The first love of Apollo was Daphne 1, who refused him and fled, turning in her flight into a laurel-tree.
Apollo reaches Daphne 1 as she turns into a laurel tree. 0836: Apollo and Daphne. Painting by Giovanni Biliverti, 1576-1644. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.
Love disguised as Friendship
Leucippus 4, son of King Oenomaus 1 of Pisa and brother of Hippodamia 3, the wife of Pelops 1, fell in love with Daphne 1. In order to approach her, however, he decided not to court her openly, for she was believed to avoid the male sex. Instead he wore woman's clothes, and disguised as a maiden joined her, saying that he was a daughter of Oenomaus 1, and that he would like to share her hunting. And since Friendship is allowed to take steps that are alarming when taken by Love, Daphne 1 soon became fond of him, embracing him and clinging to him at all times. And so, because he was thought to be a maiden, surpassed all others in birth and skill in hunting, and besides was very gentle, he drew Daphne 1 into a close friendship.
Death of Leucippus 4
But Apollo, they say,
was also in love with the girl, and out of jealousy
and anger put into her mind to go swimming in the
river Ladon, in western Arcadia, together with the other girls. On their arrival to the river, they all began to strip, and when they noticed that Leucippus 4 was unwilling to do the same, they tore his clothes from him. Then, seeing he was no maid, they felt outraged and killed him with their spears and daggers, for, as they saw it, his friendship was as false as his love was forbidden.
Apollo insults Eros
How did Apollo fall in love with Daphne 1? This happened after a dispute with Eros. For the god of
the silver bow, seeing Eros bending his own bow said to him:
"What are you
doing with the arms of men, you wanton boy ? That
weapon befits my shoulders ... Be content with your
torch to light the hidden fires of love, and lay
not claim to my honours." (Apollo to Eros. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.457).
And to these words of one unexperienced in love, Eros replied:
"Your dart may
pierce all things else, Apollo, but mine shall pierce you; and by
as much as all living things are less than deity,
by so much less is your glory than mine." (Eros to Apollo. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.463).
Eros shoots against Apollo and Daphne 1
Having spoken thus, Eros, flying up to the peak of Mount Parnassus, shot an arrow with a sharp point of gold against the god, thus kindling his love. And taking a blunt dart tipped with lead, he smote the heart of Daphne 1, thus putting her to flight. This is how Eros, using
darts of opposite effect, causes hearts to burn
with pain and despair, or freeze with indifference
Effect of Eros' darts
Since that day Daphne 1 ignored all suitors, not caring for love or wedlock, and only wishing to enjoy perpetual virginity, while Apollo was, for the first
time, consumed by the flames of love. And love,
they say, is more powerful than the gift of
prophecy, for Apollo,
though possessing this gift, could not see that his
pursuit would be fruitless.
The heart cannot change
For the heart that has been pierced by Eros' blunt dart cannot be
conquered, even if the assailant were the son of Zeus, or he who inspires
all sciences and arts, or he who knows harmony and
turn it into music, or he who sees what is to come.
All this and more is Apollo, the greatest
healer of all, and yet unable to heal his own
heart, pierced by Eros with
the sharp golden point.
So when Daphne 1 saw Apollo coming towards
her, she had to escape. And it is said that while Apollo pursued her, she
implored to Zeus to
disappear from sight. And as her prayers were
heard, she was turned into a laurel tree. That was
all that remained of her, but Apollo broke a branch
from the tree, and placing it on his head declared:
cannot be my bride, you shall at least be my tree.
My hair, my lyre, my quiver shall always be
entwined with you, O laurel." (Apollo. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.556).
Namesake: Daphne 2 is daughter of the seer Tiresias.