Hello guys! It’s Maymuna! I’m back! And doing a series of posts about Greek Gods and what they have to do with all those sculptures in Italy. So, you’re probably wondering what Greek Gods have to do with Romans. As the Roman Empire expanded in Ancient Times, they were introduced to other religions, including the Greek’s. So, naturally, they began to adopt foreign customs. The reason there are so many statues of the Greek gods in Rome is that, the Greeks had many stories, now known as myths, about their heroes and gods. So, the Romans changed around some names, just to add their own touch to this foreign culture, changing Athena to Minerva for instance. So there’s the basics, now for the good stuff, the myths!
Today we’re going to talk about Apollo and Daphne, the statue is currently in the Borghese Gallery in Rome.
Now this myth is pretty simple, though it’s not a common myth, like Persephone and Hades, but it’s not a completely obscure myth, but anyway, here we go:
The myth opens on Apollo and Cupid arguing. Apollo was bragging about how he could shoot any target. Cupid was furious.
“I can shoot just as well, dude!” he protested.
“Na,” Apollo said.”You’re not as good as me, at least I doubt it. Sorry dude.”
(Cupid was Aphrodite’s son. He basically went around and shot certain people with his specially crafted love arrows from China, okay so China didn’t exist back as China then technically speaking, but still! He fell in love once, and it wasn’t easy for Psyche, but that’s a different story, and maybe another blog post, wink, wink.)
He could shoot just as well, and he decided that he would prove it.
One day when Apollo was wandering the Earth, singing and probably stringing his lute, Cupid, who was on Mount Olympus, saw him and immediately notched his bow. I don’t even think he thought twice, compared to some ‘pranks’ the Olympian family pulled on each other (cue shudder) this was relatively mild.
He let the arrow fly. It hit Apollo.
Now, the arrows were made to make you fall in love. We don’t know the details, but the arrows were probably engineered to make you fall in love with a the first person you saw, (only Aphrodite can make you fall in love with a mailbox, people!)
Okay, I’m getting off track. So, the arrow hit Apollo, and of course the first person he saw was a nymph. The nymphs always get the raw end of the deal, like Echo and Narcissus, or- sorry, I could go on forever
Her name was Daphne, and I believe she was a wood nymph. Her mother was a wood nymph, and her father, well, his name starts with T I believe. He was a minor river god. The first person Apollo saw was Daphne, and he fell madly in love.
Daphne was just a normal wood nymph, besides being shockingly beautiful (all nymphs are).
As soon as she saw a madly-crazed god running towards her, her first instinct was to run, and she did just that. I mean, what would you have done? Actually let’s not get into this, so where was I?
Oh yes, nymphs are shockingly fast runners, but lovesick gods are faster. She was running in the direction of the river, as that was where her father was. It was close and Apollo was gaining on her, so all these were important factors (the last one being the most important in her case). She ran towards the river. She had a brilliant idea: I’ll ask my dad for help!
(That would seriously backfire, but moving on.)
‘Hey Dad!” she said in her head, (I don’t know the science behind this godly action of telecommunication).
‘Hello sweetheart, have I forgotten your birthday again?’ her father said playfully, (though it probably wasn’t a joke, knowing greek gods, even minor ones, they had habit to forget their children).
‘No Dad, my birthday’s in April, not July.’ Her father frowned (in his undersea home).
‘Because I’m being chased by a madly crazed god! Do you think you could do something about it?’ Her father was a silent for a moment.
‘Here’s the thing darling, I can’t really do something without the gods getting mad at me.’
‘Then could you change me into something?’
‘I could, but the chances are, I won’t be able to change you back.’
Daphne didn’t even hear him, Apollo was gaining on her and all she heard was “I could.”
She didn’t even think.
‘Just do it!’
‘Are you completely sure?”‘ he asked nervously.
‘I am utterly sure! Just do it!’
Just as Apollo caught up to her, her hair started turning hard and green, her arms elongated into branches, and bark started covering her legs.
She had turned into a new kind of tree, a laurel tree.
Now Apollo was tragically upset as you can imagine, and immediately decided to honor Daphne the Nymph No One Ever Heard About (except Apollo’s therapist). He decided to take a crown of laurel leaves, and whenever somebody won something, along with whatever prize, they would be rewarded with a crown of laurel leaves as well.
So, Apollo may have forgotten completely about Daphne, we don’t know. He certainly had many other, er, affairs, all of his own accord.
And I have a inkling that he never did cross Cupid again.
So, there you go, the throughly depressing story about a perfectly happy nymph whose life was ruined by the gods. Hopefully next time we’ll the cover the ever-so cheerful story of Hades and Persephone! See ya then! 🙂