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I think I am your Lord Apollo, God of the Sun!
~ Apollo to Neal

Apollo is the ancient Greek god of the Sun, a prideful, spiteful, arrogant, pompous overlord of Olympus, and he is the main antagonist of the dark fantasy novel Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips.

In the 2013 film, he was portrayed in by Oliver Platt, who also played the High Priest in Year One.

History

Ancient times

Apollo was highly revered and respected amongst humans, and mainly lusted after them. In return, they lusted after his powers, and his good looks. He was worshipped in many a temple throughout the ancient world, and when a nymph named Daphne scorned him, her father turned her into a tree to protect her from Apollo's wrath, thus unintentionally provoking Apollo to do the same to countless human women he met down the centuries.

Suddenly, a new religion emerged on the scene: Christianity, and the Greek gods were depowered, and gradually started losing their followers and their temples got desecrated and laid bare for mortals. Depressed, the Olympians retreated from a dying Greece to the thriving city of London.

Modern Times

Circa 2006, Apollo is in the park lusting after mortal girls when suddenly one named Kate who he attempts to rape scorns him, and he turns her into a tree through his diabolical black magic. He is so evil he has no recollection of her after this, and Kate grows despondent, being comforted somewhat by Artemis, goddess of chastity, who is horrified when she later realises Kate was felled and thus murdered, but Apollo is like "Kate who?" and this upsets Artemis.

Apollo is disgusting; he takes pleasure in "fucking Aphrodite" his own sister, in the bathroom, of all places, when he is not lusting after other women. Apollo also brags about his misdeeds to Aphrodite, making her recreate sexual acts Apollo saw at Dionysus' nightclub. Also, Apollo is harbouring secret ambitions to overthrow his own father, Zeus, and conquer the Olympians.

When a cleaner named Alice knocks on the gods' door, turning their lives upside down because no human is ever meant to approach their flat, Apollo is attracted to her the moment he sees her live in his TV show audience the previous day. He recognizes her as she enters the flat, and, having fallen madly in love with her, he tries to woo her - they do kiss after Alice's on/off boyfriend Neale storms out in a fit of rage upon seeing them together; but Apollo disturbingly asks Alice if she wants to be raped, to which she gets so traumatised she flees the scene and doesn't speak for days.

She goes round to Neale's flat, and stays in bed, shellshocked.

Eventually, Neale convinces Alice to go to the park with him to talk things over; but Apollo - who in the meantime had put his evil plan into action and told Hera the gods were against her; prompting a rebellion; and also told a weak, old Zeus that there was a human who had visited the house. Zeus got mad, and regained his strength, hurling lightning into the park where Neale and Alice were. Zeus' lightning bolt, (secretly guided by the malevolent Apollo) struck Alice, and tragically killed her.

Now, it was Neale who was shellshocked, and he stayed in bed, and barely ate. He eventually got himself together after a few days, and went outside to eat. When he did, he saw a paper, showing "Madman in suicide attempt" which had Zeus standing triumphantly over the flat, apparently in a suicidal pose, but Neale noticed it was the flat Alice had cleaned.

Feeling guilty about Alice's death, as he reasoned that as he unintentionally got her sacked from work, and this may have contributed to this disastrous of all outcomes, Neale was visited by Apollo in the midst of his getting his life back on track. Apollo had chatted to his nephew Eros, who informed him that (given Eros was now a Christian) forgiveness was all that was needed to earn one's respect, Apollo visited a morose, angry Neale, and apologised for killing Alice. Shocked at the man's cheek, Neale aimed to punch him, and politely told him to leave before violence began. Apollo was too prideful to back down, and told Neale that Alice had worked for Greek gods. Neale was sure Apollo was a lunatic, and told him so. But Apollo proclaimed he was Lord Apollo, god of the Sun, and Neale said the only god Apollo was was god of his arse. Apollo then proved his divine nature to Neale by blotting out the Sun, crushing the Sun in the palm of his hand.

The whole world went black.

