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Apollo and Daphne by Antonio del Pollaiolo, c. 1470–80 (National Gallery, London)
Apollo and Daphne, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, c. 1744–45 (Louvre).

According to Greek myth, Apollo chased the nymph Daphne (Greek: Δάφνη, meaning "laurel"), daughter either of Peneus and Creusa in Thessaly,[1] or of the river Ladon in Arcadia.[2] The pursuit of a local nymph by an Olympian god, part of the archaic adjustment of religious cult in Greece, was given an arch anecdotal turn in Ovid's Metamorphoses,[3] where the god's infatuation was caused by an arrow from Eros, who wanted to make Apollo pay for making fun of his archery skills and to demonstrate the power of love's arrow. Ovid treats the encounter, Apollo's lapse of majesty, in the mode of elegaic lovers,[4] and expands the pursuit into a series of speeches. According to the rendering Daphne prays for help either to the river god Peneus or to Gaia, and is transformed into a laurel (Laurus nobilis): "a heavy numbness seized her limbs, thin bark closed over her breast, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet so swift a moment ago stuck fast in slow-growing roots, her face was lost in the canopy. Only her shining beauty was left."[5] "Why should she wish to escape? Because she is Artemis Daphnaia, the god's sister," observed the Freudian anthropologist Géza Róheim,[6] and Joseph Fontenrose concurs;[7] baldly stating such a one-to-one identity doubtless oversimplifies the picture: "the equation of Artemis and Daphne in the transformation myth itself clearly cannot work", observes Lightfoot.[8] The laurel became sacred to Apollo, and crowned the victors at the Pythian Games.[9] Most artistic impressions of the myth focus on the moment of transformation.

A version of the attempt on Daphne's sworn virginity that has been less familiar since the Renaissance was narrated by the Hellenistic poet Parthenius, in his Erotica Pathemata, "The Sorrows of Love".[10] Parthenius' tale, based on the Hellenistic historian Phylarchus, was known to Pausanias, who recounted it in his Description of Greece (second century AD).[11] In this, which is the earliest written account, Daphne is a mortal girl fond of hunting and determined to remain a virgin; she is pursued by the lad Leucippos ("white stallion"), who assumes girl's outfits in order to join her band of huntresses. He is so successful in gaining her innocent affection, that Apollo is jealous and puts it into the girl's mind to stop to bathe in the river Ladon; there, as all strip naked, the ruse is revealed, as in the myth of Callisto, and the huntresses plunge their spears into Leucippos. At this moment Apollo's attention becomes engaged, and he begins his own pursuit; Parthenius' modern editor remarks on the rather awkward transition, linking two narratives.[12]

A famous rendition of the subject is Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture Apollo and Daphne. In music, the German composer Richard Strauss composed a one-act opera about the legend based on accounts by both Ovid and Euripides.

Contents

Artemis Daphnaia

Artemis Daphnaia, who had her temple among the Lacedemonians, at a place called Hypsoi[13] in Antiquity, on the slopes of Mount Cnacadion near the Spartan frontier,[14] had her own sacred laurel trees.[15]

Temple of Apollo Daphnephoros, Eretria

At Eretria the identity of an excavated 7th and 6th century temple[16] to Apollo Daphnephoros, "Apollo, laurel-bearer", or "carrying off Daphne", a "place where the citizens are to take the oath", is identified in inscriptions.[17]

Notes

  1. ^ Hyginus Fabulae 203.
  2. ^ Pausanias viii.20.1 and x.7.8; Statius, Thebaid iv.289f; Johannes Tzetzes Ad Lycophron 6; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana i. 16; First Vatican Mythographer ii.216; none of these citations are earlier than Parthenius' source Phylarchus.
  3. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses i. 452; the treatment is commonly viewed as an Ovidian invention: see H. Fränkel, Ovid: A Poet Between Two Worlds (1945) p 79, or E. Doblhofer, ""Ovidius Urbanus: eine Studie zum Humor in Ovids Metamorphosen" Philologus 104 (1960), p. 79ff; for the episode as a witty transposition of Calvus' Io, see B. Otis, Ovid as an Epic Poet 2nd ed. 1970, p. 102
  4. ^ W.S.M. Nicoll, "Cupid, Apollo, and Daphne (Ovid, Met. 1. 452 ff.)" The Classical Quarterly, New Series, 30.1 (1980; 174–182).
  5. ^ Translation by A. S. Kline, 2000.
  6. ^ Róheim, Animism, Magic and the Divine King, (London 1930:308)
  7. ^ Fontenrose, The Delphic oracle: its responses and operations 1981:49.
  8. ^ lightfoot p. 474.
  9. ^ Pausanias, x.7.8.
  10. ^ J. L. Lightfoot, tr. Parthenius of Nicaea: the poetical fragments and the Erōtika pathēmata 1999, notes to XV, Περὶ Δάφνης pp 471ff.
  11. ^ Pausanias viii.20.2.
  12. ^ Lightfoot, p. 471.
  13. ^ G. Shipley, "The Extent of Spartan Territory in the Late Classical and Hellenistic Periods", The Annual of the British School at Athens, 2000.
  14. ^ Pausanias, 3.24.8 (on-line text); Lilius Gregorius Gyraldus , Historiae Deorum Gentilium, Basel, 1548, Syntagma 10, is noted in this connection in Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770
  15. ^ Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951:141
  16. ^ Built over 8th century walls and apsidal building beneath the naos, all betokening a Geometric date for the sanctuary.
  17. ^ Rufus B. Richardson, "A Temple in Eretria" The American Journal of Archaeology and of the History of the Fine Arts, 10.3 (July - September 1895:326-337); Paul Auberson, Eretria. Fouilles et Recherches I, Temple d'Apollon Daphnéphoros, Architecture (Bern, 1968). See also Plutarch, Pythian Oracle, 16.

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Simple English

For other uses of the name see Daphne
tree. Painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.]]

Daphne (Greek: Δάφνη, meaning "laurel") was a dryad in Greek mythology, daughter of the river god Peneus.

Once the god Apollo made fun of Eros, the god of love. Eros was angry, and shot a golden arrow at Apollo, making him fall in love with the nymph Daphne. But Eros shot Daphne with a leaden arrow so she could never love Apollo back. So Apollo followed her while she ran away, until she came to the river of her father Peneus. There she wanted help from Peneus, who turned her into a laurel tree so she would be safe from Apollo. Apollo was sad, and made himself a laurel wreath (a circle made of laurel that you put on your head) from the tree, and the laurel tree became sacred to Apollo.

See Ovid. Metamorphoses. Book I: 452-567.

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