The Naiad Nymph – Daphne – and Immortal Monday

Oh, to love without return. To be pursued without end. This is the story of our immortals, Daphne and Apollo. We explored Apollo a few weeks ago on Immortal Monday, and at that time some interest was expressed in learning more about Daphne.

Image via Wikipedia

Daphne, the daughter of the river god, Peneus, was a lovely Naiad Nymph – a female spirit who presided over bodies of running water: brooks, streams, wells, fountains, springs and the like. The Greek gods would have viewed her as a minor nature deity. But nymphs were often depicted as beautiful, young women who loved to dance and sing. A loving nature that set them apart from the restricted and decorous wives of the Greek people and their gods. A nature that made the nymphs most attractive to many men. I think it’s safe to assume Daphne fit into this category.

A nymph, such as Daphne, was typically bound to a particular place – a stream or pond. And it’s possible that she would have lived out her days in such a place. As a nymph, she is considered to be ageless. She would stay forever beautiful and young, and may never die. But that does not necessarily make her, or any nymph, immortal. They are not truly impervious. But if a nymph were to mate with a god, their offspring could be fully immortal.

Daphne would never have children to test that theory. She was a sweet, vivacious virgin when Apollo angered Eros enough for what came next. Eros, irritated with Apollo’s boosts of being better with the bow and arrow, took two arrows – one tipped in gold and sharp at the edge, another dull and dipped in lead. With the gold he shot Apollo, creating an undying love for Daphne. With the other he shot Daphne, causing unconditional hate where Apollo was concerned. Apollo could chase Daphne to the ends of the nine realms, Daphne would never return his love.

Tired and fearful of Apollo, Daphne prayed and begged for her father’s help. He answered, turning the young Daphne into a laurel tree.  Still enamored with the beautiful nymph, Apollo declared the laurel tree sacred and took leaves from its branches to adorn his attire.

One can learn an important lesson or two from the myth of Daphne and Apollo. Had Apollo not insulted Eros in the first place the whole mess may have been avoided. And even though Apollo was a little out of his mind at this point, had he not relentlessly stalked Daphne, she may not have had to ditch the life she knew for that of a tree. The situation definitely could have been handled better.

For fun, a little short depicting the story between Apollo and Daphne.

Given the choice, would you pick the life of a nymph? Dancing barefoot in nature sounds pretty good to me! What do you think of the myth regarding Daphne and Apollo? Considering the lessons here, should it be required reading for every high school student?

  1. Did you know that nymphs who mated with the god Poseidon, were believed to give birth to the mythical creatures, Cyclops?
  2. Also, the words nymphomania and nymphet are derived from the word nymph.


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37 thoughts on “The Naiad Nymph – Daphne – and Immortal Monday”

  1. Jennette Marie PowellJennette Marie Powell

    Surprised I haven’t heard this story, since I have researched nymphs for a WIP. Interesting to see a mythical stalker! And wow, what a price to be left alone. Yet I can imagine that being stuck in the same locale, even dancing barefoot in nature would eventually get boring. Not as boring as being a tree, though.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      It’s a pretty famous story. I, too, am surprised you didn’t come across it. But, hey! you know it now! You know, we think life as a tree would be pretty boring, but we could be very wrong. Maybe she was content. *shrugs*

  2. Rebecca EnzorRebecca Enzor

    I LOVE this myth – it’s one of my very favorites. My next novel is a contemporary YA re-telling of Apollo and Daphne because I love it so much 🙂 So tragic.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Will you make Apollo a stalker? LOL. Just kidding. That’s really cool, Rebecca. I’m fascinated by stories that are based on old myths. I especially love it when they’re placed in a modern day setting and the author twists things accordingly. I look forward to your YA contemporary. You hit on two things that are big here at this blog – YA and mythology. Yay!

      • Rebecca EnzorRebecca Enzor

        He does become a bit stalkerish, and causes Daphne to drive her car into a tree (I had to figure out some non-magical way to turn her into a tree!). Not a very happy ending, but myths weren’t known for being particularly happy-ending-ish 😛

        • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

          Okay, I reallly like that. Now I want to read it! I don’t require a HEA, so I’m good.

  3. EmmaEmma

    Dancing freely in the great outdoors sounds good to me too.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Have you done it? You should give it a try. I did this once for a documentary my sister was filming for her communications class. Somewhere there is a version of me forever trapped on tape skipping through the trees in a white flowing dress, barefoot. I look totally silly. 😀 There’s nothing like rejoicing with nature.

      • EmmaEmma

        I can’t remember doing it but it’s something we should all do, at least once. That’s a lovely memory of yourself to have, Debra. Not silly, free and alive!

        • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

          I agree, we really should. It gets us back to nature. Something we tend to get too busy to stop and notice sometimes. 🙁

          • EmmaEmma

            I know when you’re stuck indoors doing a 9 to 5 and then writing and blogging on top of that, you don’t see so much nature. I’m going to put on a warm coat and sit outside the back garden later on with a hot cup of tea and a book and just enjoy the fresh air 🙂

            • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

              Smart move. Fresh air can do a world of good. We have lovely chairs on the back porch. We really should use them more often.

