Sminthean Apollo

MOUSE INTERRUPTED

1 Temple of Apollo SmintheusIn the Iliad Homer called the “God with the silver bow/ protector of Chryse” Sminthean Apollo, which has been translated as Mouse Apollo and as Apollo, the Lord of the Mice. Afterward, give or take a hundred or a few hundred years, images of the god with a small rodent began floating about; the twosome showed up sometimes on money and sometimes in stone. One coin showed Apollo with the mouse under his chin; another showed the mouse sitting on the palm of his outstretched hand. A certain Scopas of Paros was said to have carved a statue of Apollo with the mouse lying under his foot (no longer extant). And in the Troad (the Biga peninsula of Turkey today) the Temple of Apollo Smintheus had been rumored to have white mice living under its altar; tales circulated that the people had given the creatures food and water “at the public expense.” The mice were sacred…

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