According to Greek myth, Apollo chased the nymph Daphne
(Greek: Δάφνη, meaning "laurel"), daughter either of Peneus
and Creusa in Thessaly, or of the river Ladon in
Arcadia. 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,
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 elegiac lovers, 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." "Why should she wish to escape? Because she is
Artemis Daphnaia, the god's sister," observed the Freudian
anthropologist Géza Róheim, and Joseph Fontenrose
concurs; 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. The laurel became
sacred to Apollo, and crowned the victors at the Pythian
Games. Most artistic impressions of the myth focus on the
moment of transformation...
（Δάφνη), a fair maiden who is mixed up with various
traditions about Apollo. According to Pausanias (10.5.3) she
was an Oreas and an ancient priestess of the Delphic oracle
to which she had been appointed by Ge. Diodorus (4.66)
describes her as the daughter of Teiresias, who is better
known by the name of Manto. She was made prisoner in the war
of the Epigoni and given as a present to Apollo. A third
Daphne is called a daughter of the rivergod Ladon in Arcadia
by Ge (Paus. 8.20.1; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 6; Philostr. Vit.
Apollon. 1.16), or of the river-god Peneius in Thessaly (Ov.
Met. 1.452; Hyg. Fab. 203), or lastly of Amyclas. (Parthen.
Erot. 15.) She was extremely beautiful and was loved and
pursued by Apollo. When on the point of being overtaken by
him, she prayed to her mother, Ge, who opened the earth and
received her, and in order to console Apollo she created the
ever-green laurel-tree (δάφνη), of the boughs of which
Apollo made himself a wreath. Another story relates that
Leucippus, the son of Oenomaüs, king of Pisa, was in love
with Daphne and approached her in the disguise of a maiden
and thus hunted with her. But Apollo's jealousy caused his
discovery during the bath, and he was killed by the nymphs.
(Paus. 8.20.2; Parthen. l.c.) According to Ovid (Ov. Met.
1.452, &c.) Daphne in her flight from Apollo was
metamorphosed herself into a laurel-tree. - A Dictionary of
Greek and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.