Latona was the daughter of Cæus the Titan and Phœbe, or, according to Homer, of Saturn. As she grew up extremely beautiful, Jupiter fell in love with her; but Juno, discovering their intercourse, not only expelled her from heaven, but commanded the serpent Python to follow and destroy both her and her children. The earth also was caused by the jealous goddess to swear that she would afford her no place in which to bring forth. It happened, however, at this period, that the island Delos, which had been broken from Sicily, lay under water, and not having taken the oath, was commanded by Neptune to rise in the Ægean sea, and afford her an asylum. Latona, being changed by Jupiter into a quail, fled thither, and from this circumstance occasioned it to be called Ortygia, from the name in Greek of that bird. She here gave birth to Apollo and Diana. Niŏbe, daughter of Tantălus, and wife of Amphīon, king of Thebes, experienced the resentment of Latona, whose children Apollo and Diana, at her instigation, destroyed. Her beauty became fatal to Tityus, the giant, who was put to death also by the same divinities. After having been long persecuted by Juno, she became a powerful deity, beheld her children exalted to divine honors, and received adoration where they were adored.
In explanation of the fable, it may be observed, that as Jupiter is taken for the maker of all things, so Latona is physically understood to be the matter out of which all things were made, which, according to Plato, is called Λητω or Latona, from ληθειν to lie hid or concealed, because all things originally lay hid in darkness till the production of light, or birth of Apollo.