The Myth Of Apollo And Daphne Explained

The stories from Greek mythology have both fascinated and entertained us for generations. Tales of the adventures of heroes and the love stories between gods and goddesses have inspired books, movies, plays, and music for centuries. One of the most recognizable figures in Greek mythology is Apollo, the sun god. The son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother to the goddess Artemis, Apollo was one of the most beloved figures in Greek mythology. 

Apollo is portrayed as the perfect blend of physical superiority and moral virtue, according to Greek Mythology. As such, legend says Apollo was irresistible to women, whether they were supernatural beings or mortals. However, there was one exception to this rule, and her name was Daphne. 

Daphne was a minor goddess or a Naiad nymph. Naiad nymphs are associated with freshwater sources like wells and springs, per Greek Mythology. Though she was a minor Greek goddess, according to myth she was extremely beautiful. She was so gorgeous that she caught the eye of the sun god. Theoretically many women would have loved to be the object of affection for a god such as Apollo, but for Daphne, this was a fate that she never desired. 

According to The Collector, the "love story" between Apollo and Daphne is actually more of a tragedy. While it is true that Apollo falls in love with Daphne, it was not just happenstance that brought them together.

Unrequited love meets a tragic end

As The Collector explains, another Greek god, Cupid, shot both Apollo and Daphne with two of his arrows. The problem was, Apollo got shot with the love arrow, while Daphne got shot with the hate and disgust arrow. So while Apollo fell madly, head-over-heels in love with the nymph to the point of obsession, she was doing everything in her power to avoid him and his advances.

We all know situations of unrequited love don't usually work out well, and spoiler alert, this one didn't either. Because of his new emotions and desires, Apollo physically chased Daphne, professing his love. However, Daphne was not having any of it, and ran from him like her life depended on it, because in some ways it did — Daphne was "sworn to remain a virgin," per The Collector.

Daphne also knew that she couldn't outrun him forever, so she cried out to her father, Peneus, the river god, to destroy her beauty so Apollo could not claim her. Just as Apollo catches her, her father answers her plea and turns her into a stunning Laurel tree. This didn't quell Apollo's desires, though. Therefore, he made the Laurel tree his sacred tree, and the leaves of the Laurel tree became a symbol of status in Greek mythology.