25 January 2011


Can anybody explain why, in the old and new Vulgates, and in the old and new Latin Office Books in texts for today, Apollos is (nominative) 'Apollo'?

My assumption is that Apollos is a syncopated form of Apollonios; and I find it potentially confusing that it appears in Latin indistinguishable from the name of the Archer of Delos and 'Partner', as we have to say nowadays, of Daphne and various other nymphs.

I spent nearly three decades nagging students to remember the S at the end of of Apollos!


Father DeViese said...

My Office texts are different for today, but as far as I can tell the correct form is indeed Apollo. According to the Greek text, in the first chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes "Ego autem Apollo" or "Ego de Apollo" in Greek (vs. 12) (sorry for the lack of Hellenic font), without the use of a sigma...Apollo ends merely in an omega.

I would take this to mean that the actual name is Apollo, and he is probably named for the God. I would say that the added "s" is an affectation that came much later, and was retained by some, but not by others. For example, the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible uses "Apollo" instead.

If this is the case, then "Apollo" is indeclinable, as are David, Abraham, et al. Why that form is chosen remains a mystery, because in the part of Corinthians I cited, Apollo should be genitive, being formed as "Apollinis". In the same way, in verse 12 of the last chapter of the same letter, the Latin text is simply "de Apollo," which if it weren't indeclinable, would be "de Apolline".

There doesn't seem to be a shortened form of Apollonious (Apollonius)--at least according to Lewis & Short.

Anonymous said...

1 Corinthians 3;
v 4: Apollo (sorry no Greek font- final omega) is clearly genitive, like Paulou.
In the nominitive (vv5,6) we have "ti oun estin Apollos" and "Apollos epotisen",
so Fr Hunwicke was quite right in nagging student to remember it.

Anonymous said...

So the answer to Father's original query is probably the same as that of Dr Johnson re "pastern"- "Sheer ignorance."

Seth said...

fieldofdreams2010 is correct.

Fr DeViese,remember that the Greek god is usually written 'Apollon' (gen. Apollonos).

I too wondered over the form 'Apollo' in the Latin of the antiphon this morning - but then I realised it must have originated as a transcription of the Greek genitive (quite common); the nominative form may have slipped in by false analogy with the name of the god in Latin and by analogy with the genitive form (also quite common).

Apollos was a reasonably common name in Greek antiquity: I'm unsure that a contraction of Apollonios is the best way of explaining it, but rather it is probably best understood as a dialectal variation on the -n ending (as of the god), with its own distinct endings as a result.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that ''Ego autem Apollo'' was a grammatical error in the text! It seemed to me that the genitive of Apollo should be Apollinis. I don't find it at all strange that the Latin has Apollo for the nominative. For in Latn the god's name is just that: Apollo. What then was the genitive of Apollo in classical Latin? i Classical Greek. In Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek the nominative is Ἀπόλλων, Apollōn.

Seth said...


That's the point: I think we can assume from the genitive in the Vulgate trans. of St Paul that the declension is NOT that of the god, Apollo, Apollinis. Rather, the genitive, Apollo, is modelled on the -ω ending of the Greek genitive. From this we can guess that the nominative would likewise be Apollos in Latin.

However, this would lead to a strange looking declension of the name (Apollos, Apollo, Apollon (?), Apollo, Apollo (?)) and so it is hardly surprising if by analogy with the other cases and perhaps the name of the god the nominative was assimilated to Apollo as well.

I should add that this is entirely my speculation and I don't have the necessary books with me to confirm this, but I believe it to be the most plausible account of this apparent discrepancy.