A Wreath of Laurel: Daphne and Apollo


Imagine wanting someone.

Wanting someone, so much, that you would do anything.

Imagine a desire great enough to inspire the envy of the gods.

Of course, there will be blood.


The river Ladon has figured in Greek mythology from the beginning; Hesiod mentions it in his Theogeny.

Of course, Ladon is more than a river. He’s a god, and with the goddess Earth (Ge/Gaia), he had children. One of those children was the Naiad (water nymph) Daphne.

Daphne was beautiful, but it was a cruel beauty, forged in the wilderness temples of Artemis.

Artemis the Hunter. Artemis the Virgin.

Like the goddess she prayed to, Daphne was also a hunter.

And a virgin.


Poor prince Leucippus,
torn to pieces,
a blood sacrifice
in the mighty river Ladon

All for love,
All for love…


Leucippus infiltrated the cult of Artemis by adorning himself as a woman.

He grew out his hair; he put on female attire; he joined the Hunt.

Soon, Leucippus and Daphne were inseparable.

The god Apollo witnessed this, and grew jealous.

Or maybe it was Cupid’s arrow, dealt upon the god as a rebuke.

Either way, Leucippus had sealed his own fate.


The idea of masquerading as a woman to enter the femme domain has other precedents in Greek mythology; Zeus did the same to seduce Callisto. However, Zeus was divine.

Poor mere mortal Lecippus didn’t stand a chance.


One day, Daphne’s troop visited the river Ladon after the hunt. The women decided to bathe in the sacred river, the same river that had once cleansed Demeter after she was violated by Poseidon.

The same river that was Daphne’s father.

They bared their flesh, as did Leucippus. Maybe he forgot himself; maybe he no longer cared. Either way, he undid his clothing, exposing his manhood.

On seeing his sex, the women tore him to pieces.

Leucippus was stripped of his flesh, left as a bloody offering in the cold waters of the river Ladon.

Flayed alive, in the water’s of Daphne’s father.


Despite Leucippus’ fate, Apollo was aroused.

Strange attractions lie in the hearts of men, let alone the hearts of gods…


Apollo came racing after the girl.

Daphne ran, ran as fast as she could.

She understood his intentions as she went crashing through the forest, heading to her father, the river Ladon.

She cried to her father. She cried to her mother, the Earth. The Earth listened; she opened up, and took Daphne in.

And on that very spot, a grief stricken Apollo found only one trace of the Naiad who he had haplessly pursued.

A parting gift from Daphne: a laurel tree.


Poor prince Leucippus,
torn to pieces,
a blood sacrifice
in the mighty river Ladon

All for love,
All for love…

And now, Apollo mourns as well.


Henceforth, Apollo, son of Zeus, son of Leto, wears a wreath of Laurel; an act of Remembrance for all the love that never was.

For all of the loves that never could be…

For all the loves we have lost…


Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss has been linked to the Apollo/Daphne mythos





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