There are many artistic representations that have been made of the myth of Apollo and Daphne, and possibly the most spectacular and beautiful of all of them is the baroque sculpture made by the greatGian Lorenzo Bernini which we already told you about on another occasion.
Waterhouse's Apollo and Daphne
So today we're going to tell you about that myth but based on a painting, a painting made by the pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse. A painting that is not excessively old, since it is from 1908 but that gathers all the essences of the classic story.
Apollo was very skilled with arrows and the bow, so much so that he went to Mount Parnassus to liquidate the terrible Python snake that had frightened all the fauna of the place. And since he ended up killing that monster, he became a conceited being and considered himself the god of archers, bragging about his feat to excess, tiring the rest of the gods of Olympus. Including Eros, who had an angelic, childish figure and also had a bow, but very small.
That is why on one occasion when Eros and Apollo met, the latter mocked the tiny bow and its tiny arrows. He scoffed so much that Eros, god of love, vowed revenge. So he shot one of the golden arrows into his heart, arrows that cause irrepressible infatuation. In this case, he made Apollo lose his mind over the nymph Daphne.
ButThe revenge consisted in the fact that he threw one of his iron arrows at the beautiful girl, which had the opposite power, provoking rejection. So she had made Apollo love Daphne, and she is refusing the god
Apollo chased her and ran after her, while Daphne ran away from her. And on one occasion, when she was almost going to catch her, the nymph asked her father Peneus for help. Which in the face of her daughter's despair caused her to turn into a tree. More specifically in a laurel. A story that appears in great detail in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
By the time Apollo arrived, his love was already turning into a laurel. That is precisely the moment that Waterhouse represents for us, since we see how the body of the young woman is being integrated into the trunk.
However, Apollo decided to love it anyway, but as a true sacred tree. So much so that he applied his powers to make it a kind of evergreen and always green. And he also made his crown with laurel branches, a tradition that caused generals, rulers, poets or athletes who triumphed in the Olympic Games to receive a laurel crown as a symbol of their victories.