Daphne was a Naiad and a follower of Artemis, who, because of her beauty, attracted the attention of Apollo. Apollo pursued her and just before being overtaken, Daphne pleaded to her father, the river god Ladon for help. He then transformed Daphne into a laurel tree.
Daphne was chaste, and followed the goddess Artemis as one of her handmaidens. Apollo saw her and chased after her. She prayed for help from her the River god Peneus, and was transformed into a laurel (Laurus nobilis): "a heavy numbness seized her limbs, thin bark closed over her breasts, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet so swift a moment ago stuck fast in slow-growing roots, her face was lost in the canopy. Apollo fashioned a laurel wreath from her tree.
At the Pythian Games which were held every four years in Delphi in honour of Apollo, a wreath of laurel gathered from the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly was given as a prize. According to Pausanias the reason for this "simply and solely because the prevailing tradition has it that Apollo fell in love with the daughter of Ladon (Daphne)".