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What does a laurel wreath symbolize?

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Quick Answer

A laurel wreath represents victory. This symbolism originated in ancient Greek mythology. Though a sprig of laurel is imprinted upon modern-day Olympic Games medals, the significance of laurel began during the Pythian Games, sacred to Apollo.

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According to Greek myth, the god Apollo mocked Eros, the god of love. In revenge, Eros shot a golden arrow into Apollo that caused him to fall hopelessly in love with the mortal Daphne, who Eros shot with an iron arrow that caused her to forever reject love. Apollo's unrequited love forced him into endless pursuit of a woman who would never accept his advances. Daphne begged to be saved from this fate. The gods transformed her into a laurel tree as an escape. From that day on Apollo wore a laurel wreath made from the leaves of his beloved Daphne. In honor of Apollo, the victor at the god's Pythian Games was crowned with a laurel wreath.

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