Peneian Daphne was Apollo's first love, which
not blind chance, but Cupid’s savage anger, gave.
Arrogant with the serpent having been conquered, Apollo had recently seen him
bending his bow(s) with his string pulled taut.
He had said, “What [is it] to you with strong weapons,
o silly boy? Those burdens are fitting for our shoulders,
We who can give sure wounds to a wild beast [and] an enemy,
I who just defeated the swollen Python covering so many acres
with its deadly underside, with countless arrows.
You, be satisfied to annoy [some] love [affair] or other
with your torch, and do not lay claim to my praises!”
Venus’ son said to him, “O Apollo, although your bow may pierce
all things, my bow [will pierce] you; and by as much as all
animals yield to a god, by so much is your glory less than mine.”
He spoke and after crashing through the air with beating wings
he quickly took up position on the shadowy peak of Parnasus,
and from an arrow-bearing quiver he drew forth two weapons
of differing purposes: this one repels, that one creates love;
the one which creates [love] is golden and shines with a sharp point,
the one which repels [love] is blunt and has lead under the shaft.
The god fixed the former in the Penean nymph, but with the latter one
he wounded Apollo's marrow through pierced bones.
One suddenly loves, the other flees the name of lover,
rejoicing in the hiding-places of the woods and with the spoils
of captured beasts (and) as an imitator of unmarried Diana:
a ribbon was restraining hair placed without rule.
Many sought her; having rejected those seeking,
impatient and free of a man, she roams the pathless wood,
nor cares for what Hymen, what Love, what marriage may be.
Often her father has said, “daughter you owe me a son-in-law,”
Often her father has said, “daughter, you owe me grandsons”;
Hating matrimonial torches like a crime, she had
colored her beautiful face(s) with modest redness
and clinging with charming arms on her father’s neck
she said, “O dearest father, allow me to enjoy perpetual
maidenhood! Previously Diana’s father allowed this.”
Indeed he complies, but that beauty forbids you to be
what you desire, and your beauty resists your vow.
Apollo loves and desires the marriage of Daphne having been seen,
and which he desires, he hopes, and his own oracles deceive him;
and as light stalks are burned after the harvest has been removed,
as hedges are burned with torches, to which by chance the traveler
either moved too close or has abandoned now at dawn,
thus the god departed into flames, thus in his whole heart
he is burned and he feeds futile love by hoping.
He sees that her hair hangs disarranged at her neck, and
he says, “what if it be arranged?” He sees her flashing eyes
like fire in the stars; he sees her lips, which it is not
enough to have seen, he praises her fingers and hands
and arms and upper-arms with more than the middle naked:
if some things lie hidden, he imagines them better. She flees faster
than a light breeze nor stops at these words calling [her] back:
“I beg you, Penean nymph, remain! I pursue not as an enemy;
nymph, remain! Thus the lamb [flees] the wolf, thus the deer
the lion, thus the doves flee the eagle on a trembling wing;
each flees it own enemies: love is the cause of my pursuit!
Miserable me! Lest you undeserving to be injured fall headlong,
[lest] briars mark your shins, and I be the cause of your pain!
The places wither you hasten are harsh: I pray that you more gently
run and restrain your escape, I myself will pursue more gently.
Yet examine whom you please: [I'm] not an inhabitant of a mountain,
I am not a shepherd, nor uncouth do I guard herds and flocks.
You don’t know, o thoughtless one, you don’t know whom you
flee, and therefore you flee: to me the land of the Delphi
and Claros and Tenedos and the royal palace of Patara are devoted;
Jupiter is my father: what will be, [what] was, and [what] is
is revealed through me; through me songs harmonize with strings.
Indeed our arrow is sure, yet surer than ours [is]
the one arrow which has made wounds in my empty heart!
Medicine is my invention, and I'm said [to be] aid-bringer through
the world, even power of plants was put under our [control].
Woe to me, because love is curable by no herbs
nor the skills which benefit all benefit their master!”
