Sminthian Apollon

 The Mouse God

I missed my regular observance for the seventh last night, so this is my make-up assignment. The Prince will also receive a generous amount of delicious wine, which was recently gifted to me. Hail Apollon!


Sminthian Apollon. Is he the protector of mice, or the destroyer of mice (and are mice really just an obscure metaphor for mortals, in the overall view of his relationship toward us)? Does he cause, or does he repel the infestation? I say yes, yes and yes. Smintheus, the Plague-bearer, revealed to us in all his terrible glory in the Iliad, is the root cause of pestilence. While, as the Healer, the god is also in the ultimate position of control over its outcome. Mice are host to a range of diseases, but they are also instrumental in the development of modern medicine.

This seems to be a major focus of debate concerning the epithet. But, I wonder if perhaps we should look at it a bit differently. Perhaps the god is not merely a protector/destroyer of mice and mortals (which I believe he very much is), but perhaps our Lord Apollon is the Mouse.

Perhaps he comes into our lives in a very small, mouse-like way, almost an unnoticeable way.  Like a swift, dark shadow of movement in the periphery. Like the slight chill which travels up the spine, in consideration of what you think you saw, in that moment.

The Mouse will find some minuscule crack in your outer defenses. Just some small corner, tucked away in shadow. Then he’ll climb inside to explore all the inner spaces of your defensive constructs. But you can’t defend against him. There can be nothing hidden from the Mouse once he’s entered your house. And when he reaches the pantry, it’s all over.

There, the Mouse will get a taste of what you have to offer, all of your sustenance, all of your potential. He’ll learn if you have a sweet tooth, or if you prefer a more bitter flavor. He will embrace your whole palette, and he will multiply.

The Mouse will invade and pervade every crevice and hidden alcove. He will settle in and nest just beneath your range of vision. You’ll see the signs of his presence, and maybe you’ll think he’s just passing through, that he’s not inclined to stay. But you’d only be denying the Truth.

The Mouse will watch you, learning your habits, learning when to gnaw and when to hide. And in the quiet time of sleep, you may hear him in the distance, chewing away, carving a more suitable path for himself, through your walls and barriers.  Soon, they will become weak, crumble, and you will know that he has made your walls his home.

And that, my friends, is what I think of Sminthian Apollon, the Mouse.


4 responses to “Sminthian Apollon

  1. Pingback: Miscellanea « The House of Vines

  2. I really enjoyed your post, insightful and well written. I do love seeing others writing about Apollon, it is nice to not feel alone. I have to say that I am glad I found your blog, reading through It has inspired me to start sharing as well.

    Thank You

  3. I think the mouse is an interesting epithet of Apollon just because it is so varied. For instance mice as carries of disease I known now, especially following the Black Death as they were carriers of disease-bearing fleas. I am not sure how far back associations with mice as disease bearing creatures goes back. However it has often seemed to me from my own research that the mouse as a harvest destroying creature is quite pertinent to the ancient world, eating not only immature fruits but also stores of food (and a good reason for the domestication of the cat in some parts of the world, though I believe among the Hellenes the weasel was more popular if I remember correctly). This would also be quite valuable in understanding Apollon as a god whose light matures the fruits for harvest, and a god who can be as a blight. In Rhodes for instance we have Apollon Smintheus who destroys mice in the vineyards, and another manifestation of Apollon as a god of the barley rust which rots the grains. Somewhat related is Apollon as the locust god in other parts of Hellas. In any case I like these other observations of the mouse in association with the nature of Apollon :)