a mythical personage, who is represented as the earliest Greek lyric poet, and the first author of sacred hymns in hexameter verse. He is closely connected with the worship of Apollo, of whom, in one legend, he was made the prophet.
His connection with Apollo is also marked by the statement of the Delphian poetess Boeo, who represents him as a Hyperborean, and one of the establishers of oracles; but the more common story made him a native of Lycia. In either case, his coming from the extreme part of the Pelasgian world to Delos intimates the distant origin of the Ionian worship of Apollo, to which, and not to the Dorian, Olen properly belongs.
His name, according to Welcker, signifies simply the
flute-player of the ancient hymns, which went under his name,
Pausanias mentions those to Hera, to
Achaeia, and to Eileithyia; the
last was in celebration of the birth of Apollo and Artemis. (The
History of Herodotus IV)