Old Greek and Roman writers tell of a chaste nymph, Daphne, who was so beautiful and graceful that the god Apollo, when he saw her, fell in love with her charms and would have taken her for himself.
But she, fearing that he would harm her, fled from him. Apollo pursued, but as he was about to catch her, she prayed to the earth goddess, Gaea, to rescue her.
Gaea heard the prayer and opened the earth to receive the frightened maiden. Then, to appease Apollo, she caused to grow from the spot a flowering bush that was thereafter sacred to him, the laurel, which in southern Europe is still known as daphne from the name of the nymph.
The leaves of this plant were made into a garland by the young god and worn by him in memory of his lost love.