  4. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    I like the depiction of nymph life. 🙂 That carefree thing makes me think of one of my fave Grimm stories–the 12 dancing princesses.
    Great post Debra!

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      I can see that, but without the stakes being as high. I love the story of the 12 dancing princesses. I just wish they had each gotten to marry their prince and none had been forced to marry the aged soldier. Bummer.

  5. Melinda VanLoneMelinda VanLone

    Hmmm, life as a nymph. I could get used to that I think. I wouldn’t mind having Apollo stalk me either *grin*

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Oh, Melinda. Me thinks you have a dirty mind at work here. *grins* I think you have what it takes to keep an arrogant god in line, too.

  6. PatriciaPatricia

    Wow – those crazy Greek Gods. And nymphs. The trouble they create because of jealously.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      I know, right? Will they ever learn? They sure make for some great entertainment, though. 😀 Thanks, Patricia.

  7. Daphne ShadowsDaphne Shadows

    I have always been interested in the subject of Daphne and Apollo. First it was because (obviously) I was looking into my name’s origins. Then I became interested in the actual story. And it sure rings true with the “greek tragedy”.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      You win on the name origin. My namesake got turned to dust for disobey God. Learned her lesson the hard way. You got the pure Greek tragedy. Gotta love that to some degree. Thanks so much for stopping in!

  8. Diana BeebeDiana Beebe

    Apollo was such a cad, but Aros was worse because he manipulated them both. Apollo was under the influence. Poor guy. Although, I don’t really feel sorry for him. I can only imagine Daphne’s reaction as she turned into a tree, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, Dad.” Zeus acted first and thought later, didn’t he? 🙂 I actually knew about the Cyclopes.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Yes, poor guy Apollo. But you could tell he was a bit of a cad before the influence took hold. And poor Daphne. Aw, the gods, what are you going to do. It just seems like they were always making bad choices which made for great entertainment to everyone else, but a truly messed up situation for themselves. So sad. Cool that you knew about the Cyclopes. 🙂

  9. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    Okay, so I finally knew one of your tidbits—part two of question two. Woo hoo! No idea about the mating that induced cyclopses!

    Have you seen “Diary of a Nymphomaniac?” It’s a cool foreign film that’s needless to say, very saucy. 😉

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      I have not seen that film. Saucy, you say. Hmm. Are you suggesting it? 😉

  10. Tameri EthertonTameri Etherton

    I’m not sure which one I feel for more – Apollo or Daphne. On the one hand, poor Apollo just wanted to show her his undying love, but on the other hand, she had to go to drastic measures to get away from him. I suppose they both deserve a big, ‘Awww!’. I would love to be a nymph. They seem to have loads of fun and dancing barefoot is always good.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      It really is a messed up situation, isn’t it? It’s hard not to feel bad for all parties involved, except maybe Aros. He could have handled himself better. He didn’t need to involve Daphne. So, we could totally plan a barefoot, dance in the park party. How many odd looks do you think we would get? 😀

  11. Serena Dracis, AuthorSerena Dracis, Author

    Greek mythology is one of my undying favorites. Thank you for reminding of Daphne. I always thought of this one when I was languishing over some dude that had dumped me, or when girlfriends were crying on my shoulder. You can’t make someone love you. If it’s not meant to be you’ll just drive them so far away they’re unreachable.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      It’s so true. We can’t force anything, and should we really want to? That’s not how we want to be loved. We should want it when it’s given freely. It holds much more meaning that way. Really smart of you to turn to that when times were tough growing up. Glad it helped you.

  12. susielindaususielindau

    Cyclops??? Talk about children from Hell! I love this group of mythological creatures!

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Careful. Don’t upset the Cyclopes! LOL. They were responsible for forging Zeus’ thunderbolt and Poseidon’s trident. They played an important part in mythology. 😉

  13. Reetta RaitanenReetta Raitanen

    Poor Daphne. Apollo must have felt horrible afterwards when she became a tree. I wonder if he realized that Eros manipulated him. That confrontation would have been epic.

    And no, I didn’t know that cyclops were children of nymphs and Poseidon. Weird that some of his kids turned out like that when others were divine (like Triton). But Poseidon’s other children were even stranger being horses (like Pegasus). And of course there is a contradicting myth saying that cyclops were sons of Uranos and Gaia. It was never simple with the Greeks.

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      So very true. The Greeks wanted to keep us guessing. And guessing we are. I suppose that there is the possibility of Cyclops being the result of more than one pairing? Who knows. I do recall hearing the myth of Gaia’s anger at their extinction.

      I’m sure you’re right. The fight that would come down between Eros and Apollo would have been EPIC!

  14. Karen RoughtKaren Rought

    This is definitely one of my favorite stories from mythology. 🙂

    • Debra KristiDebra Kristi

      Ah, it is a good one. Good to see you, Karen. 🙂

  1. Love and Desire in the Greek God Eros : Immortal Monday | Debra Kristi's Blog

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