Who Mourns for Adonais?

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"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 2
Directed by Marc Daniels
Written by Gilbert Ralston
Gene L. Coon
Featured music Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 033
Original air date September 22, 1967 (1967-09-22)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Amok Time"
Next →
"The Changeling"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Who Mourns for Adonais?" is episode No. 31, production No. 33, of the second season of the original science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon, and directed by Marc Daniels, it was first broadcast September 22, 1967, and repeated May 10, 1968. The allusion is to the 1821 elegy Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise are held captive by an alien who claims to be the Greek god Apollo.


On stardate 3468.1, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is nearing orbit of Pollux IV, a Class M planet, for a survey. Suddenly, a huge energy field in the shape of a glowing green hand appears and grabs the Enterprise, halting its movement. Kirk tries to wriggle the ship free of the "hand" by using the ship's impulse engines, but to no avail.

A humanoid apparition, wearing a golden laurel wreath on its head, appears on the bridge viewscreen and addresses the ship's crew as his "beloved children." The words of the figure boom with a godlike presence, and he seems impressed with the human species for finally making their way into deep space. Kirk demands that the ship be set free, but the being responds by tightening the grip, threatening to crush the ship. Kirk backs off, and then the apparition invites them down to the planet, all except for First Officer Spock, whose pointed ears remind him of Pan, who always bored him.

Kirk leads a landing party that also includes Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, Chief Engineer Scott, Ensign Chekov, and Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas (Leslie Parrish) (who specializes in archaeology and anthropology, and for whom Mr. Scott shows increasing affection). The team arrives in what appears to be an ancient garden from Mount Olympus, complete with marble columns and Greek statues. They soon encounter an attractive male (Michael Forest) dressed in a short chiton. The humanoid identifies himself as the god Apollo. He informs the party that he will not allow them to leave, and renders the team's communicators and transporter room nonfunctional. He indicates that he wants the crew of Enterprise to settle Pollux IV, to serve and worship him as their god. Kirk refuses.

Annoyed, Apollo grows to a gigantic height as a show of his awesome power, but his attention shifts toward Carolyn, which angers Mr. Scott. Apollo admires her beauty, and the lady seems flattered as he takes her hand. Scott steps forward to defend her against Apollo's advances, but Apollo destroys his weapon then transforms the Lieutenant's uniform into a revealing peplos and announces he will take her as his consort and the mother of the thousands of gods he wishes to sire. Scotty protests again, but Apollo repels him with an electrical shock.

After this display of his power, Apollo appears drained, retiring with Carolyn to another area of the planet, which leads Kirk to the idea that he needs time to recuperate. McCoy scans Apollo, discovering that though appearing essentially normal he has an extra organ in his chest, which McCoy cannot identify, though he guesses it has something to do with the alien's powers. Kirk schemes a plan to provoke Apollo to test the limits of his power, and perhaps weaken him enough to allow the landing party to overpower him.

Meanwhile, Carolyn, starry-eyed in love, learns that Apollo belonged to a group that were god-like, though not in the sense that the ancient Greeks believed them to be. Kirk and McCoy conclude that he is indeed the real Apollo, but was part of a group of powerful aliens that visited Earth 50 centuries ago, and thrived on the love, worship, loyalty and attention of the ancient Greeks. Eventually all of the aliens, with the exception of Apollo, realized that humanity no longer worshiped them. They spread themselves "upon the wings of the wind" and faded away into nothing.

After an attempt at provoking Apollo, which Carolyn stops by convincing the powerful being not to hurt her friends, Apollo instructs Kirk to make arrangements for the people of the Enterprise to come down to the planet with supplies, food, and tools. Once that is done he will destroy the ship and begin a new society that he may rule. Kirk takes Carolyn aside and tells her to reject Apollo if he does not comply with Kirk's demands to leave, as she will condemn all of them, including herself, to slavery if she takes Apollo as her consort. At first, she does not believe him, so Kirk takes her hand to remind her that she is human and that her duty as a member of Starfleet is to her shipmates, the Federation, and liberty. She reluctantly agrees to help.

Meanwhile, in orbit around the planet, Mr. Spock manages to find the power source for the force field holding the Enterprise as part of the Greek temple in which Apollo appears to reside. When finally able to communicate with the landing party, he asks Kirk if there is a structure nearby. Kirk confirms the temple, but tells Spock to hold off firing at it as the landing party is scattered and they want to know where Apollo is when the building is attacked.

Reluctantly putting responsibility before her own romantic desires, a love-sparked Carolyn lies through her teeth and tells Apollo she was only using him to get information, that she is not a "simple shepherdess that Apollo can awe" and could no more love him than she could love a new species of bacteria. Angered and hurt, a broken-hearted Apollo calls down thunder and lightning and prepares to punish the landing party. Kirk orders Spock to lock phasers on the temple in order to draw Apollo back to it. Spock is able to punch through the force field with the ship's phasers, destroying the temple.

Apollo is stunned when his powers are nullified. Weakened, he turns to the sky, growing gigantic again, and pronouncing sadly that, indeed, there is no room left in the universe for gods. He tells the Enterprise crew that he would have taken care of them and would have loved them as a father loves his children, and that he legitimately loved Carolyn with all his heart. He then pleads with his fellow deities to take him away. Rejected by a mortal woman and bereft of his powers, Apollo fades away.

Although they appreciate their freedom, the landing party shows remorse for Apollo, with Carolyn devastated and Dr. McCoy wishing that the crew weren't forced to take such extreme measures. Kirk also remarks with some regret that Apollo and his fellow gods had once been a major inspiration for mankind, driving civilization to new heights in art and philosophy. With that in mind, he says: "Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?"


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a C+ rating, noting that it was occasionally memorable, but "undone by lazy scripting and bizarre dialogue".[1]

Cultural references[edit]

The title is a quotation from the poem Adonais by Percy Shelley.

See also[edit]

  • "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" – An episode of the animated Star Trek series about an alien that had long ago visited Earth and now demands worship as a god by the Enterprise crew.
  • Star Trek: New Frontier, a series of novels written by Peter David. One of the characters, Mark McHenry, is a descendant of Apollo. (In the novelization of the episode, but cut from the final shooting script, Carolyn Palamas is pregnant with Apollo's child, whom she names Athena. Athena is Mark McHenry's grandmother.)
  • In the photonovel Star Trek: New Visions issue #11 "Of Woman Born" John Byrne re-tells the episode's ending and continues with the events during Carolyn Palamas' pregnancy.[2]
  • "Pilgrim of Eternity", a 2013 fan based sequel to the episode.
  • Michael Forest and Leonard Nimoy had played outlaw brothers in the episode "The Runt" on the TV series Laramie.[3]
  • A clip from this episode appears in the film X-Men: Apocalypse, which also features the return of a god-like ancient being.


  1. ^ Handlen, Zack (May 1, 2009). ""Amok Time" / "Who Mourns For Adonais?"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ Star Trek New Visions: Of Woman Born. IDW Publishing. 
  3. ^ "The Runt" at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]