Daphne, a nymph and daughter of the river god Peneus, loved to hunt in the deep thickets of the forest.
She preferred to be alone, and she rejected the offers of love and marriage she received from many young men.
One day, the god Apollo noticed Daphne hunting and immediately fell in love.
But as he approached her, Daphne grew terrified of the god and ran for her life. Apollo followed swiftly, yelling to her to not be afraid.
Daphne paid no heed, and Apollo chased her until she was only a few feet from his grasp.
With Apollo’s breath on her shoulder, Daphne screamed to her father for help.
As soon as she spoke, her legs snagged into the earth, bark expanded over her skin, and her outstretched arms sprouted leaves.
To save her, her father had transformed her into a laurel tree.
Apollo, downcast with grief, embraced the tree’s trunk and swore that the laurel tree would become his symbol, and that all victors would wear a crown of laurel leaves.