(covers information from several alternate timelines)
In Greek mythology, Apollo was one of the most important Olympian deities and demigods. The son of the god Zeus and the Human Leto, he was the god of light and purity. He was often associated with prophecy, medicine, music and poetry, archery, and the care of flocks and herds. In 2267, an alien encountered on Pollux IV claimed to be the god Apollo.
In 2267, the USS Enterprise encountered an alien claiming to be the Greek god Apollo on Pollux IV. Upon making contact, Apollo gave two, somewhat contradictory stories of his origins. Originally, Apollo stated that Pollux IV was his native planet and that he and all the Greek gods were in fact a band of explorers who had visited Earth five thousand years earlier, first arriving around 2700 BC. According to Apollo, these aliens established themselves as gods to the ancient shepherd people of that era who lived in the Mediterranean basin.
In Apollo's first narrative, he spoke of the other Greek gods as his equals and friends, claiming they were all "fellow travelers" from Pollux IV. However, in a later conversation with Carolyn Palamas, Apollo stated that he had actually been born on Earth when the god Zeus had mated with his mother, a human of the time named Leto. Apollo did not, however, state he was half human, but rather that he was a full Greek god. According to McCoy's medical tricorder, Apollo was a "simple humanoid" but did have a strange organ in his chest that McCoy couldn't decipher.
When later hearing elements of both stories, James T. Kirk doubted both and said that Apollo's true nature was unknown. Kirk speculated that the trappings of Greek mythology, the name Apollo, and even the entire appearance of Apollo's temple had been created for the landing party's benefit in order to make relating to Apollo easier. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
Apollo on Earth
During their time on Earth, ancient humans had begun worshiping Apollo and the other aliens as gods. Through this adoration, Apollo explained that himself and his companions may actually have, in some sense, considered themselves to be real gods. The Greek gods thrived on the worship and love of its people, but also could command great power and strength.
At the height of their power on Earth, the Greek gods maintained their headquarters and residence at Mount Olympus. According to Apollo, the gods had every ability to "strike out from Olympus and destroy" but did not wish to do so. Even so, Apollo himself had confrontations with such ancient figures as Hercules and Agamemnon.
Apollo himself was also frequently associated with the higher developments of civilization, such as law, philosophy, and the arts. Finally, in Greek mythology, Apollo driving his chariot through the sky was associated with the movement of the Sun. He was twin brother to Artemis, goddess of hunting, though Athena was also a sister of his as well. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
On Earth, the image of Apollo was preserved for thousands of years in artistic works. One of these artistic works, the design for the mission insignia of Apollo 17, included a profile of Apollo facing to his left. Additionally, the mission insignia for Apollo 13 depicted the steeds of Apollo riding over Luna. (ENT: "First Flight")
Return to Pollux IV
After a time of being worshiped on Earth, mankind turned away from the Greek gods, forcing Apollo and the other gods to return home to Pollux IV. Once back on Pollux, the Greek gods found their world empty without the worship and adoration they had experienced on Earth.
With Pollux an empty world, the Greek god aliens began to give up hope, and they left their physical existence. Only Apollo was confident that mankind would one day leave Earth, and find the gods again. And when it happened, he planned to "restore the proper order" – to restore man to a worshipful species, provided for and loved by a new race of gods, fathered by him. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
In the 23rd century, Apollo would have his chance to rebuild the legacy of the Greek gods. When the USS Enterprise approached Pollux IV in 2267, the ship encountered what appeared, visually, to be an enormous, translucent, green humanoid hand. In fact, it was a force field, conventional in composition but on unusual wavelengths, generated by Apollo. This field was powerful enough to stop the ship, and impulse engines could not break the ship free.
Attempts to push it away with the tractor beam, and to reverse its polarity were equally unsuccessful in disrupting it. In addition to merely holding the ship, Apollo could exert pressure beyond the ship's tolerance, and in this fashion, threaten the ship. Spock was eventually able to pierce the field with powerful bursts of M-rays on carefully calculated wavelengths. Although this did not destroy the field, it enabled the Enterprise to fire her phasers. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
Prior to 2263 in the alternate reality, it had been speculated that the USS Franklin's disappearance was possibly the result of an encounter with "a giant, green space hand" possibly being that of Apollo. (Star Trek Beyond)
During their visit, Apollo came across as arrogant and accustomed to obedience from his "children" – really, his slaves. While claiming to be in love with Carolyn Palamas, after she rejected him he showed signs that he wanted to control her like the slave-master her captain said he truly was – forbidding her to leave his presence and ordering her to stay there with him, for instance. When he seduced her, his words implied that he was offering her joint rule of Pollux IV, to sit by his side as his queen. During Carolyn's rejection of him, Apollo stated to her that he has "chosen her" for that duty, and earlier he noted her fearlessness, commenting that she is "fit indeed" to be his consort.
Despite this he did show some signs of a softer side. It is implied that the loss of his family and worshippers had left him terribly lonely. He did indicate that he would have truly cared for the Humans under his rule, and for the woman that would have had become his queen, despite Kirk's notions of him being a slave-master initially. He showed extreme despondency at being rejected by Humanity, and Carolyn especially, and knowing that he had waited in vain.
Apollo was eventually overcome by the Enterprise and her crew, who subsequently destroyed the source of his power.
After the temple was destroyed, Apollo demonstrated that he still retained some abilities, however, from his reaction to the temple's destruction, it seems likely that when he expended the last of his stored energy, he would be powerless, or nearly so.
|Aphrodite • Apollo • Artemis • Asclepius • Athena • Atlas • Hephaestus • Hera • Hermes • Pan • Zeus|
The depiction of Apollo in "Who Mourns for Adonais" was considerably changed during the episode's rewrite process. Writer and story editor D.C. Fontana offered, "He was [originally] something of an empty character and we needed to give him more character, more interaction with our regular leads." ("Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana", TOS Season 2 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
Apollo was played by actor Michael Forest. This portrayal varied from how Apollo has usually been depicted in mythological and artistic tradition, since the character is normally golden haired. The original casting choice for the role, Jon Voight is indeed blonde-haired.
Roman gods (which were based on Greek counterparts) also appear on planet 892-IV, yet it is unknown if Apollo and his compatriots visited this world as well or if the similarity is due to some other reason. Captain Kirk also shows little reaction to the Roman Gods when he learns of them, even though he had already met Apollo by that point. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses", "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
In the credits for Star Trek Beyond, what appears to be Apollo's "giant green hand" can been seen floating in space – a callback to Montgomery Scott's line regarding the mysterious disappearance of the USS Franklin earlier in that film.
Michael Forest reprises his role as Apollo in the first episode of the TOS fan series, "Pilgrim of Eternity".
According to the novel Being Human, Carolyn Palamas became pregnant with Apollo's child and gave birth to a daughter named Athena Palamas. Star Trek: New Frontier regular character Mark McHenry is revealed to be her descendant.
The photo comic Of Woman Born also depicts Carolyn Palamas becoming pregnant with Apollo's child, but in this version, the child is male.