by Ovid

Start Free Trial

What is the significance of Apollo and Daphne's story in Metamorphoses?

Quick answer:

The story of Apollo and Daphne is significant as an example of transformation, both outward and internal.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like other stories in the Metamorphoses, the story of Apollo and Daphne deals with transformation. In this case, Daphne turns into a tree to escape the unwanted advances of the god Apollo, who due to the machinations of Cupid, has gone mad for the young woman. Even after Daphne transforms, Apollo still gropes and kisses the tree, initially undeterred by Daphne's new appearance.

The Apollo and Daphne story has been interpreted a different number of ways over time. Firstly and most obviously, it shows a contrast between lust and chastity: Apollo, normally a god of light and knowledge, is driven mad by his sexual desire, while the virginal and strong-willed Daphne is unyielding in her resistance. Her transformation into a tree, with its hard bark and strong roots, is a perfect illustration of her unwillingness to give in to Apollo's carnal demands.

The story is also a microcosm of Ovid's description of the transformations that have occurred on a macro level. Humans, initially peaceful in the gold and silver ages, later became cruel, exploitative, and violent as their societies developed, leading to the decadence of the iron age. So, too, is Apollo corrupted, becoming an animalistic predator, making the gods more like human mortals than they might initially seem.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial