Apollo and Daphne is a story from ancient Greek mythology, retold by Hellenistic and Roman authors in the form of an amorous vignette;
The curse of Apollo, the god of the sun and music, was brought onto him when he insulted the young Eros (a.k.a. Cupid) for playing with bow and arrows.
Apollo was a great warrior and said to him, "What have you to do with warlike weapons? 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 the 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."
The petulant Eros took two arrows, one of gold and one of lead. The gold one was supposed to incite love, while the lead one was supposed to incite hatred. With the leaden shaft, Eros shot the nymph Daphne and with the golden one, he shot Apollo through the heart. Apollo was seized with love for the maiden, Daphne, and she in turn abhorred him. In fact, she spurned her many potential lovers, preferring instead woodland sports and exploring the woods. Her father, Peneus, demanded that she get married so that she may give him grandchildren. However, she begged her father to let her remain unmarried, like Apollo's sister, Artemis.
He warned her saying, "Your own face will forbid it." By saying this he meant that she was too beautiful to keep all her potential lovers away forever.
Apollo continually followed her, begging her to stay, but the nymph continued her flight. They were evenly matched in the race until Eros intervened and helped Apollo gain upon Daphne.
Seeing that Apollo was bound to catch her, she called upon her father, "Help me, Peneus! Open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!"
Suddenly, her skin turned into bark, her hair became leaves, and her arms were transformed into branches. She stopped running as her feet became rooted to the ground. Apollo embraced the branches, but even the branches shrank away from him. Since Apollo could no longer take her as his wife, he vowed to tend her as his tree, 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 also used his powers of eternal youth and immortality to render her ever green. Since then, the leaves of the Bay laurel tree have never known decay.
Apollo and Daphne in Art
Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculpted a very famous baroque, life-sized marble entitled Apollo and Daphne.
In recent literature it has been argued that "The Kiss" of Gustav Klimt is a painting symbolic of the kissing of Daphne by Apollo at the moment she is transformed into a laurel tree (See Vives Chillida, Julio, El beso (los enamorados) de Gustav Klimt. Un ensayo de iconografía; Editorial Lulu.com, junio de 2008, ISBN 978-1-4092-0530-2)