With fearful running, Daphne fled him about to say more,
and she left the unfinished words with him himself;
then also she seemed graceful, the winds were exposing her body,
and her garments were fluttering exposed to opposing breezes,
and a light breeze was giving her hair(s) [to be] driven back,
and beauty was increased in flight. But indeed, the young man god
doesn't endure to further waste his flatteries, and as Love himself
warned, he pursues her footprints with his stride let go.
As when a Gallic dog has seen a hare in an empty field,
and this one seeks prey with its feet, that one safety;
one like one about to grasp, now and now hopes to hold it,
and grazes its footprints with his stretched-out snout;
the other is in doubt, whether he was caught, and snatches
himself from the very jaws, and escapes the touching mouth:
thus god and maiden; he is swift with hope, she [is swift] with fear.
Yet helped by the wings of Love, he who pursues
is the swifter and denies her respite and overhangs the back
of the fleeing one and blows on her hair spread on her neck(s).
With her strengths spent she paled and having been conquered
by the effort of swift flight, watching the waves of Peneus,
she said, “Father bring help! O Rivers, if you have divinity,
destroy my shape by which I’ve pleased too much, by changing [it]!”
Having barely finished the prayer, a heavy numbness seizes her limbs,
her soft breasts are girded by thin bark,
her hair grows into foliage, her arms into branches,
her foot, just now so swift, clings by sluggish roots,
her face has the top of a tree: a single splendor remains in her.
Apollo loves this one too and with a right hand placed on the
trunk feels that her heart still trembles under the new bark,
and having embraced the branches as limbs with his own arms
he gives the wood kisses, yet the wood shrinks from the kisses.
The god said to her, since you can't be my bride, at least
you will certainly be my tree! My hair(s) will always have you,
my lyres [will have you], my quivers [will have you], o Laurel;
You will be present for the Roman generals when a happy voice
will sing Triumph, and the Capitoline will see long processions;
the same most loyal guard, by the Augustan doorposts [and]
before doors you'll stand and protect the middle of the oak garland,
and as my head is youthful with unshorn hair(s),
you also, bear always the everlasting honor of your foliage!”
Apollo had finished: The Laurel nodded with her made branches
and she seemed to have shaken her treetop as though a head.
Primus amor Phoebi Daphne Peneia, quem non
fors ignara dedit, sed saeva Cupidinis ira,
Delius hunc nuper, victa serpente superbus,
viderat adducto flectentem cornua nervo
“quid” que “tibi, lascive puer, cum fortibus armis?”
dixerat: “ista decent umeros gestamina nostros,
qui dare certa ferae, dare vulnera possumus hosti,
qui modo pestifero tot iugera ventre prementem
stravimus innumeris tumidum Pythona sagittis.
tu face nescio quos esto contentus amores
inritare tua, nec laudes adsere nostras!”
filius huic Veneris “figat tuus omnia, Phoebe,
te meus arcus” ait, “quantōque animalia cedunt
cuncta deō, tantō minor est tua gloria nostrā.”
dixit et elisō percussis aere pennis
inpiger umbrōsā Parnāsī constitit arce
eque sagittiferā prompsit duo telă pharetra
diversōrum operum: fugat hoc, facit illud amorem;
quod facit, auratum est et cuspide fulget acuta,
quod fugat, obtusum est et habet sub harundine plumbum.
hoc deus in nympha Peneide fixit, at illo
laesit Apollineas traiectă per ossă medullas;
protinus alter amat, fugit altera nomen amantis
silvarum latebrīs captivarumque ferarum
exuviīs gaudens innuptaeque aemula Phoebes:
vitta coercebat positos sine lege capillos.
multi illam petiere, illa aversata petentes
inpatiens expersque viri nemora avia lustrat
nec, quid Hymen, quid Amor, quid sint conubia curat.
saepe pater dixit: “generum mihi, filia, debes,”
saepe pater dixit: “debes mihi, nata, nepotes”;
illa velut crimen taedās exosa iugalēs
pulchra verecundo suffuderat ora rubore
inque patris blandīs haerens cervice lacertīs
“da mihi perpetuā, genitor carissime,” dīxit
“virginitate frui! dedit hoc pater ante Dianae.”
