Daphne was one of the many daughters of the potamoi Peneus. She lived with her father and sisters in Thessaly. Having heard the numerous tales of how the lovers of the gods almost always met with tragic ends, Daphne had sworn off love affair for a long time ago.
Chase of Apollo
One afternoon, Apollo came across with Eros, Aphrodite's son, who happened to be in the form of a child, "playing" with his bow and arrows. Apollo found the sight of Eros' childish form and miniature bow so humorous that he burst into laughter and mocked him, going as far as to show off his own golden longbow and brag about his archery prowess. An indignant Eros then secretly determined to teach Apollo a lesson. The next afternoon when Apollo was walking by the riverside in Thessaly, Eros shot a golden arrow of love straight into Apollo's heart and then shot a lead arrow of indifference into the heart of Daphne, who happened to be bathing nearby.
Apollo fell instantly and hopelessly in love with Daphne, deciding that he had to marry her. Unfortunately for him, she spurned his advances. A chase erupted, with some banter on Apollo's side and though Daphne initially was the faster one, she started to tire. Reaching a dead end, Daphne cried to Gaea for help. The sleeping primordial took pity on her and transformed her into a laurel tree just as Apollo threw his arms around her.
Heartbroken by the transformation that meant he had irrevocably lost Daphne, Apollo burst into sobs of despair and declared that though he had failed to win her love, he still would honor her in his own unique way: he would wear a crown of her leaves and the laurel tree would become a symbol of victory for all time.
Daphne is consistently mentioned throughout the book. Apollo refers to her as one of his two greatest loves and still mourns her loss, to the extent where any reminders - intentional or not - of her would almost reduce him to tears. While he initially blames Eros for his loss of her, Apollo later confesses that he has no one to blame but himself, for he should have let her go when she rejected his courtship.
In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Daphne was described to be beautiful in the typical way that naiads were. However, due to Eros' arrow of love, when Apollo first saw her, he thought she was even more beautiful than Aphrodite.
In The Hidden Oracle, Apollo described Daphne to be a beautiful woman with a lithe form, fair skin, long brown hair, offset green eyes, and a slightly crooked nose. Her scent smelled like also had a lilacs. There was a resemblance between her and Meg McCaffrey.
- Hydrokinesis (formerly): As a naiad, Daphne had considerable control and manipulation over water. However, if the spring she presided over dried out, she could have die of it.
- Superhuman Speed (formerly): Like most nymphs, Daphne developed great speed by escaping from gods. She initially was faster than Apollo during their chase, though he wasn't at his fastest for his love declarations and even then, he eventually caught up.
- Daphne represents dawn, and how Apollo chased her for love represents how dawn ends when the sun is high enough.
- In some versions of the myth, Zeus is the one whom Daphne prays to and turns into a laurel, not Gaea.