Page:Essays and Addresses.djvu/217
isle: the whole spirit of this later poem is one of mature reconciliation between the claims of conflicting worships. (3) In the Homeric hymn, the solar character of Apollo is seen through a transparent disguise of imagery: this radiant god who is rising on the world is swathed in white and finely woven raiment; his girdle is of gold In the Alexandrian hymn this origin has been obscured under the symbolism of a learned theology; if any one aspect of the god predominates, it is the prophetic. But the leading idea of both hymns is the same:—Delos shall be for ever precious to Apollo as the place of his birth.
The "birthplace" of a god is the place where his votaries, or their informants, have first known his worship. In the case of Apollo, this place was, for the Greeks of the Asiatic seaboard, Lycia; for the Greeks of the Aegean and of the western coast, Delos. Delos was the point at which this worship, brought from Asia, first became conspicuous and familiar to this group of votaries. Other groups had other traditions: for the Cretans, Apollo was born in Crete; for the Boeotians, in Boeotia; for the Arcadians, in Arcadia. But, with regard to these three latter traditions, it may be remarked that every one of them belongs to a population detached, in the historical age, from the main current of Greek beliefs and sympathies. The tradition which placed the birth of Apollo in Delos was the most widely received: indeed, its acceptance was well-nigh
- Hom. Hymn. Apoll. 121.