Apollon and Rudra

So I have vastly amused myself reading a particular article online for another post on more syncretic fun (since I rarely post on this it is nice to indulge). Foremost because this article that I am reading, which compares Faunus/Silvanus with Rudra/Shiva ends his essay, after mentioning a great number of things that fit quite well with Apollon but as assigned to Faunus, by saying that connections to Apollon are superficial based on healing, destructive nature and possessing a bow. So this is the characterization of Apollon. It is so  *nice* when someone puts a lot of effort and thought into their article regarding one god to address another god and sum them up in one sentence. Not that I disparage the association between Faunus and Rudra, but rather I think Faunus is the key in those pieces of academia that associate Apollon and Mars, the latter who was intimately associated with Faunus and Silenus. Of course it is easy to forgive it away and say well this individual, clearly a student of Roman religion, either has less developed information on Apollon, or choses to ignore it. First I would like to give a snippet from a book on sacred-texts that was drawing quotes from Vedic literature.

In the following texts from the Vedas, † referring to Rudra, will be seen the germs of some of the legends found in the later books concerning Siva:—”What can we utter to Rudra, the intelligent, the strong, the most bountiful, which shall be most pleasant to his heart, that so Aditi may bring Rudra’s healing to our cattle, and men, and kine, and children? We seek from Rudra, the lord of songs, the lord of sacrifices, who possesses healing remedies, his auspicious favour; from him who is brilliant as the sun, who shines like gold, who is the best and most bountiful of the gods.” “We invoke with obeisance the ruddy boar of the sky, with spirally braided hair, a brilliant form.” “Far be from us thy cow-slaying and man-slaying weapon.” In the same hymn Rudra is called the father of the Maruts or Storm-gods; to explain which the commentator introduces a legend of a later date which is found in the account of the Maruts. ‡ In another hymn Rudra is thus addressed: “Thou fitly holdest arrows and a bow; fitly thou [wearest] a glorious necklace of every form [of beauty].” http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/hmvp/hmvp33.htm

First of all there is nothing in this that doesn’t sound like Apollon. In fact one etymological source that connects an indo-eruopean root for the name Apollon comes from apel, which means strong. This is nothing new to those who are quite familiar with this god, as Apollon is a god who not only outraced Hermes but also outboxed Ares. Apollon is all in all the victorious god. I saw another website which poo-pooed this etymology as saying that they couldn’t see how apel became Apollon, except that in Dorian dialect the gods name was Apellon. Intelligence really should be a-given considering that he is the leaders of the Muses, daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory) and as a bringer of civilization that would be linked all cognitive arts and abilities. Though the author of the article I will get to momentarily downplayed the healing and medicine of Apollon, but this is clearly a big part of Rudra’s character whether that author wanted to admit it or not…healing and reverse dealing with disease and death to all manner of life. As we know from the Iliad Apollon’s arrows effects all life, starting with the beasts and continuing on to men. Apollon’s association with cattle I have spoken of before, and is quite apparent to in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. Likewise the lost satyr play Sophocles deals with this very myth, which takes an interesting form as Silenus and satyrs aid Apollon in the search. Apollon is notably brilliant as the sun, so much so that he is confused with Helios frequently, and he is quite golden…his hair is literally gold in what remains of the statue still preserved at Delphi. And lord of songs is a no-brainer I would hope.

As for sacrifices, Apollon on a Hittite altar, supposedly constructed during an allegiance with Alexander the great, called Apollon protector of the altar. Here he is in the position of protecting and supervising sacrifice activity. Even in his oracle position this can be known as he often indicates to petitioners on how best to sacrifice to a deity, or what sacrifice is necessary. Apollon does have one epithet though that refers to god of sacrifices, specifically of sacrifices following disembarkment, and an epithet which calls him lord of ashes may have something to do with the sacrificial ash altar as much as it does with his association with the funeral pyre. This may be a bit of a stretch I admit, but it is there nonetheless. Even bountiful is well present considering that Apollon is associated with the bounty of grains, the maturation of which is intimately connected to important festivals of his, and the grape harvest at summer’s end, as well as simultaneously the shepherd sacrifice in which a ram reared through the year was sacrificed to him at the aforementioned Karneia. Because he is part of the seasonal maturation and harvest process he is a bringer of bounty. Likewise, the reference of him being the ruddy boar can be found in Apollon’s association with pigs and boars that I wrote of previously in other posts which you can find in doing a quick search of my blog. Last the Maruts which are connected with Rudra, as their father here are important parallel as Apollon Telchines was associated directly with storms, and as I will go on to mention from the article the Maruts played as singers similar to the Corybantes and the choruses lead by Apollon in the mysteries and in regards to his relationship with Dionysos (who bears a strong resemblance to Indra in many respects).

