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Daphne and Apollo

Tales beyond belief

The Myth of Daphne and Apollo
In a beautiful palace, far up on Mount Olympus, lived Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, and her pretty little boy, Eros, god of love. Eros was a bright and winning little fellow : but since the truth must be told, be was mischievous, and often did harm by his thoughtless ways. His mother had given him a bow and arrows, and Eros had become quite a skilful archer.

Sometimes, however, he sent his arrows so carelessly that he wounded people without meaning to do so. The arrows were tiny, but the wounds which they made were difficult to heal. One day Eros sat on the rim of a fountain, shooting at the pond-lilies, which seemed to be glancing up at him and filling the air with dainty perfume. All at once, the water of the fountain shone like molten gold. Apollo, the god of light, stood beside it.

When he saw what Eros was doing, he picked up the bundle of arrows, laughed, and carelessly threw them down, breaking several " Why, Eros,"' said Apollo, a are you playing with such warlike weapons? It is not strange that the butterflies and water-spiders have left the fountain today; they have saved their lives by so doing. How many pond-lilies have you killed, my son? " Put these toys away! By and by you shall have a real bow and arrows, like mine, which have just killed the python."

Not only had Apollo broken Eros' arrows, but he had wounded his pride, which was far worse for Eros to endure, and he was very angry. Picking up one of the broken arrows, he said, "Well, Apollo, your arrows may strike everything, but you shall some day be wounded by mine." Apollo laughed, and said that he was not afraid of such tiny weapons.

The fountain, on the rim of which Eros sat, was a very wonderful fountain. Its water dimpled and sparkled in the sunlight, looking so delicious and cool that all who saw it desired to partake of it. And for those who drank this water, a charm was wrought; for it made everybody happy and contented. Enemies became friends, and all cares were forgotten, for it was the fountain of Content.

There was another fountain, too, in Aphrodite's garden, which was filled with bitter water; and very unfortunate indeed was the one who drank of this water, for he became filled with unfriendly feelings toward everybody and everything. He began to dislike his best friends, and sought to do them injury. And this was the fountain of Discontent. The angry Eros, bent upon punishing Apollo, dipped one arrow into the sweet water, and another into the bitter.

Then he followed Apollo down into the beautiful Vale of Tempe, the home of the river-god, Peneus, and his little daughter, Daphne. Daphne was exceedingly pretty, with eyes that shone like stars, dimpled and rosy cheeks, and always full of sunshine. Perhaps that was because she and the sun-god were such good friends, for they talked together, and sang together, while they sat by the river-side.

Apollo told his little friend about the terrible monsters which were sometimes seen from his golden chariot; about the Scorpio with its poisonous claws, and the Bull with its angry horns. When the eyes of the little girl grew round with fright. Apollo told her about the earth and of his own palace, with its gorgeous attendants. Daphne and Apollo had only the kindest of words for each other.

But Eros did a dreadful thing! He shot the bitter arrow at Daphne. It did not hurt badly, but it had the power of changing the feelings of friendship to those of dislike and distrust, He shot the sweetened arrow at Apollo, so that he longed to have Daphne with him always, and even desired to take her away from her home in the Vale of Tempe. So he asked her to leave Peneus and go with him in the chariot. Daphne was very angry that Apollo should ask her to leave the beautiful things which she loved, her home, the birds, and her kind old father; and when the thought could no longer be endured, she turned and ran away.

Apollo followed, for he did not see that Daphne had changed so quickly. They both ran swiftly; but Apollo was the swifter runner of the two, and would surely have overtaken Daphne, but she ran to the river-bank, and throwing up her arms, cried, " Oh, help me, Peneus, my father! I do not wish to leave you. Take me, and send Apollo away."

Peneus heard her, and caused the ground to open. Daphne's feet began to sink into the soft earth. Her outstretched arms became stiff and strong, and her tender flesh and white garments were changed into the trunk and bark of a tree. Instead of her golden hair and pink cheeks, Apollo saw only the green leaves and pink flowers of the laurel. He was deeply grieved. He had not time to ask Daphne the cause of her strange actions before she was lost to sight.

Apollo plucked some of the leaves and twined them about his harp, saying sadly, " Ah, Daphne, if you will not be my friend, you shall be my tree. Boreas shall never change the color of your leaves : they shall always be green; and when great deeds are done, none are more fit than these to crown the victor." And ever since then the laurel has been sacred to Apollo and heroes and great poets are crowned with wreaths of laurel even to this day.

The Legend and Myth about Daphne and Apollo

The Myth of Daphne and Apollo
The story of Daphne and Apollo is featured in the book entitled Stories of Old Greece by Emma M. Firth first published 1895.

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