Not particularly Homeric

I know among modern Hellenic polytheists there is this love affair with Hellenic religion as it was practiced in Athens and the works of Homer and Hesiod. I certainly like their work myself but am not particularly inclined to rely on it in primary when it comes to my worship of the gods. This is largely because I favor Sparta and other Doric states myself. 

In fact outside of Ionian literature, we find a fascinating tapestry of familiar gods appearing in very different ways. This is the land where we likely find the strongest presence of a possibly earlier and definitely more divergent Apollon from the commonly understood son of Zeus. Here Apollon as herder and Lord of the destroying force of nature and lawkeeper is a startling contrast. Via the Spartan colony in Crete we have Apollon with the labrys as god who punishes adulterers. We see throughot Doric lands Karneios with herding staff and pine cone. Also from the colony at Crete is where we here of what may have been the Doric understanding of Apollon’s parentage. Not as son of Zeus but son of the black dragon Corybas, who took this form in punishment by Zeus as myth tells us for trying to violate Rhea if memory serves me correctly.

Corybas himself was the son of Samothrakian Demeter (aka Rhea or Cybele) and the Corybantes named after him as those who give up praise to his mother and were the children of his son Apollon who led them. This may have inspired the mystery cult of Demeter in which Iakkhos bears identity of Apollon but as her son directly and leader of the initiates as Diodorus relates to us through his Egyptian style lens of the mysteries. 

This Apollon thus would have preceeded Zeus and have legitimate reason in challenging Zeus for the right to rule in Doric-Cretan myth. This may likewise bear some relationship to the Arkadian concept of Apollon and Pan as the original seasons of Apollon was of an older pre Olympian line before he became the son of Zeus.

I have often wondered how the relationship initially may have differed between Apollon and Artemis before they became Olympian twins. Certainly in Doric-Crete she is called not the daughter of Leto but the daughter of Hera who worked in company of her sister who midwived new babies into the world with Artemis as their divine nurse. As closely networked as Apollon and Artemis were I have to wonder if before they were brought in as twins if they may have been spousal deities as you commonly find in these kind of situations. Certainly Artemis’ s Doric cult seemed to be of a different bent than that if the Ionian Artemis, the latter with clear virginal boundaries than the other has. That Artemis’ sacred haunt where Adonis was slain is among the same mountain sacred to Apollon (and named for one of his sons) gives a distinct but meshed together view of cohabiting more or less. Of course the mysteries of Demeter says only that Leto was nurse to both…..meanwhile whereas Apollon may have been son by proxy via his hereditary relationship to the mysteries of Samothrakian Demeter, we have Artemis in the Peloponesse and at Eleusis as the daughter of Poseidon and Demeter: Despoina.  If the mystery writing of Diodoros be given any credit Artemis may have been considered wet nursed by Leto.To make it more interesting Pausanias tells us that in the temple of Hera that Artemis and Apollon are grouped with Demeter and Persephone in the hall.

This all has far more significant impact on my relationship with Apollon, Artemis and Leto than the Homeric and Hesiodic recountings of the Ionic system and view of the Olympians…which was far from uniform!


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