So now I want to address the article, having taken care of that quote regarding Rudra. I will be quoting paragraphs that the author used as evidence for his claim and then cross reference this with what we know about Apollon.

“They have a cult and abode distinct from other gods, closely associated with woods and wilderness. They are in special relation to animals, cattle, inparticular. They have common abilities, such as healing all creatures. Their destructive character puts them in relationto the god of war. Poetry is the function of Faunus while Rudra’s sons, the Maruts, accompanying Indra on his martialexploits, sing hymns of praise.”

and later he says:
“In accompanying Indra on his martial exploits, theMaruts do more than simply fight. They also sing hymns of praise and are called the singers of heaven (RV V 57, 5).Their song is perceived as powerful since with it they create Indra-might, cleave a mountain with the sound of the pipe or make the sun shine (see Macdonell 1897: 80).Their prayers, hymns and songs are, alongside theirfighting, perceived as assistance to Indra.”


Frankly, as I have mentioned before in other posts, despite Apollon’s characteristic alignment with civilizations and its gifts, he is more typically a loner. He is a god who dwells in the high mountains, and a good number of his temples are in such locations, including at Cyprus where his temple resided at a higher elevation. If not in mountains, they were often distinctly outside of the city limits. The original temple of Apollon at Athens for instance was in a swamp, and another important temple resided outside of the city on route to Eleusis. Pausanias mentions many temples of Apollon that reside outside of the city proper in fact. But moreover Apollon is a god who roams Parnassos with the Muses, which mythically is how he first came upon Dionysos who was traveling there. This doesn’t seem to fall short of another quote given by the Vedas which says “Shine upon us, dweller in the mountain, with that blessed body of thine which is auspicious.” Most of these points I addressed above, but I want to emphasize that Apollon has big time military associations. In the Peloponnese he was particularly revered by the Doric people (especially the Spartans) as the went into battle. He is the Marshaller of the Host, and the Paian was sung in Hellas at facing battle of which we have account in Aeschylus’ The Persians as being such a sound that it invoked terror.

It is rather likely that a number of paians composed for Apollon were of a militaristic character (especially given that Delphian myth in which he was called Paian being told to strike!)  as often as they were associated with healing mythically with the tale of Hyakinthos in the Spartan myth. Also, never mind the clear militaristic nature of Apollon in his defense of the citadel of Troy in the Iliad. As I mentioned above Apollon is also called the father of the Corybantes in Somathrake. The Corybantes which militaristic dancers and chorus that were an important part of the mysteries. Apollon as their father was quite probably their leader. In relation, Diodorus Siculus when speaking of Apollon and Dionysos on the latter’s campaigns, says that Apollon accompanied him as the leader of the choruses of the army.

The author then continues to speak of the associations between Faunus and Silvanus:
“Faunus and Silvanus greatly overlap in their divine function. Both areperceived as gods of the wilderness, closely associated with shepherds and invoked to protect cattle. The difference is found in their worship, Faunus generally having an urban, public cult, and Silvanus having a private, mostly rural cult that was later transposed to the Roman provinces. The later, Roman interpretation associated both the divinities with Greek Pan.”

Consider this then given what I have said above, and what many of my readers are probably already familiar with from previous posts. The relationship he is stressing here between Faunus and Silvanus is quite similar in many ways to the relationship we see between Apollon and Pan, both wolfish deities, but shepherd gods, both depicted as horned gods (the horns of the Doric Apollon could be that of a ram or due to recent research could more closely resemble a large breed of goat particular to Crete),and both pastoral gods called Nomios. The division between urban and rural is a bit more blurry as both gods have residences within and outside of cities. The Doric Apollon is also in at least one place called the son of Silenus who probably more closely resembles one’s idea of Faunus of the Romans. So this association that the author tries to jump into is one that equally fits with Apollon despite his declarations at the end of his article.

