilliant,pure emanations destroys, even as Phoibos Apollon destroyed the dragonness Delphinia and how that led to the Pythian Apollon in the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollon. The words of the hymn are very particular to the meaning of the title because he,and the dragonness, were named for the function which he brought about by bringing together the power of the earth and the sun…..rotting. Pytho, refers to the rotting, and therefore to a function of Apollon as a god of boundaries as I spoke of yesterday,in which the process releases, through the deteriation of the flesh, the soul from the body.
Interesting Phoibos and Pythian are two titles that are perhaps the most prevalent in Hellenic literature. Of course it is even more interesting when you consider the connection between Delphi and Pytho as a singular place. It is something I spent a paragraph discussing in “the Name of Apollon” in a more general sense relating to Apollon’s name as descriptive of his function in the cosmos,but I will likely pick it up in greater detail when I write a booklet on Apollon and Delphinia (expanding a chapter that I written before on the subject). This care-taking of the remains of the dead can be pinpointed to a couple of mythic examples such as his burial of the remains of Zagreus on Parnassos, and his care of the remains of Sarpedon after his death in the battle of Troy when Apollon washes, annoints and prepares the body.
In my booklet “The Name of Apollon” I am more over trying to show how the various meanings that Socrates pointed out in the form of Apollon’s name are interlinked. To simplify my thought here: the destroyer brings an end to the living (as well as destroying miasma and corruption), the destroyer also acts in the process of rotting and decay which releases the soul, rotting likewise can be viewed in the manner of breaking up and deteriorating illness as it is a gradual process of releasing the body from the hold of sickness. The rotting god, the god who rots the remains of the dead in their tombs, is also the washer, the purifier…as the soul is purified from whatever impurities it carried from its life in the same vein as a person being purified from miasma that t hey have incurred by their actions. These seems that it would be part of the rotting process that the dead during the 40 days becomes removed from who they were while living. It seems to be of some interest that to Pythos people often came to deal with issues of impurity…a notable example being Herakles. With the removal of all such influences leads to harmonic organization. The destroyer-archer is the rotting god, who is the washer/purifier, who is the god of harmonic order.
It seems important to bear in mind that Apollon as destroyer destroys not only all life, but also destroys matter in general. However as a boundary god he also destroys the illusion of death with new birth and the soul is reborn, and spring returns every year.