parentGreek and Roman mythos
siblingsEchidnaEosHarpiesLadonMusesNymphsPhorkysProtogenoiSeleneStyxThe Labors of HeraklesTitansΓοργών GorgonsΓραῖαι GraiaiἙκάτη HekateἘρινύες Erinyes (Furies)


Apollo and Daphne

Apollo's first love was Daphne, the virgin daughter of the river god Peneus. Daphne was an adorer Diana's lifestyle: she an admirer of Diana who had spurned many suitors and remained a virgin, desiring to hunt in the seclusion of the deep forest with just a hair-ribbon as adornment. Apollo's love was unrequited, a punishment for having scorned Cupid:

What are you doing with such manly arms,
lascivious boy? That bow befits our brawn,
wherewith we deal out wounds to savage beasts
and other mortal foes, unerringly:
just now with our innumerable arrows
we managed to lay low the mighty Python,
whose pestilential belly covered acres!
Content yourself with kindling love affairs
with your wee torch -- and don't claim our glory! (Metamorphoses, I.634-642)

Cupid drew two arrows: a gold-tipped, amorous one for Apollo; and a lead-tipped, inert one for Daphne. Apollo is overwhelmed with passion when he sights her, as a dry brush goes ablaze. But Daphne flees. Apollo chases her, rattling off his lineage, accomplishments and other desirable qualities. Uninterested, Daphne runs ever-faster and upon seeing her father Peneus she implores him to strip her off her beauty. Thus, she undergoes one of Ovid's lyrical, exhilarating transformations and becomes a laurel tree. Adoring the tree, but knowing Daphne will never be his bride, Apollo makes the tree his:

You will assuredly be my own tree,
O Laurel, and will always find yourself
girding my locks, my lyre, and my quiver too --
you will adorn great Roman generals
when every voice cries out in joyful triumph
along the route up to the Capitol;
you will protect the portals of Augustus,
guarding, on either side, his crown of oak;
and as I am -- perpetually youthful,
my flowing locks unknown to barber's shears --
so you will be an evergreen forever
bearing your brilliant foliage with glory!" (Metamorphoses, I.769-781)