ille quidem obsequitur, sed te decor iste quod optas
esse vetat, votoque tuo tua forma repugnat:
Phoebus amat visaeque cupit conubia Daphnes,
quodque cupit, sperat, suaque illum oracula fallunt,
utque leves stipulae demptis adolentur aristis,
ut facibus saepes ardent, quas forte viator
vel nimis admovit vel iam sub luce reliquit,
sic deus in flammas abiit, sic pectore totō
uritur et sterilem sperando nutrit amorem.
spectat inornatos collo pendere capillos
et “quid, si comantur?” ait. videt igne micantes
sideribus similes oculos; videt oscula, quae non
est vidisse satis; laudat digitosque manusque
bracchiaque et nudos media plus parte lacertos;
si qua latent, meliora putat. fugit ocior aura
illa levi neque ad haec revocantis verba resistit:
“nympha, precor, Penei, mane! non insequor hostis;
nympha, mane! sic agna lupum, sic cerva leonem,
sic aquilam penna fugiunt trepidante columbae,
hostēs quaeque suōs: amor est mihi causa sequendi!
me miserum! ne prona cadas indignave laedi
crura notent sentēs et sim tibi causa doloris!
aspera, qua properas, loca sunt: moderatius, oro,
curre fugamque inhibe, moderatius insequar ipse.
cui placeas, inquire tamen: non incola montis,
non ego sum pastor, non hic armenta gregesque
horridus observo. nescis, temeraria, nescis,
quem fugias, ideoque fugis: mihi Delphica tellus
et Claros et Tenedos Patareaque regia servit;
Iuppiter est genitor; per me, quod eritque fuitque
estque, patet; per me concordant carmina nervis.
certa quidem nostra est, nostra tamen una sagitta
certior, in vacuo quae vulnera pectore fecit!
inventum medicina meum est, opiferque per orbem
dicor, et herbarum subiecta potentia nobis.
ei mihi, quod nullīs amor est sanabilis herbīs
nec prosunt domino, quae prosunt omnibus, artēs!”
Plura locuturum timido Peneia cursu
fugit cumque ipso verba inperfecta reliquit,
tum quoque visa decens; nudabant corpora venti,
obviaque adversas vibrabant flamina vestes,
et levis inpulsos retro dabat aura capillos,
auctaque forma fugā est. sed enim non sustinet ultra
perdere blanditias iuvenis deus, utque monebat
ipse Amor, admisso sequitur vestigia passu.
ut canis in vacuo leporem cum Gallicus arvo
vidit, et hic praedam pedibus petit, ille salutem;
alter inhaesuro similis iam iamque tenere
sperat et extento stringit vestigia rostro,
alter in ambiguo est, an sit conprensus, et ipsis
morsibus eripitur tangentiaque ora relinquit:
sic deus et virgo est hic spe celer, illa timore.
qui tamen insequitur pennis adiutus Amoris,
ocior est requiemque negat tergoque fugacis
inminet et crinem sparsum cervicibus adflat.
viribus absumptis expalluit illa citaeque
victa labore fugae spectans Peneidas undas
“fer, pater,” inquit “opem! si flumina numen habetis,
qua nimium placui, mutando perde figuram!”
vix prece finitā torpor gravis occupat artūs,
mollia cinguntur tenui praecordia libro,
in frondem crinēs, in ramos bracchia crescunt,
pes modo tam velox pigris radicibus haeret,
ora cacumen habet: remanet nitor unus in illa.
Hanc quoque Phoebus amat positāque in stipite dextrā
sentit adhuc trepidare novo sub cortice pectus
complexusque suis ramos ut membra lacertis
oscula dat ligno; refugit tamen oscula lignum.
cui deus “at, quoniam coniunx mea non potes esse,
arbor eris certe” dixit “mea! semper habebunt
te coma, te citharae, te nostrae, laure, pharetrae;
tu ducibus Latiis aderis, cum laeta Triumphum
vox canet et visent longās Capitolia pompās;
postibus Augustīs eadem fidissima custos
ante forēs stabīs mediamque tuebere quercum,
utque meum intonsīs caput est iuvenale capillīs,
tu quoque perpetuōs semper gere frondis honorēs!”
finierat Paean: factis modo laurea ramis
adnuit utque caput visa est agitasse cacumen.