The author then goes to some length to go into the Etymology of the name of Faunus and Silvanus preparing for an etymological journey into the name of Rudra.

“As to the Vedic counterpart, Rudra, the Indiantradition has insisted on deriving it from the Sanskrit root rud ‘weep, cry, howl, roar’ as if the god were one who weeps or howls, a notion that cannot be found in the Rig Veda. It has also been derived from the root * which isuntenable as Sanskrit would retain the aspiration.”

Unfortunately as this doesn’t fit what he desires, as he rejects the association of the name Faunus with wolf, he draws on another resource in which the rud root can be linked to an earlier Indo-European meaning wild or rude. Personally I have no problems with the first interpretation as Lykeios does refer to the wolf, and that as the wolf he killed the Telchines (and thus perhaps alluding the howling winds as Apollon is known as a storm god as Telchinios). Even roar as the Hittite version of Apollon’s name means “Father Lion.” Apollon is intimately associated with sound in general…fierce and beautiful both. And there is more than one myth in which the weeping of the god has produced result. The tears of Apollon in his exile as he flew off to Hyperborea has been noted as becoming amber that fell to the earth, and the creation of the river of Marsyas is attributed to the tears of the god and the nymphs, giving new body to the slain silenos from whom all satyrs sprung. If we consider the possibility that Marsyas may very well be Silenus, and Silenus may have been a form of Apollon in his pastoral nature, in which his older form was slain (much in the way the association is made between Medusa and Athena has been made), then we can see an interesting context in alignment from the text the first quote came from in which the weeping was a transformative tool from  Agni (who there is one idea that connects this name as an etymological root of Apollon via Andrew Lang his book Modern Mythology, actually from a name of Agni as Saparagenya) to Rudra.

“The boy said, ‘My evil has not been taken away, and a name has not been given to me. Give me a name.’ Prajāpati said, ‘Thou art Rudra.’ Inasmuch as he gave him that name, Agni became his form, for Rudra is Agni. He was Rudra because he wept (from rud, to weep).”  This account of the birth of Rudra agrees with that of the Vishnu and Mārkandeya Purānas, and to some extent with that of others.”

But back to the article in question. He says that Rudra is called Shiva that he be favorable. Though there is no name for Apollon that means favorable, whereas Faunus does have this attributed to him, Apollon’s name in one translation is of a favorable nature in that he wards off and has many epithets that address him as a kind of benevolent rescuer, protector, helper and so forth.

The author then goes into speaking of cattle. As I have said above, Apollon has a strong connection with cattle, from the skull of the bull he had in Claria, to the bronze ox, bull and bison that were left as devotional gifts to him at Delphi, and the Homeric Hymn. Apollon is the god of the ox-goad, and though he “trades” it in myth to Hermes, it is as much as his and Hermes continues to own and use the lyre and gift it to his favorites. Apollon is perhaps in his highest function as the divine shepherd. Just as his son Ascheylus becomes associated with his healing functions, and his son Arisatios become association with his herding functions. But above all this is Apollon’s domain. He ushers in new life, he nurtures it, he rears it to maturity, and he slays it. It is of little wonder that when he had to serve penance it was acting as a shepherd, both in the case of Admetus and for Ilium which is referred to by Homer in the Iliad.

“The poet offers him hymns “like a herdsman” (RV I 114, 9), and askshealth for “our steeds, wellbeing to our rams and ewes, tomen, to women and to kine” (RV I 43, 6).”

Shortly afterward the author then carries over to discuss the wild nature of Rudra, perhaps to shore up his connection with Faunus, but what he uses as evidence speaks more to be of Apollon who lives beyond the Ripaean Mountains, in the North beyond the North Wind… Apollon who delights in mountains as I have indicated above. the aggressive nature of Apollon, that can be perceived as fearful, is well known to any who have read the Iliad or any number of Apollon’s myths in which he slays the living. The author makes an attempt to parallel this with Faunus and Silvanus in more specific kinds of dangers that they manifest, but doesn’t to me come across quite as broad as the all-slaying darts of Apollon that inflict man and beasts (again as we know from the Iliad) as well as several epithets in which he is a slayer of specific kind of creatures.

