Apollo and Daphne
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Apollo and Daphne
Daphne was Apollo's first love. It was not brought about by accident, but by the malice of Cupid.
Apollo saw the boy playing with his bow and arrows; and being himself elated by his recent victory over Python, he said to him, "What have you to do with warlike weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy of them. Behold the conquest I have won by means of them over the vast serpent who stretched his poisonous body over acres of plain! Be content with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as you call them, where you will, but presume not to meddle with my weapons."
Aphrodite's boy heard these words and rejoined, "Your arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike you." So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus and drew from his quiver two arrows of a different workmanship, one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god Peneus, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart. Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, and she abhorred the thought of loving.
Her delight was in woodland sports and the spoils of the chase. Many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all, ranging the woods, and taking no thought of Eros nor of Hymen. Her father often said to her, "Daughter, you owe me a son-in-law; you owe me grandchildren." She, hating the thought of marriage as a crime, with her beautiful face tinged all over with blushes, threw her arms around her father's neck and said, "Dearest father, grant me this favor, that I may always remain unmarried, like Artemis." He consented, but at the same time said, "Your own face will forbid it."
The god grew impatient to find his wooings thrown away, and, sped by Eros, gained upon her in the race. It was like a hound pursuing a hare, with open jaws ready to seize, while the feebler animal darts forward, slipping from the very grasp.
Her strength begins to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river god: "Help me, Peneus! Open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!"
Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized all her limbs; her bosom began to be enclosed in a tender bark; her hair became leaves; her arms became branches; her foot stuck fast in the ground, as a root; her face became a treetop, retaining nothing of its former self but its beauty.
The nymph changed into a laurel tree.