Cite This Page
 
Apollo and Daphne
Apollo and Daphne

Daphne in Apollo and Daphne

Daphne is a beautiful young nymph and the daughter of the river god Peneus. She runs into some pretty bad luck when she gets caught up in a spat between Cupid (called Eros by the Greeks) and Apollo. To get Apollo back for teasing him, Cupid shoots his rival with a gold-tipped arrow that makes Apollo fall in love with Daphne. Cupid then shoots Daphne with a lead-tipped arrow, making her hate the idea of being in love with anyone. Trouble ensues.

The story never tells us what Daphne was like before Cupid and Apollo came her way. We can only wonder: if Cupid hadn't gotten in the way, would she have fallen for the eligible young god, Apollo? Could this have been a match made in heaven (or Mt. Olympus, rather)? No matter what she was like before the lead-tipped arrow came her way, Daphne's name has been associated throughout history with unattainable female beauty.

After being hit by the lead-tipped arrow, Daphne tells her dad that she wants to be a virgin forever and run free in the woods like the goddess Artemis. Apollo chases her around the woods relentlessly. Daphne begs her father for help, so he turns her into a laurel tree. She does get her wish, in a way – Daphne remains a virgin forever and always gets to hang out in the woods. Of course, she doesn't really get to do a lot of running. Plus she's a tree.

Daphne really does get the bum end of this deal. She hasn't really done anything wrong. She was just hanging out, minding her own business, and doing whatever it is that nymphs do all day, when along come Cupid and Apollo. At the end of the story, Apollo makes the laurel his sacred tree in honor of Daphne. We have to question how much of an honor this is. We mean, she went from a freewheeling nymph to a root-bound tree – that has to suck. You could see Daphne an innocent victim of a male-dominated society.

Next Page: Cupid
Previous Page: Apollo