Daphne (mythology)

Apollo and Daphne
   In Greek mythology, Daphne was a nymph, daughter of the river god Peneus. Apollo, in a somewhat overbearing mood, reproved Cupid for playing with bow and arrows. Cupid was determined to show the god that he was able to handle these weapons; so he shot Apollo through the heart with a gold-pointed arrow, thus inspiring him with a violent passion for Daphne. The nymph, however, he shot with a leaden arrow, which made her reject all thoughts of a lover. Apollo pleaded in vain; she would have none of his affection, and persuaded her father to consent to her remaining unmarried all her life. Finally, one day, while Daphne was enjoying some woodland sport, Apollo saw her running, her loosened hair flying in the wind. He immediately pursued her, beg­ging her to run more slowly and not to fear him. Daphne ran her swiftest, but Apollo was swifter. When he was close upon her, she called to her father for aid, and was immediately transformed into a laurel tree. Apollo stood amazed, but realizing what had happened, he embraced the tree, kissed its branches, still trembling with Daphne's fear, and declared that thenceforth this should be his tree, and that he would wear a crown of its leaves which should no more decay, but remain ever green as a symbol of his own eternal youth. In Ovid's version of the story he makes Apollo say that Roman conquerors shall wear the laurel wreath.

 I espouse thee for my tree: 
Be thou the prize of honor and renown; 
The deathless poet, and the poem, crown; 
Thou shalt the Roman festivals adorn, 
And, after poets, be by victors worn. —Ovid.