Solar Apollo with the radiant halo of Helios in a Roman floor mosaic, El Djem, Tunisia, late 2nd century

Helios-Apollo with the radiant halo of Helios in a Roman floor mosaic, El Djem, Tunisia, late 2nd century.

The gods and goddesses of the Greeks could be called by an infinite amount of epithets that presented their various functions and honors. The epithet of the deity attached a certain function to a certain god, and thereby its use in ritual established a link between the worshiper and the god relating to the named function. Therefore, in attempts at communication with the divine, epithets were used as precision tools: a suitable epithet would ensure that a prayer or promise reached just the right aspect of the intended recipient.

The related question of whether a god, through the use of a byname, in fact becomes a “new” and separate divinity, or whether on the contrary a collection of all epithets given to a certain god rather creates his or her unified identity, is likewise a vexed one. Discussions end unsolved, but often with the consolation that the ancient Greeks themselves apparently did not have a problem with a myriad of apollos co-existing with the great god Apollo.

Apollo’s chief epithet was Phoebus (in Greek Φοῖβος, literally «bright»). It was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans for Apollo’s role as the god of light. Like other Greek deities, he had a number of others applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few occur in Latin literature.

Apollo of the Belvedere - Apollo's epithets - theDelphiGuide.com

Apollo of the Belvedere. Roman copy of Hadrianic date (ca. 120–140) of a lost bronze original made between 350 and 325 BC by the Greek sculptor Leochares.

Apollo’s epithets related to the Sun

  • Aegletes (Αἰγλήτης, Aiglētēs), from αἴγλη (aigli), «light of the sun»

  • Helius (/ˈhiːliəs/ HEE-lee-əs; Ἥλιος, Helios), literally «sun»

  • Lyceus (/laɪˈsiːəs/ ly-SEE-əs; Λύκειος, Lykeios, from Proto-Greek *λύκη) «light». The meaning of the epithet «Lyceus» later became associated with Apollo’s mother Leto, who was the patron goddess of Lycia (Λυκία) and who was identified with the wolf (λύκος).

  • Phanaeus (/fəˈniːəs/ fə-NEE-əs; Φαναῖος, Phanaios), literally «giving or bringing light»

  • Phoebus (/ˈfiːbəs/ FEE-bəs; Φοῖβος, Phoibos), literally «bright», his most commonly used epithet by both the Greeks and Romans

  • Sol (Roman) (/sɒl/), «sun» in Latin

Apollo’s epithets related to Wolf

  • Lycegenes (/laɪˈsɛdʒəniːz/ ly-SEJ-ən-eez; Λυκηγενής, Lukēgenēs), literally «born of a wolf» or «born of Lycia»

  • Lycoctonus (/laɪˈkɒktənəs/ ly-KOK-tə-nəs; Λυκοκτόνος, Lykoktonos), from λύκος, «wolf», and κτείνειν, «to kill»

Apollo’s epithets related to his origin and birth

Apollo’s birthplace was Mount Cynthus on the island of Delos.

  • Cynthius (/ˈsɪnθiəs/ SIN-thee-əs; Κύνθιος, Kunthios), literally «Cynthian»

  • Cynthogenes (/sɪnˈθɒdʒɪniːz/ sin-THOJ-i-neez; Κυνθογενής, Kynthogenēs), literally «born of Cynthus»

  • Delius (/ˈdiːliəs/ DEE-lee-əs; Δήλιος, Delios), literally «Delian»

  • Didymaeus (/dɪdɪˈmiːəs/ did-i-MEE-əs; Διδυμαῖος, Didymaios) from δίδυμος, «twin») as Artemis’ twin

Apollo’s epithets related to the place of worship

    Delphi was his primary places of worship.

  • Acraephius (/əˈkriːfiəs/ ə-KREE-fee-əs; Ἀκραίφιος,[clarification needed] Akraiphios, literally «Acraephian») or Acraephiaeus (/əˌkriːfiˈiːəs/ ə-KREE-fee-EE-əs; Ἀκραιφιαίος, Akraiphiaios), «Acraephian», from the Boeotian town of Acraephia (Ἀκραιφία), reputedly founded by his son Acraepheus.

