DAPHNIS

ΔΑΦΝΙΣ

1. A Sicilian hero, to whom the invention of bucolic poetry is ascribed. He is called a son of Hermes by a nymph (Diod. iv. 84), or merely the beloved of Hermes. (Aelian, V. H. x. 18.) Ovid (Met. iv. 275) calls him an Idaean shepherd; but it does not follow from this, that Ovid connected him with either tile Phrygian or the Cretan Ida, since Ida signifies any woody mountain. (Etym. Magn. s.v.) His story runs as follows: The nymph, his mother, exposed him when an infant in a charming valley in a laurel grove, from which he received his name of Daphnis, and for which he is also called the favourite of Apollo. (Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. x. 26.) He was brought up by nymphs or shepherds, and he himself became a shepherd, avoiding the bustling crowds of nen, and tending his flocks on mount Aetna winter and summer. A Naiad (her name is different in different writers, Echenais, Xenea, Nomia, or Lyce, -- Parthen. Erot. 29; Schol. ad Theocrit. i. 65, vii. 73; Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. viii. 68; Phylarg. ad Virg. Eclog. v. 20) fell in love with him, and made him promise never to form a connexion with any other maiden, adding the threat that he should become blind if he violated his vow. For a time the handsome Daphnis resisted all the numerous temptations to which he was exposed, but at last he forgot himself, having been made intoxicated by a princess. The Naiad accordingly punished him with blindness, or, as others relate, changed him into a stone. Previous to this time he had composed bucolic poetry, and with it delighted Artemis during the chase. According to others, Stesichorus made the fate of Daphnis the theme of his bucolic poetry, which was the earliest of its kind. After having become blind, he invoked his father to help him. The god accordingly raised him up to heaven, and caused a well to gush forth on the spot where this happened. The well bore the name of Daphnis, and at it the Sicilians offered an annual sacrifice. (Serv. ad Virg. Ecl. v. 20.) Phylargyrius, on the same passage, states, that Daphnis tried to console himself in his blindness by songs and playing on the flute, but that he did not live long after; and the Scholiast on Theocritus (viii. 93) relates, that Daphnis, while wandering about in his blindness, fell from a steep rock. Somewhat different accounts are contained in Servius (ad Virg. Eclog. viii. 68) and in various parts of the Idyls of Theocritus.

2. An Oread nymph who was the oracular priestess of Gaea at Delphi before Apollo assumed control of the oracle. (Paus. x. 5. § 5.)