“As opposed to other Vedic gods who dwellin the east, Rudra lives in the north of the Vedic lands as “Mountain-dweller, Mountain-wanderer and Protector of mountains” (Oldenberg 1993: 111). He is depicted as sinister and frightful, so destructive and unpredictable that he must be implored in a sequence of verses to have mercy and spare both people and cattle (RV I 114, 6-8. 10). His shafts are a danger to all living creatures: “May Rudra’s missile turn aside and spare us, the great wrath of the impetuous One avoid us. Turn, Bounteous God, thy strong bow from our princes, and be thou gracious to our seed and offspring” (RV II 33, 14).”

This is followed at length by discussing the fertility and healing nature. this pretty much follows on my previous comment. Apollon is the divine shepherd, and as such he does it above and beyond. When he kept the herds of Admetus every ewe and heifer dropped twins, and so rich became the lands of Ademtus from this. His associations with fertility and shepherding can also be connected with the mystery program of Demeter in which Apollon is not only a swine-herd, and leader of the chorus/initiates, but also propitiated with offerings during the Proerosia in the autumn suggesting a fertility association in the autumnal harvests before the rainy season of sowing crops. There is also something I had read not too long ago, I want to say from Proclus but I can’t be sure, maybe one of the Rhapsodies, in which Demeter is addressing her daughter in regards to the bed of Apollon. This is specifically called into association with Rudra via a commeration of the dead. Though, I don’t know of any commemoration of the dead in Hellas around this time, the associations of harvest and the sowing season, and the descent of Persephone do have a certain address to this idea of the death of the season beginning of the planting season and thus requests addressed for fertility, even though Apollon shortly thereafter departs again for his most northern abode.

“You are medicine: medicine for the cattle, medicine for horse and man, prosperity to the ram and mother sheep”.

Of course the author makes a point of comparing he aggression of Rudra as more of a natural aggression rather than that of a warrior. He states it along the lines of being like a dread beast of the forest. This makes no nevermind to me though as wolfish Apollon says much the same. Likewise for all his actions in war, Apollon himself rarely appears as a true warrior, and certainly nothing really like Ares and his martial exploits. Aside from Marshaller of the Host, there is no title that refers to Apollon as a warrior, though like his twin he is called “hunter”. So whether the case is being made for an association with Faunus or with Apollon this idea resonates well with what the author is pointing out here. And the Iliad while it shows that Apollon is an effective warrior the way he relates to war is quite different.

This is then followed by paragraphs that address associations of Faunus with prophecy, poetry, singing (particularly military singing), and victorious singing…all of which is similarly part of the domain of Apollon, and by extension his Corybantes. The point is that I don’t disagree with the author of the similarities expressed here, however I do reject the following statement due to the sheer ignorance with which Apollon is treated here, especially given that I consider Faunus to be the bridge that really gives a considerable link between Apollon and Mars in that some academia has explored, and to be of greater relationship to Apollon than any other Roman deity to be quite frank. Therefore I find this final line to entirely miss a large part of Apollon’s functions in his domain and as visible from his cult worship and myth. Faunus does match well, but so does Apollon and in several cases he appears to match better.

“Finally, while Rudra’s connection to Apollo has often been observed based only on their healing aspect and their destructive nature, associated with the picture of the bow (West 2007: 148), this essay demonstrates a more probable Roman parallel to this Vedic deity”

for the full article I have torn apart, you can view it here: http://www.academia.edu/433103/Rudra-Shiva_and_Silvanus-Faunus_Savage_and_Propitious



One thought on “Apollon and Rudra

  1. At the moment I am reading a book about Apollon Smintheus and his connection to Rudra as a mouse god (later this aspect shifts to Shiva and Ganesha). It’s in German and very old but maybe you are interested in raeding (and able to translate) it. It’s by Josef Virgil Grohmann. “Apollo Smintheus und die Bedeutung der Mäuse in der Mythologie der Indogermanen”. It’s available for free via Google Books.

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