  • Actiacus (/ækˈtaɪ.əkəs/ ak-TY-ə-kəs; Ἄκτιακός, Aktiakos), literally «Actian», after Actium (Ἄκτιον)

  • Delphinius (/dɛlˈfɪniəs/ del-FIN-ee-əs; Δελφίνιος, Delphinios), literally «Delphic», after Delphi (Δελφοί). An etiology in the Homeric Hymns associated this with dolphins.

  • Epactaeus, meaning «god worshipped on the coast», in Samos.

  • Pythius (/ˈpɪθiəs/ PITH-ee-əs; Πύθιος, Puthios, from Πυθώ, Pythō), from the region around Delphi

  • Smintheus (/ˈsmɪnθjuːs/ SMIN-thewss; Σμινθεύς, Smintheus), «Sminthian» —that is, «of the town of Sminthos or Sminthe» near the Troad town of Hamaxitus

Apollo’s epithets related to healing and disease

  • Acesius (/əˈsiːʒəs/ ə-SEE-zhəs; Ἀκέσιος, Akesios), from ἄκεσις, «healing». Acesius was the epithet of Apollo worshipped in Elis, where he had a temple in the agora.

  • Acestor (/əˈsɛstər/ ə-SES-tər; Ἀκέστωρ, Akestōr), literally «healer»

  • Culicarius (Roman) (/ˌkjuːlɪˈkæriəs/ KEW-li-KARR-ee-əs), from Latin culicārius, «of midges»

  • Iatrus (/aɪˈætrəs/ eye-AT-rəs; Ἰατρός, Iātros), literally «physician»

  • Medicus (Roman) (/ˈmɛdɪkəs/ MED-i-kəs), «physician» in Latin. A temple was dedicated to Apollo Medicus at Rome, probably next to the temple of Bellona.

  • Paean (/ˈpiːən/ PEE-ən; Παιάν, Paiān),physician, healer

  • Parnopius (/pɑːrˈnoʊpiəs/ par-NOH-pee-əs; Παρνόπιος, Parnopios), from πάρνοψ, «locust»

Apollo’s epithets as Founder and protector

  • Agyieus (/əˈdʒaɪ.ɪjuːs/ ə-JY-i-yooss; Ἀγυιεύς, Aguīeus), from ἄγυια, «street», for his role in protecting roads and homes

  • Alexicacus (/əˌlɛksɪˈkeɪkəs/ ə-LEK-si-KAY-kəs; Ἀλεξίκακος, Alexikakos), literally «warding off evil»

  • Apotropaeus (/əˌpɒtrəˈpiːəs/ ə-POT-rə-PEE-əs; Ἀποτρόπαιος, Apotropaios), from ἀποτρέπειν, «to avert»

  • Archegetes (/ɑːrˈkɛdʒətiːz/ ar-KEJ-ə-teez; Ἀρχηγέτης, Arkhēgetēs), literally «founder»

  • Averruncus (Roman) (/ˌævəˈrʌŋkəs/ AV-ə-RUNG-kəs; from Latin āverruncare), «to avert»

  • Clarius (/ˈklæriəs/ KLARR-ee-əs; Κλάριος, Klārios), from Doric κλάρος, «allotted lot»

  • Epicurius (/ˌɛpɪˈkjʊəriəs/ EP-i-KEWR-ee-əs; Ἐπικούριος, Epikourios), from ἐπικουρέειν, «to aid»

  • Genetor (/ˈdʒɛnɪtər/ JEN-i-tər; Γενέτωρ, Genetōr), literally «ancestor»

  • Nomius (/ˈnoʊmiəs/ NOH-mee-əs; Νόμιος, Nomios), literally «pastoral»

  • Nymphegetes (/nɪmˈfɛdʒɪtiːz/ nim-FEJ-i-teez; Νυμφηγέτης, Numphēgetēs), from Νύμφη, «Nymph», and ἡγέτης, «leader», for his role as a protector of shepherds and pastoral life

Apollo’s epithets related to prophecy and truth

  • Coelispex (Roman) (/ˈsɛlɪspɛks/ SEL-i-speks), from Latin coelum, «sky», and specere «to look at»

