How Apollo Got his Lyre

How Apollo Got his Lyre

When Hermes, the messenger of Zeus, was born, the first thing he did was invent the lyre. He spotted a tortoise and decided to make a musical instrument from its shell. Indeed, the lyre played beautiful music.

Next, Hermes went to Apollo's pastures where Apollo's cattle were sleeping. Hermes stole fifty heifers and on his return trip, he threw his baby shoes into the ocean so no one could trace his tracks. He rode the cattle up and down a hill, until you couldn't tell which way the cattle were going. Hermes then led the cattle into a cave and shut them in there. No one saw the theft of the cattle except for one of Apollo's herdsmen, who swore he would tell no one.

When Apollo discovered fifty of his cattle missing, he was outraged. He asked the herdsman whom had witnessed the theft if he knew in which direction the robber went, and the herdsman, unable to keep his secret, told Apollo about the whole incident.

Apollo was furious so he brought Hermes in front of Zeus and demanded to have his cattle back. Pretending to act like a normal baby, Hermes said that he did not know what cattle were. However, Zeus and the other gods did not believe him, so Hermes finally had to return the cattle to Apollo.

Apollo noticed that Hermes was carrying a beautiful musical instrument, and when he heard Hermes play it, he was enchanted. He offered to trade him the lyre for his fifty cattle. Now Hermes was a herdsman and he invented a musical instrument, a shepherd's pipe, for herding his cattle. Once again, Apollo was fascinated with Hermes' new invention and decided to trade his golden wand, the Caduceus, for Hermes' shepherd's pipe. The Caduceus had power over sleep, dreams, wealth, and happiness. Apollo became known for the beautiful music he played with the lyre and became god of music.

Go Back to Myths Pertaining to Apollo