oil on canvas (50 x 100 cm)
Ovid, Metamorphoses, book I
 Daphne, the daughter of a River God was first beloved by Phoebus, the great God of glorious light. 'Twas not a cause of chance but out of Cupid's vengeful spite that she was fated to torment the lord of light. For Phoebus, proud of Python's death, beheld that impish god of Love upon a time when he was bending his diminished bow, and voicing his contempt in anger said; “What, wanton boy, are mighty arms to thee, great weapons suited to the needs of war? The bow is only for the use of those large deities of heaven whose strength may deal wounds, mortal, to the savage beasts of prey; and who courageous overcome their foes.—it is a proper weapon to the use of such as slew with arrows Python, huge, whose pestilential carcase vast extent covered. Content thee with the flames thy torch enkindles (fires too subtle for my thought) and leave to me the glory that is mine.” To him, undaunted, Venus, son replied; “O Phoebus, thou canst conquer all the world with thy strong bow and arrows, but with this small arrow I shall pierce thy vaunting breast! And by the measure that thy might exceeds the broken powers of thy defeated foes, so is thy glory less than mine.”
 No more he said, but with his wings expanded thence flew lightly to Parnassus, lofty peak. There, from his quiver he plucked arrows twain, most curiously wrought of different art; one love exciting, one repelling love. The dart of love was glittering, gold and sharp, the other had a blunted tip of lead; and with that dull lead dart he shot the Nymph, but with the keen point of the golden dart he pierced the bone and marrow of the God. Immediately the one with love was filled, the other, scouting at the thought of love, rejoiced in the deep shadow of the woods, and as the virgin Phoebe (who denies the joys of love and loves the joys of chase) a maiden's fillet bound her flowing hair,—and her pure mind denied the love of man. Beloved and wooed she wandered silent paths, for never could her modesty endure the glance of man or listen to his love. Her grieving father spoke to her, “Alas, my daughter, I have wished a son in law, and now you owe a grandchild to the joy of my old age.” But Daphne only hung her head to hide her shame. The nuptial torch seemed criminal to her. She even clung, caressing, with her arms around his neck, and pled, “My dearest father let me live a virgin always, for remember Jove did grant it to Diana at her birth.”
 But though her father promised her desire, her loveliness prevailed against their will; for, Phoebus when he saw her waxed distraught, and filled with wonder his sick fancy raised delusive hopes, and his own oracles deceived him.—As the stubble in the field flares up, or as the stacked wheat is consumed by flames, enkindled from a spark or torch the chance pedestrian may neglect at dawn; so was the bosom of the god consumed, and so desire flamed in his stricken heart. He saw her bright hair waving on her neck;—“How beautiful if properly arranged! ” He saw her eyes like stars of sparkling fire, her lips for kissing sweetest, and her hands and fingers and her arms; her shoulders white as ivory;—and whatever was not seen more beautiful must be.
 Swift as the wind from his pursuing feet the virgin fled, and neither stopped nor heeded as he called; “O Nymph! O Daphne! I entreat thee stay, it is no enemy that follows thee—why, so the lamb leaps from the raging wolf, and from the lion runs the timid faun, and from the eagle flies the trembling dove, all hasten from their natural enemy but I alone pursue for my dear love. Alas, if thou shouldst fall and mar thy face, or tear upon the bramble thy soft thighs, or should I prove unwilling cause of pain! The wilderness is rough and dangerous, and I beseech thee be more careful—I will follow slowly.—Ask of whom thou wilt, and thou shalt learn that I am not a churl—I am no mountain dweller of rude caves, nor clown compelled to watch the sheep and goats; and neither canst thou know from whom thy feet fly fearful, or thou wouldst not leave me thus. The Delphic Land, the Pataraean Realm, Claros and Tenedos revere my name, and my immortal sire is Jupiter. The present, past and future are through me in sacred oracles revealed to man, and from my harp the harmonies of sound are borrowed by their bards to praise the Gods. My bow is certain, but a flaming shaft surpassing mine has pierced my heart—untouched before. The art of medicine is my invention, and the power of herbs; but though the world declare my useful works there is no herb to medicate my wound, and all the arts that save have failed their lord.”
 But even as he made his plaint, the Nymph with timid footsteps fled from his approach, and left him to his murmurs and his pain. Lovely the virgin seemed as the soft wind exposed her limbs, and as the zephyrs fond fluttered amid her garments, and the breeze fanned lightly in her flowing hair. She seemed most lovely to his fancy in her flight; and mad with love he followed in her steps, and silent hastened his increasing speed. As when the greyhound sees the frightened hare flit over the plain:—With eager nose outstretched, impetuous, he rushes on his prey, and gains upon her till he treads her feet, and almost fastens in her side his fangs; but she, whilst dreading that her end is near, is suddenly delivered from her fright; so was it with the god and virgin: one with hope pursued, the other fled in fear; and he who followed, borne on wings of love, permitted her no rest and gained on her, until his warm breath mingled in her hair. Her strength spent, pale and faint, with pleading eyes she gazed upon her father's waves and prayed, “Help me my father, if thy flowing streams have virtue! Cover me, O mother Earth! Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.” Before her prayer was ended, torpor seized on all her body, and a thin bark closed around her gentle bosom, and her hair became as moving leaves; her arms were changed to waving branches, and her active feet as clinging roots were fastened to the ground – her face was hidden with encircling leaves.—
 Phoebus admired and loved the graceful tree, (For still, though changed, her slender form remained) and with his right hand lingering on the trunk he felt her bosom throbbing in the bark. He clung to trunk and branch as though to twine. His form with hers, and fondly kissed the wood that shrank from every kiss. And thus the God; “Although thou canst not be my bride, thou shalt be called my chosen tree, and thy green leaves, O Laurel! shall forever crown my brows, be wreathed around my quiver and my lyre; the Roman heroes shall be crowned with thee, as long processions climb the Capitol and chanting throngs proclaim their victories; and as a faithful warden thou shalt guard the civic crown of oak leaves fixed between thy branches, and before Augustan gates. And as my youthful head is never shorn, so, also, shalt thou ever bear thy leaves unchanging to thy glory.” Here the God, Phoebus Apollo, ended his lament, and unto him the Laurel bent her boughs, so lately fashioned; and it seemed to him her graceful nod gave answer to his love.