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Apollo and Daphne
Apollo and Daphne

Theme of Love in Apollo and Daphne

We debated over whether we should label this theme "lust" instead of "love." When Cupid's golden arrow nails Apollo, making him fall for Daphne, Apollo doesn't seem exactly in love with Daphne. Instead, this god of reason seems overwhelmed with irrational, overpowering erotic desire. Cupid (a.k.a. Eros) was the god of desire after all, not love (that was the job of his mother, Aphrodite/Venus).

However, when Daphne's father turns her into a laurel tree to protect her from the love-crazy god, Apollo seems sincerely moved by what's happened. He honors Daphne for all time by making the laurel his sacred tree, keeping her memory always close to his heart. Sure, we can debate whether being transformed into a tree is worth the "honor" of being sacred to Apollo, but it seems clear that Apollo has developed something deeper than his initial wild desire for Daphne.

Overall, though, love is tragic in this story. It's also causes total chaos. Neither Apollo nor Daphne ends up happy, and this is actually pretty common in stories about Apollo. The guy is simply unlucky in love. You can read more about his bad romances in "Characters: Apollo."

Questions About Love

  1. Are there other types of love are demonstrated in the story besides romantic? If so, what are they?
  2. What might Daphne's fate be saying about the nature of love?
  3. What do you think would have happened if Daphne and Apollo had met without having been struck by Cupid's arrows?
  4. Why do you think that Cupid's revenge scheme involves making Apollo fall in love? If you were plotting revenge against Apollo, would your scheme involve love or something else?

Next Page: Transformation
Previous Page: The Myth

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