Roman Mythology

Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

Bulfinch's Age of Fable

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The slime with which the earth was covered by the waters of the flood produced an excessive fertility, which called forth every variety of production, both bad and good. Among the rest, Python, an enormous serpent, crept forth, the terror of the people, and lurked in the caves of Mount Parnassus. Apollo slew him with his arrows--weapons which he had not before used against any but feeble animals, hares, wild goats, and such game. In commemoration of this illustrious conquest he instituted the Pythian games, in which the victor in feats of strength, swiftness of foot, or in the chariot race was crowned with a wreath of beech leaves; for the laurel was not yet adopted by Apollo as his own tree.

The famous statue of Apollo called the Belvedere represents the god after this victory over the serpent Python. To this Byron alludes in his "Childe Harold," iv., 161:

"... The lord of the unerring bow, The god of life, and poetry, and light, The Sun, in human limbs arrayed, and brow All radiant from his triumph in the fight The shaft has just been shot; the arrow bright With an immortal's vengeance; in his eye And nostril, beautiful disdain, and might And majesty flash their full lightnings by, Developing in that one glance the Deity."

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