The Greek gods were men and women a good deal like ourselves. Their qualities were exaggerated to illustrate and draw attention to the good and bad within us all. The Olympians were, naturally much the same.
In this case, we all know Apollo's good points. There are, however, some rather glaring faults in the god of light, music, and medicine.
One day, it seems that Apollo was suffering from a rather pointed bout of ego. Coming across, Cupid (Eros, in Greek) he sneered at Cupid's bow and arrows, saying that as a child he should put away adult toys and run along. In order to show Apollo the true potency of his weapons, and inject a little much needed humility into him, Cupid shot the god with one of his golden arrows. Daphne, daughter of a minor river god, was passing just then and her, Cupid shot with one of his leaden arrows.
Apollo was immediately struck with an all consuming love for Daphne, and she with loathing for him. Apollo pursued the nymph across the wood, over meadows, all day. She took on other forms to escape him, he followed suit. She was, of course, no match for a god and began to tire. Coming up on her father's river, she called for his help.
Daphne's legs fused together and became bark, her arms became branches, and her hair turned into lovely green laurel leaves. Thus, she escaped Apollo and he mourned for her loss. To honour her memory (melodrama, anyone?) he created a crown from the laurel leaves and this was hereafter awarded to the winner of the Olympian games.
Apollo and his twin sister Diana, were born of Leto. She was, naturally, very proud of her children. There was another woman, by the name of Niobe. She was also proud of her children. She had fourteen, seven girls and seven boys.
One day she commented on her superiority and that of her children over Leto and hers.
Consumed with anger and bent on revenge, Apollo and Diana took their bows and struck down every last one of Niobe's children. From that day on, she cried unendingly and repented her pride.
Another story of love gone wrong for Apollo.
Cassandra lived in Troy and was a great favourite of Apollo. He gave her the gift of prophecy and then pursued her.
She rejected his advances and in anger, Apollo cursed her, saying that while she would see truly, no one would ever believe her.
Last but not least, one of Apollo's many children. While not quite as prolific as his father, Apollo sired his share of demi gods.
Phaeton lived with his mother and his sisters, and it was a reasonably happy life. One day, he was pestering his mother for information about his father, and she told him that his father was, in fact, Apollo. He was overjoyed. The other boys at his school would be green with envy.
He went to Apollo and asked to be acknowledged and given something as proof of his being Apollo's son and his affection. Apollo, who was a kind sort of god for all his faults, promised to give the boy whatever he wished, thinking that there was no danger in this.
Foolish oversight. Because Phaeton asked to drive Apollo's sun chariot across the sky. Having given his promise, Apollo was bound to keep it. And so Phaeton drove the chariot. He didn't listen to Apollo's instructions however. First, he flew too close to the earth, scorching it and killing many, then he flew too far away, freezing the world. Naturally, the story ends with his death.
While these stories very clearly illustrate the failings of mortals, they subtly point out that even the gods, immortal and powerful as they are, are not perfect. They are prone to bouts of jealousy, anger, and even foolishness. Even as they stand examples of the shining qualities to which we should all strive, they are also held up as examples of how NOT to behave.