LORD OF RATS
Apollo, lord of rats, oil painting on canvas, in creation, by painter Vanessa Foschi
Smintheus Apollo was invoked for the first time in Homeric Iliad book I by the priest Crise.
Polemon gave the following explanation of the origin of the Smintheus epithet (“Scholia palaia te, kai panu ophelima eis ten tou Omerou Iliada”, I, 8): in Crisa, a city of Misia in the Troad, there was a source sacred to Apollo.
The god, irate with local priest Criside for its covering, sent mice to his fields to ruin the crops. Afterwards, he was taken by the wish of reconciling with him; he went to Orde, the chief of the priest’s ministers and intendant to the consecrated oxen; the god was hospitably welcomed by him; so he promised the cessation of evils: immediately, he drew his silver, ghastly hissing bow and smote the rodents, roaming scourge; leaving, he bade Orde to explain his coming to Criside, imposing the unveiling of the source.
After the revelation Criside erected to the god a sanctuary next to the spring and named it Smintheion: because in the local dialect mice were called “sminthioi”.
According to others, cultual epiclesis “Sminthios” should be traced back to the following episode: the Cretans were sent by Apollo to establish a colony. During the journey they landed for a stop in Hellespont; the next morning, when they were ready to sail, they found that some mice, during the night, had cut the mooring ropes, chewing them; interpreting this as a divine sign they founded the city called Sminthia: in the Cretan language the mouse was also called Sminthos and the god had shielded the city with his protection (“Scholia palaia te, kai panu ophelima eis ten tou Omerou Iliada”, I, 8,9).
In the oil painting on canvas “Apollo Undefeated” by Vanessa Foschi the foot of Apollo lays on mice, as in the shrine of Apollo Smintheus in Ionia; here, as testified by Strabo, XIII, tame mice were fed and and worshipped, to propitiate the god; because Apollo can deploy and withdraw legions of rats as he wishes.
Technique oil on canvas. Painted by Vanessa Foschi. Written by Vanessa Foschi. All rights reserved
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