Leto with children

Leto and her children

Leto (meaning the hidden one), was the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. She had a sister, Asteria, who was married to the Titan of destruction (Perses), their cousin. When Perses was imprisoned after the war, Asteria turned into a quail to escape the lustful eye of Zeus. She then dove into the ocean and was pursued by Poseidon. She transformed into the island of Delos, which Poseidon chained under the ocean. She was the mother of Apollo and Artemis (their father being Zeus) whom she gave birth to on the island of Delos, which became a place sacred to the three deities. Her Roman name was Latona.

In Myth

Zeus lay with Leto for one night, Hera was jealous when she realised the Titaness was pregnant. She cursed Leto terribly, decreeing that Leto could not give birth on any land under the sun. She wandered from place to place, until she came upon a small pond, satisfying the thirst of a few Lycian farmers. She asked to take a drink, and was denied when the Lycians deliberately stirred up mud at the bottom of the pool. Leto, in her anger, changed the farmers into frogs, who spend their entire days near ponds and water.

She eventually went to Poseidon for help. Poseidon benevolently raised the island of Delos, which was suspended under the sea, to the surface and chained it there. Leto then gave birth to the twin gods, first Artemis and then Apollo. The birth of Apollo was said to be so painful, Artemis helped to deliver him. She then retired to play a relatively unseen (appropriate based in her name) role on Mount Olympus.

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