A surname of Apollo, the meaning of which is not quite certain, for some derive it from λύκος (lykos), a wolf, so that it would mean "the wolf-slayer;" others from λύκη (lykē), light, according to which it would mean "the giver of light;" and others again from the country of Lycia.
There are indeed passages in the ancient writers by which each of these three derivations may be satisfactorily proved. As for the derivation from Lycia, we know that he was worshiped at Mount Cragus and Ida in Lycia; but he was also worshiped at Lycoreia on Mount Parnassus, at Sicyon,1 Argos,2 and Athens.3 In nearly all cases, moreover, where the god appears with this name, we find traditions concerning wolves. Thus the descendants of Deucalion, who founded Lycoreia, followed a wolf's roar; Latona came to Delos as a she-wolf, and she was conducted by wolves to the river Xanthus; wolves protected the treasures of Apollo; and near the great altar at Delphi there stood an iron wolf with inscriptions.4
The attack of a wolf upon a herd of cattle occasioned the worship of Apollo Lyceius at Argos;5 and the Sicyonians are said to have been taught by Apollo in what manner they should get rid of wolves.6 In addition to all this, Apollo is called λυκοκτόνος (lykoktonos).7 Apollo, by the name of Lyceius, is therefore generally characterized as the destroyer.8
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 9.7.
- ibid. ii, 19.3.
- ibid. i, 19.4.
- ibid.; Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 14.4.
- Plutarch. Pyrrhus, 32; comp. Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, ii, 124.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 19.3.
- Sophocles. Electra, 7; Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 9.7; Hesychius, s.v.
- Müller. Die Dorier ii, 6.8.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.