The Delian hymn describes how Leto, in travail with Apollo, sought out a place in which to bear her son, and how Apollo, born in Delos, at once claimed for himself the lyre, the bow, and prophecy.
The Delian part is exclusively Ionian and insular both in style and sympathy; Delos and no other is Apollo's chosen seat: but the second part is as definitely continental; Delos is ignored and Delphi alone is the important centre of Apollo's worship.
First the new-born child found a tortoise and from its shell contrived the lyre; next, with much cunning circumstance, he stole Apollo's cattle and, when charged with the theft by Apollo, forced that god to appear in undignified guise before the tribunal of Zeus.
Not a word he spoke, but went by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo whom lovely Leto had borne.
Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some vow that we have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered, and whether he will accept the savour of lambs and goats without blemish, so as to take away the plague from us."
He it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to Ilius, through the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had inspired him.
Father Brown could not look at anything without blinking; but the priest of Apollo could look on the blaze at noon without a quiver of the eyelid.
Two figures remained still after the crash of commotion: the fair priest of Apollo on the balcony above, and the ugly priest of Christ below him.
The first was Joan Stacey, the sister of the dead woman--evidently she had been upstairs in the temporary temple of Apollo; the second was the priest of Apollo himself, his litany finished, sweeping down the empty stairs in utter magnificence--something in his white robes, beard and parted hair had the look of Dore's Christ leaving the Pretorium; the third was Flambeau, black browed and somewhat bewildered.
"It was while I gave you that kiss, up above, under Apollo
's lyre," she said.
Earth-encircling Neptune came, and Mercury the bringer of luck, and King Apollo, but the goddesses staid at home all of them for shame.
Thus did they converse, but King Apollo said to Mercury, "Messenger Mercury, giver of good things, you would not care how strong the chains were, would you, if you could sleep with Venus?"