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Greek Gods» Apollo» Myths about Apollo » The Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas

Page last updated on: April 5th, 2021

The Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas

Author: Apollodorus

Apollo and Marsyas by Hans Thoma (detail)The Satyr Marsyas was a famous flute-player from Phrygia, in what is now Central Turkey, who boasted that he could play the double flute better than Apollo, the Greek god of Music.
When Apollo found this out, he challenged the Satyr to a musical contest. The winner of the contest would do as he pleased with the loser, and the judges of the contest would be the Muses, the Greek goddesses of Art and Science.

First Marsyas played his flute and the tune was wonderful. Then it was Apollo's turn. Apollo played notes full of harmony with his lyre and his voice was heavenly, captivating everything around him.

Then Apollo played his lyre upside down and asked Marsyas to do the same, but Marsyas was unable to do so. So Apollo was declared the winner of the contest... and the punishment he chose for Marsyas was severe: Apollo hung Marsyas over a pine tree and skinned him.

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