Today, while listening to Richard Strauss’ opera Daphne and reading some explanation in my mythology text, I noticed some similarities between her and Marcela from Don Quixote. Daphne is (or was) such a well-known tale that it could have been the inspiration for Marcela. You decide:
Companion of Diana, [Daphne]’s joy was in the depths of the forests and the spoils of the chase; a headband kept her flowing hair in place. Many suitors courted her, while she cared not for love or marriage; a virgin she roamed the pathless woods. Her father often said, “My daughter, you owe me a son-in-law and grandchildren”; she, hating the marriage torch as if it were a disgrace, blushed and embraced her father saying, “Allow me, dearest father, always to be a virgin. Jupiter granted this to Diana.” [Her father] Peneus granted her prayer; but Daphne’s beauty allowed her not to be as she desired and her loveliness ran counter to her wish.”
To make a long story short, Apollo, after being struck by Cupid’s arrow, chased after her and to escape, Daphne asked her father to turn her into a laurel tree, which he did. Thereafter, the laurel was always sacred to Apollo and became the symbol of victory. I wonder if this was part of the reason why Cervantes had Marcela, the shepherdess, escape into a forest? Perhaps he also took the theme of unwanted beauty from Daphne.
As for Strauss, I wonder if he borrowed from Cervantes when he had Daphne chased by two shepherds, one real (though he later dresses as a woman to get close to Daphne), the other Apollo disguised as a shepherd (also to get close to Daphne). Interestingly, in Ovid’s account, Apollo tries to convince Daphne with, “Yet consider who loves you; I am not a mountain peasant; I am not an uncouth shepherd who watches here his flocks and herds.”
Whatever their relations, I enjoy seeing these stories and works of art intertwine. Here is one more branch in Daphne’s tree: