Apollo and the Art of Archery

Apollo shooting arrow
Apollo the farshooter
Picture from theoi.com

In book 1 of the Iliad, Apollo makes quite an entrance. Rightly so because, though he may not be the most powerful god, he is the god behind the Iliad, as I will explain.
He is the patron of poetry, healing, prophecy and archery. These four are poetically connected. In Homeric terms, both poetry and prophecy are actually branches of healing. Homer's poetry does not only have an entertaining function, it is also designed to alleviate pain and fear suffered by an individual or a community. Not only the Iliad but to a lesser degree also the Odyssey serve this purpose. If Apollo is the god of poetry, at least certain kinds of poetry, and the Iliad is that kind of poetry, then Apollo must be in some sense the god behind the Iliad. This means that the poet is 'obeying Apollo', because:

It pays to take careful stock of everything related to Apollo. A basic concept is that of the "winged words" (better: "feathered words"). Words are like arrows which may hit you in the heart if they are aimed well, so a singer is like an archer just as a lyre is like a bow (for this, see Odysseus stringing his bow in Od 21.404-). The "Silverbow" epithet of the god is explained in il 9.186-7: it is actually a lyre with a silver crossbar; I suspect Homer had one like that.
An archer is a kind of coward who stands apart from the fighting and kills at a distance. A poet who has left his hometown, where the fighters are, to go into exile and aim words at them from afar, must be very aware of this reflection. It is not without significance that Apollo is presented as pro-Trojan.