Apollo and Daphne
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Galleria Borghese, Rome
Apollo and Daphne is a life-sized Baroque marble sculpture by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1622 and 1625. Housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the work depicts the climax of the story of Daphne and Phoebus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
When Phoebus (Apollo), fated by Cupid’s love-exciting arrow, sees the maiden daughter of Peneus a river god, he is filled with wonder at her beauty and consumed by desire. But Daphne has been fated by Cupid’s love-repelling arrow and denies the love of men. As the Nymph flees he relentlessly chases her—boasting, pleading, and promising everything. When her strength is finally spent she prays to her father Peneus:
'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 loved the graceful tree, clung to it and kissed the wood:
But since thou canst not be my spouse surely thou shalt be my tree. Thee O laurel my hair, thee my lyres, thee my quivers shall always have … And as my head is youthful with unshorn locks, do thou likewise wear always evergreen honours of foliage. The laurel nodded assent with its branches lately made. §
Michel Houellebecq (via rustedbox)