Next thing Artemis knew, Neale was on the phone to her, telling her that Apollo fell unconscious soon after causing the Sun to die. Because Apollo swore on Styx that he wouldn't squander his dying powers, and this betrayal of his divine oath caused Styx to turn on him and render him unconscious. Neale decided to save humanity and the world he'd head to Hades as a ghost and find Alice, also saving the world by bargaining with Hades, lord of the dead, to save the dying Earth.

Neale did find Styx, as Artemis, who had escorted him, battled the ferocious, frightening Cerberus. She succeeded in rendering him docile, and, taming him, headed to Hades' palace. Hades, who was about to devour Neale's soul, was interrupted by Alice's ghost, who had come to answer a summons from Hades. Alice was delighted to see Neale and they all broke into arguing about persuading Hades to save the world. Hades hated the world, and was prepared to let it go, because he would become more powerful in the next century as the world died by all souls he'd collect. Artemis said yes, but only for the next century - as no one would die any more; he would lose power. Artemis also said she wanted Alice returned to life as a decent cleaner was impossible to find in London nowadays. She was eventually able to convince Hades to let Neale and Alice walk out of the underworld, but not able to convince him to heal the planet Earth.

Alice had to walk behind her love on the way up to Earth. When they did finally arrive, Alice told Neale she loved him, being able to look at him finally. They had to restore people's faith in the old gods. Neale, who had previously been a sceptic, was the righteous person to restore faith. Artemis, then Neale, addressed the crowd, and, as the belief of the people grew strong, Alice was restored to her living body by Artemis.

Apollo lay on the ground, taken from his flat by Artemis, unconscious still, and without him it was going to be hard to restore the Sun and undo the damage he had maliciously wrought on the planet he once ruled.

The gods, through the power of belief from the human race, suddenly regenerated into much younger, fitter versions of themselves. Zeus regained his youthful power, and this prompted the delighted gods to hold hands, and restore the world to its youthful glow.

The Sun came out

Aftermath

Apollo was found to have learned his lesson, and been redeemed, but a bitter version of him may still remain. He was ironically invited by Alice to her and Neale's wedding, despite Neale's reminder of how Apollo tore apart their lives, Alice still wanted all the gods to attend, including Apollo.

Personality

Of course; its entirely what up to you what you do with this information. I wouldn't dream of influencing your decision in any way.
~ Apollo cunningly informing a gullible Zeus into killing Alice.

Apollo was a true deceiver; he was handsome, magnificent, strikingly sympathetic, and a devout practitioner of malevolent black magic. He presumably also could use white magic as well as black magic, but he preferred the more sinister kind of life. He had almost entirely given himself over to evil, being able to deceive his own father, the great god Zeus, who had tricked the ancient Titans, into squandering his power. Apollo had no remorse for his crimes; never being human, he never had any understanding of how the human mind worked. He didn't understand rape was wrong, even saying "Oh, so that's why they made it illegal" when Alice said that it did hurt and was evil. Threatening to rape Alice was his most evil act, beyond that of putting out the Sun. Apollo's most evil acts thus would be:

  • Threatening to rape Alice
  • Putting out the Sun and breaking his divine oath
  • Manipulating his father into killing a human
  • Turning an innocent woman into a tree so she could be felled
  • Plotting to rule the world
  • His incestuous relationship with Aphrodite
  • Misleading people into believing the Afterlife was a Christian notion through his psychic shows, when in reality it was dark and dismal

Apollo was a great antagonist - not great in that he was likeable or any such thing - but just because he was threatening, formidable, intimidating, bordering on omniscient and all-powerful. He put out the Sun just to put on a display of his power, not realising that in doing so he would squander what remained of his power, his soul and himself, and in doing so quite possibly endangering humanity. According to Artemis, he had only planned on doing this for a few minutes, to scare Neale, then flicking the Sun back on, restoring life back to normal. One would probably think Ares, god of war, would be the antagonist, but in fact it was a most unlikely candidate: The handsome Apollo, god of the Sun, lord of light and youth.

Note: In the book, Apollo is described as a handsome, beautiful, young man, with wavy blond hair and built like an athlete. In the film, Apollo is slightly chubby, with straight dark hair and not at all like an athlete.