  • Iatromantis (/aɪˌætrəˈmæntɪs/ eye-AT-rə-MAN-tis; Ἰατρομάντις, Iātromantis,) from ἰατρός, «physician», and μάντις, «prophet», referring to his role as a god both of healing and of prophecy

  • Leschenorius (/ˌlɛskɪˈnɔːriəs/ LES-ki-NOR-ee-əs; Λεσχηνόριος, Leskhēnorios), from λεσχήνωρ, «converser»

  • Loxias (/ˈlɒksiəs/ LOK-see-əs; Λοξίας, Loxias), from λέγειν, «to say», historically associated with λοξός, «ambiguous»

  • Manticus (/ˈmæntɪkəs/ MAN-ti-kəs; Μαντικός, Mantikos), literally «prophetic»

Apollo’s epithets related to Music and arts

  • Musagetes (/mjuːˈsædʒɪtiːz/ mew-SAJ-i-teez; Doric Μουσαγέτας, Mousāgetās), from Μούσα, «Muse», and ἡγέτης «leader»

  • Musegetes (/mjuːˈsɛdʒɪtiːz/ mew-SEJ-i-teez; Μουσηγέτης, Mousēgetēs), as the preceding

Apollo’s epithets as Archer

  • Aphetor (/əˈfiːtər/ ə-FEE-tər; Ἀφήτωρ, Aphētōr), from ἀφίημι, «to let loose»

  • Aphetorus (/əˈfɛtərəs/ ə-FET-ər-əs; Ἀφητόρος, Aphētoros), as the preceding

  • Arcitenens (Roman) (/ɑːrˈtɪsɪnənz/ ar-TISS-i-nənz), literally «bow-carrying»

  • Argyrotoxus (/ˌɑːrdʒərəˈtɒksəs/ AR-jər-ə-TOK-səs; Ἀργυρότοξος, Argyrotoxos), literally «with silver bow»

  • Hecaërgus (/ˌhɛkiˈɜːrɡəs/ HEK-ee-UR-gəs; Ἑκάεργος, Hekaergos), literally «far-shooting»

  • Hecebolus (/hɪˈsɛbələs/ hi-SEB-əl-əs; Ἑκηβόλος, Hekēbolos), «far-shooting»

  • Ismenius (/ɪzˈmiːniəs/ iz-MEE-nee-əs; Ἰσμηνιός, Ismēnios), literally «of Ismenus», after Ismenus, the son of Amphion and Niobe, whom he struck with an arrow

Celtic epithets and cult titles of Apollo

Apollo was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. In the traditionally Celtic lands he was most often seen as a healing and sun god. He was often equated with Celtic gods of similar character.

  • Apollo Atepomarus («the great horseman» or «possessing a great horse»). Apollo was worshipped at Mauvières (Indre). Horses were, in the Celtic world, closely linked to the sun.

  • Apollo Belenus (‘bright’ or ‘brilliant’). This epithet was given to Apollo in parts of Gaul, Northern Italy and Noricum (part of modern Austria). Apollo Belenus was a healing and sun god.

  • Apollo Cunomaglus (‘hound lord’). A title given to Apollo at a shrine at Nettleton Shrub, Wiltshire. May have been a god of healing. Cunomaglus himself may originally have been an independent healing god.

  • Apollo Grannus. Grannus was a healing spring god, later equated with Apollo.

  • Apollo Maponus. A god known from inscriptions in Britain. This may be a local fusion of Apollo and Maponus.

  • Apollo Moritasgus (‘masses of sea water’). An epithet for Apollo at Alesia, where he was worshipped as god of healing and, possibly, of physicians.

  • Apollo Vindonnus (‘clear light’). Apollo Vindonnus had a temple at Essarois, near Châtillon-sur-Seine in present-day Burgundy. He was a god of healing, especially of the eyes.

  • Apollo Virotutis (‘benefactor of mankind’). Apollo Virotutis was worshipped, among other places, at Fins d’Annecy (Haute-Savoie) and at Jublains (Maine-et-Loire).


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