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The Myth Of Apollo And Daphne

Apollo Pursuing Daphne, oil on canvas, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Greek mythology is full of fascinating stories about gods, goddesses, and mortals. One of these tales is the story of Apollo and Daphne.

Apollo, the god of music, poetry, and prophecy, had just emerged victorious from a battle with Python, a fearsome snake. His triumph was met with an air of arrogance, which drew the ire of Eros (better known as Cupid), the god of love who was also a famous bowman.

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Apollo and the Serpent Python – Cornelis de Vos (1584-1651) – PD-art-100

“Lewd boy, what are you doing with that heavy bow? My shoulders surely are more fit for it; for I can strike wild beasts —I never miss. I can fell enemies; just recently I even hit—my shafts were infinite — that swollen serpent, Python, sprawled across whole acres with his pestilential paunch. Be glad your torch can spark a bit of love: don’t try to vie with me for praise and wreaths!”

Apollo In The Metamorphoses of Ovid

Apollo insulted Eros, who retaliated by shooting Apollo in the chest with a golden arrow with a glistening point filled with the power of love and Daphne with another one blunt with a tip leaden filled with aversion. Daphne was a beautiful Nymph, that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Apollo instantly fell in love with her and chased after her. It was the first love of Apollo. Daphne, on the other hand, was filled with a sudden aversion to Apollo and ran away from him. — This was the cruel wrath of Cupid. The devastation of unrequited love.

Cupid’s revenge was cruel. Apollo was madly in love with a woman who hated him with every ounce of her being.

Daphne was unlikely to appreciate Apollo even without the mythical power of the arrow. She was devoted to Apollo’s twin sister Artemis. Both Daphne and Artemis were proud virgins who had rejected many men.

Apollo kept chasing but could never catch up and soon tired of running. Desperate for help, Apollo cried out to the gods. One day, Cupid decided to punish him, but then had a change of heart and decided to help instead.

With the help of Cupid, Daphne knew she was going to get caught by Apollo. Seeing no other option, Daphne called upon her father, the river god Peneus, to help her. He answered her plea by transforming her into a laurel tree.

Apollo declared that from then on, laurel trees would be a symbol of his love for Daphne. Still in love with her, he uses his power of eternal youth and immortality to make Tree Daphne evergreen. It is why the leaves of laurel trees don’t decay.

He will also wear a laurel as a crown, which makes him very recognizable. Even though Apollo can’t physically touch her anymore, he’s still attracted to her beauty and pays tribute to her by wearing a laurel wreath.

The Moral

The Greek mythology story of Apollo and Daphne is a tragic tale of unrequited love. It also teaches an important lesson about hubris and punishment. Next time you see a laurel tree, think of this story and how even though Daphne was turned into a tree, she is still remembered for her beauty centuries later.

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