Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Apollo and Daphne

Apollo, the Greek god of the sun and music, insulted the young Cupid for playing with his bow and arrows.  Apollo, who was a great warrior said to Cupid, ‘What have you to do with warlike weapons? leave them to the worthy…  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.’

Apollo and Daphne, 1622-25, Marble, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy

Young and arrogant Cupid chose two of his arrows; one gold to rouse love and one lead to spur hate.  Cupid shot the lead arrow into Daphne and the golden one through Apollo’s heart.  Apollo was imprisoned by his love for Daphne for eternity but in turn she was repulsed by the thought of Apollo.  Daphne became so full of contempt for all love that she preferred woodland sport to any lover at all and would flee into the woods to explore from potential suitors.   When Daphne’s father Peneus demanded she marry to give him grandchildren she pleaded to remain unmarried.  Apollo relentlessly pursued Daphne and Daphne continued to flee until Cupid interceded to aid Apollo.  Once Cupid helped Apollo, Daphne could no longer escape and she pleaded with her father Peneus to rescue her to change her so she no longer would be in danger.  Peneus turned her skin to bark, her hair as leaves, her arms became the branches, and she was able to stop running as her feet became the roots to the ground.
Apollo and Daphne, Cast Bronze, Ron Rodgers, Public Art, Fremont, California

Daphne was able to stop running, but Apollo never left her alone because even as a tree he embraced the branches, which moved away from him attempting to escape even then. Apollo took a vow to tend to her even in this form and promised that her leaves would decorate the heads of leaders as crowns and that her leaves were also to be depicted on weapons. Apollo utilized his powers of eternal youth and immortality to render her evergreen. This is the story of the Bay Laurel and the Laurel Wreath which sat/sits on the head of leaders and champions.

Sculpture, Apollo and Daphne, Bernini, 1622-24
Sculpture, Apollo and Daphne, Ron Rogers, Cast Bronze

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