The Greek god Apollo and his twin sister Artemis were born to Leto (a
Titan goddess who was impregnated by Zeus during one of his numerous
affairs. The birth of the twins was not an easy one, for their poor
mother Leto had been pursued throughout her pregnancy by a gigantic
serpent named Python and had never been allowed a moment’s rest. Going
into labor, she finally found a safe, secluded spot where she could
deliver. But after the birth of the first twin, Artemis, was born, Leto
was too exhausted to continue. Artemis, born just minutes earlier, had
to take control of the situation and become Leto’s midwife, helping her
mother safely deliver the infant Apollo.Zeus welcomed the twins by
giving them both silver bows and arrows, promising Artemis she would
never have to marry unless she wanted to, and giving Apollo a
magnificent golden chariot that was pulled by swans.
Apollo was destined to make his father proud of him. Following his
dramatic debut with the Python, Apollo went on to become, not only an
unerring archer, but the best musician (playing a lyre given to him by
his half-brother Hermes), poet, philosopher, law maker and creator of
legal institutions, a masterful physician, the god of prophecy, and a
great scholar who always spoke the truth.
Apollo’s skill and determination were evident at a very early age. When
he was only 4 days old, he took his bow and arrow and went out in search
of the snake that had tormented his mother during her pregnancy.
Finding the snake named Python, who was said to measure several acres in
length, he wounded her with his first shot.
The serpent crawled back to her cave in the city of Delphi, but the
infant Apollo followed her and this time succeeded in killing the snake
with his second shot. The citizens of Delphi were glad to be rid of her
and were grateful to Apollo - later Delphi was established as the center
of Apollo’s worship.
As it happened this was not just a regular snake that Apollo had killed -
it turns out that it happened to be the famed Oracle of Delphi, the
greatest prophet of all time. The Python lived in the cave and could
answer any question since she could see anything in the present or the
future. When she answered a question, her hiss would be interpreted by
the Pythian priestess and the answer relayed to the questioner.