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Apollo and Daphne Summary

How It (Supposedly) Went Down

  • Apollo has just killed the Python, a gigantic snake, and he's feeling really full of himself.
  • The god comes across Cupid (called Eros by the Greeks).
  • Apollo teases Cupid about his archery, saying that Cupid is nowhere as good with the bow and arrow as he is.
  • Cupid doesn't appreciate Apollo's teasing and decides to mess with the rival god's heart.
  • The little winged god of desire fires off two arrows.
  • One arrow is tipped with gold and is designed to make people fall in love.
  • The other is tipped with lead and does the opposite.
  • Cupid nails Apollo with the golden arrow of love, and shoots a nymph named Daphne with the arrow tipped with lead.
  • Instantly, Apollo falls in love with Daphne, but she finds the idea of loving anybody totally gross.
  • Daphne tells her father, Peneus (a river god), that she wants to always be a virgin like the goddess Artemis (Apollo's twin sister, Diana to the Romans).
  • Peneus tells his daughter that she owes him some grandchildren.
  • She keeps begging, though, and Peneus agrees to his daughter's request, telling her that she'll never have to get married.
  • However, the river god cryptically adds, "Your own face will forbid it."
  • (Duh, duh, duh…Foreshadowing!)
  • Anyway, thanks to Cupid's shenanigans Apollo is now totally in love with Daphne. He chases her all around the woods, trying to convince her of how completely awesome he is.
  • Daphne is not having it, however, and just keeps on running.
  • Eventually, Apollo catches up with the beautiful nymph. When he just about has her, Daphne calls out for her father to help her.
  • Peneus does what any concerned father would do – he turns his lovely daughter into a tree.
  • Yep, before Apollo can get to her, Daphne is encased in bark, rooted to the ground, and has sprouted leaves.
  • Apollo's ladylove becomes a laurel tree.
  • As you might imagine, Apollo is pretty upset. He declares that he will never forget Daphne and makes the laurel his sacred tree.
  • Apollo says that he will wear a crown of laurel on his head and decorate his bow and lyre (a harp-like musical instrument) with laurel leaves.
  • The grief-stricken god swears to the laurel tree that it will always stay green and never rot.
  • The laurel tree bows its head in gratitude.

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