In Greek mythology, the name is borne by a nymph who transformed herself into a laurel tree rather than be overtaken by the sexual advances of the god, Apollo.
In Greek religion, the laurel became sacred to the god Apollo and the leaves were used to crown the victors of the Pythian Games.
Daphne was the subject of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which elaborated on the myth by claiming that Apollo’s lust was caused by an arrow shot by Eros. A quote from Ovid describing the transformation of Daphne, goes as follows:
“a heavy numbness seized her limbs, thin bark closed over her breast, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet so swift a moment ago stuck fast in slow-growing roots, her face lost in the canopy. Only her shining beauty was left “
The virginity of Daphne was the subject of the Hellenistic poet, Parthenius, in the Erotica Pathemata. Throughout the centuries, Daphne, the nymph, has been the subject of artists. Other variations of the name include:
- Dafna Дафне (Croatian/Serbian)
- Dafné (Czech/Slovak: very rare)
- Daphne (English/German/Dutch)
- Daphné (French)
- Daphne/Daphni Δὰφνη (Greek)
- Daphnis (Greek: Ancient)
- Dafne (Italian/Polish/Portuguese/Spanish/Turkish)
- Dafnė (Lithuanian)
- Dafni (Turkish)
The name is borne by Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) a famous British author and playwrite best known for such works as Rebecca and The Birds. Other notable Daphne’s include Daphne Blake of Scooby-Doo and Daphne Moon on the popular sitcom Frasier. It is also borne by actress Daphne Zuniga.
The designated name-day in France is October 5.