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Apollo’s arrows are as deadly as they are stealthy; sudden and unexpected death is their doing – the arrow that suddenly strikes from afar is an apt image for a sudden epidemic whose results are as terrible as its causes are unexplained. Already in Bronze Age narrations of the Eastern Mediterranean, we hear that a god is spreading a plague with his arrows. Reshep, the god of plague in the pantheon of Bronze Age Syria, shoots his arrows to send the “fires of illness”; on Cyprus where he was worshipped as well, he was identified with Apollo.

Apollo, amused and annoyed at the same time, has an easy answer. ). Delphi’s temple economy needs neither maritime business ventures nor the toil of farming; whoever approaches the god for an oracle first has to sacrifice a sheep, and priests, as we know, get their share of meat and hide. The god is not only a fast marksman and excellent architect but also a clever religious entrepreneur; there is a reason why he chose merchants as his priests in Delphi. It was Christ, not Apollo, who drove the moneychangers out of the temple.

Thus, the sanctuary is more than the simple grove we hear of in Ithaca: besides the altar that could be enough to define a sanctuary, it had a (presumably wooden) temple with a thatched roof, and it had a priest of some standing and power. The Homeric epic does not mention many priests; besides Chryses, there is Theano, the priestess of Athena in Troy (Il. 6. 299), and there is Maron, the priest of Apollo in Thracian Ismaros who is living “in the sacred grove rich with trees,” and who gave Odysseus the wine that would be instrumental to his escape from the Cyclops Polyphemus (Od.

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