Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis11-05-2013 17:17Leto (or Latona) was the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe and the mother of two of the Olympian Gods, Apollo and Artemis, children of Zeus. Leto, though, met difficulties to find a place to give birth to the twins as Hera persecuted her wherever she went.
Leto is said to had visited many lands, from Crete and Athens to Lemnos and Naxos and all of them turned her away for fear of becoming the birthplace of her son Apollo. Hera had already sent her son Ares and the goddess Iris to warn every place in the Greek world not to receive her husband’s mistress. Eventually, the poor rocky island of Delos, accepted Leto to come and give birth there by promising that her son Apollo would establish his main sanctuary there and that he would honour Delos above all other places.
Hera after having failed in keeping Leto out of finding a place to give birth, she then kept Eileithuia, the goddess of childbirth, with her on Mount Olympus. As a consequence, Leto suffered the pains of travail for nine days and nights without relief, until the other goddesses sent Iris, the divine messenger to call her by the promise of a splendid golden necklace. Eileithuia soon arrived and Leto was at last able to give birth first to Artemis and then, with her daughter’s help, to Apollo.
According to Delian legend, two maidens called Hyperoche and Laodike arrived from the land of the Hyperboreans (mythical people of the remote north) soon after the birth of Artemis and Apollo, bringing gifts to Leto. Hyperboreans had vowed to Eileithuia, the goddess of childbirth to ensure Leto of an easy delivery.
Leto during her pregnancy had been threatened of death by Python, a mighty snake-form dragon, to prevent her from giving birth to her divine twins. Apollo just four days after his birth travelled to Delphi, where Python used to live and killed the dragon out of revenge. This is how Apollo got his chthonian prophetic powers and dominated the Oracle of Delphi.
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