Apollo, the Greek god of many things including music, truth and prophecy, was considered to be very handsome and had numerous romantic affairs. Many gods, goddesses, nymphs and mortals fell in love with Apollo over the course of Greek mythology. Apollo did not always return their affections, as he was known for being fickle in love. Let’s explore some of the figures who developed feelings for this charming Olympian and how Apollo responded to their advances.
Goddesses in love with Apollo
Several goddesses were smitten with Apollo and pursued him relentlessly.
One goddess who fell for Apollo was Daphne. Apollo mocked the god of love, Eros, for using arrows, causing Eros to shoot Apollo with an arrow that caused Apollo to fall instantly in love with Daphne. However, Eros also shot Daphne with an arrow to make her hate Apollo. When Apollo pursued her, Daphne asked her father, the river god Peneus, for help. He turned her into a laurel tree to protect her. So while Apollo loved Daphne, she did not return his affections.
Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, was a sworn virgin goddess devoted to the hunt. However, there are some accounts that she may have had romantic feelings for her brother early on. When Apollo was young, he is said to have sought Artemis for her hand in marriage. But this union did not come to be, perhaps because of their close familial relationship as twins.
The goddess Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy, also fell in love with Apollo. He gave her the gift of prophecy in order to seduce her, but when she spurned his advances, he cursed her so that nobody would believe her prophecies. So while Cassandra loved Apollo, he did not return the feeling once she rejected him.
Nymphs in love with Apollo
In Greek mythology, nymphs were minor female deities associated with natural features like mountains, rivers and trees. Many nymphs became enamored with the handsome Apollo.
Cyrene was a Thessalian nymph who Apollo fell for after seeing her wrestle a lion. He took her to Libya and she bore him a son named Aristaeus. For once, Apollo’s affection was reciprocated.
When Apollo’s son Asclepius, god of medicine, was killed by Zeus, Apollo retaliated by killing the Cyclopes who forged Zeus’s lightning bolts. As punishment, Apollo was made to serve Admetus, the king of Thessaly, for one year. While there, Apollo worked as a shepherd and came to love the nymph Admetus, who bore him a son.
The Cretan princess and nymph Britomartis was loved by the god Minos, who pursued her relentlessly. She leapt into the sea to escape him and was caught in fishermen’s nets. Apollo made her into an immortal nymph and put her in the sky as the constellation Virgo. There are different versions – one is that she accepted Apollo’s love and bore him children.
Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, and Apollo had a romantic relationship that produced several musical sons, including Orpheus, Linus and Hymenaeus. The couple seemed to have mutual affection and Calliope was with Apollo at the delivery of his son Asclepius.
Overall, the nymphs seemed to reciprocate Apollo’s advances more than the goddesses.
Mortal Women in Love with Apollo
Apollo had affairs with many mortal women as well, both consensual and not. One of his consorts was Coronis, who bore him a son named Asclepius. When she was unfaithful to him, Apollo killed her in a rage.
Cassandra was not Apollo’s only Trojan lover. He also seduced princess Hecuba and she bore his son Troilius.
The princess Creusa of Athens bore Apollo a son named Ion but he later abandoned her.
Rhodope and Coronis were Thessalian princesses who posed as two of the goddess Athena’s attendants but were killed by Apollo for their hubris.
Apollo’s mortal loves often ended tragically, either at his own hands or indirectly because of his actions. He did not always take responsibility for the children he fathered with mortal women.
Mortal Men in Love with Apollo
Though Apollo’s lovers were primarily female, there were a few male mortal lovers as well:
Hyacinthus was a very handsome Spartan prince that both Apollo and Zephyrus loved. One day while Hyacinthus and Apollo were playing a game Apollo had invented, Zephyrus blew the discus off course in jealousy, fatally striking Hyacinthus. The hyacinth flower sprung from the blood of the dying prince.
Another story is of Apollo’s passionate love for Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. The beautiful young man accidentally killed Apollo’s sacred stag. Stricken with grief, Cyparissus asked to weep forever, so Apollo transformed him into the cypress tree.
So Apollo had affairs with both men and women, mortal and divine, though his male lovers were far fewer. He was passionate but fickle when it came to romance.
His Love Children
Apollo fathered many children with his divine and mortal lovers. Here is a table summarizing some of his main love children:
|Orpheus, Linus, Hymenaeus
Let’s look at how Apollo’s divine consorts differed from his mortal ones:
Apollo’s divine lovers were often nymphs and muses who found inspiration in music and poetry just as he did. The mortal women were royal, either princesses or daughters of kings, reflecting Apollo’s divine royal status. His mortal male lovers were beautiful young princes. So Apollo was often drawn to those of high birth who were exceptional in some talent, divine or otherwise.
His Personality in Love
Based on his mythological love stories, Apollo displayed certain personality traits as a lover:
- Passionate – He fell quickly and intensely in love
- Temperamental – His moods changed rapidly, leading him to harm past lovers
- Fickle – He lost interest fairly quickly and abandoned many of his loves
- Charming – With his looks and talents, he seduced many lovers successfully
- Selfish – He often simply took who he wanted without considering their desires
- Vengeful – Apollo could kill past lovers if they spurned him or he lost interest
So in summation, Apollo was a very passionate yet moody and self-focused lover. When jilted he could become angry and harm the object of his former affection. He preferred brief intense affairs over long lasting partnerships.
Apollo, the handsome and talented Olympian god, had romantic relationships with numerous gods, nymphs and mortals throughout Greek myths. Though many fell deeply in love with him, he was generally fickle and unpredictable in affairs of the heart. Apollo’s divine lovers such as Calliope reciprocated his feelings more fully, while his mortal lovers often suffered from his wrath or indifference in the end. His dramatic love life makes for captivating stories, but Apollo likely left many broken hearts in his wake. In the final analysis, as a lover Apollo lived up to his godly epithet of “the untamable.”