Zeus and the goddess Leto, daughter of Titans Coeus and Phoebe, bore two children who would rise up to take a place in the Olympic pantheon. The twins were named Apollo and Artemis, and their arrival in the world was not so simple.
Hera, wife of Zeus, was insanely jealous of Leto and sought to prevent the birth of Leto’s two children. She antagonized Leto and sent a serpent to terrorize the goddess and stop her from finding a place to bear her children. It was the goddess Asteria who offered refuge to her sister on the island of Ortygia and there that Leto bore Artemis and Apollo.
Artermis was born first and immediately set about assisting her mother through the nine days of labor she endured to deliver her son Apollo. Leto’s aunt, Themis, acted as caretaker to the twins, feeding them ambrosia and nectar, the food of the gods.
Apollo and Artemis loved their mother deeply and protected the safety and honor of their mother. On tale of Greek mythology tells how Artemis and Apollo prevented Leto from being raped by Titus in the grove of Delphi. Called by their mother, they attached the giant Titus with their arrows which rained down upon him and killed him in an instant. Zeus was outraged by Titus’ actions and consigned him to Hades.
Another myth tells the story of how Artemis and Apollo killed all of the goddess Niobe’s children when she boasted of her own children’s superior beauty, insulting Leto. Though it’s unclear if this was a defense of their mother or motivated by their own outrage.
At a young age, Artemis was told by Zeus to name the gifts that she desired. Artemis chose a bow and arrow, free reign of the mountains, a city to dwell in and eternal virginity. Zeus granted all these wishes. Artemis would come to be viewed as the virgin goddess of the hunt and wildlife. She was also seen as a protector figure of women in childbirth.
Apollo would become the god of archery, healing, music and youth. Greek mythology tells how Apollo took up the bow created for him by Hephaestus and pursued the serpent into Delphi where he killed it. Gaia was incensed at having her shrine, where the Oracle of Delphi resided, desecrated. Apollo was not punished for his crime and in time became the god of Prophecy, and the Oracle of Delphi became the Oracle of Apollo.
He would also become an influential god of music whose musicianship was unparalleled. Many challenged Apollo to contests of musical prowess, but all failed to best the god.
Apollo never married though he was definitely not an immortal virgin. He fathered more than a dozen children with many women both goddesses and mortals alike.
The twin god and goddess, Apollo and Artemis, were forever connected in Greek mythology. They are both expert archers and hunters who often enjoyed hunting together. They shared the capability of subjecting mortals to plague and pestilence as well.