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Narcissus - Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of the river god of Cephisus. He was born a very beautiful child and upon his birth his mother asked Tiresias if Narcissus would have a long and fulfilling life. Tiresias replied, “If he never knows himself.”

The nymphs of the mountains loved Narcissus and many of them had tried to get him to return their love but he had rejected all of them. One day when Narcissus was out chasing deer in the woods, the nymph Echo saw him. Echo had recently had a curse placed on her by Juno. Juno placed the curse because Echo was very talkative and Juno had suspected one day that her husband was in the mountains with the nymphs. Echo, knowing that her husband was doing what Juno expected, stalled the goddess by talking to her incessantly. Once Juno found out, the curse was placed on Echo that she would never speak her own words again. Instead, she was forced to repeat whatever was said to her.

It was because of this curse that when Echo saw Narcissus in the woods one day, she could not speak to him. Instead, she needed to wait for him to say, “Who’s here?” to which Echo replied, “here.” Narcissus asked her to show herself and upon revealing who she was Narcissus shunned her. Echo ran into the woods and is thought to have turned to stone, destined to repeat whatever she hears all throughout the world. One of the nymphs upon hearing that Narcissus had shunned yet another one of them prayed to the gods that he would one day know what it was like to love someone dearly yet never have that love returned. The prayer was answered.

That same day that he shunned Echo, Narcissus came upon a body of water that was crystal-like in its clarity and was completely undisturbed by shepherds or anyone else. Feeling quite thirsty and tired, Narcissus stooped down to take a drink from the beautiful water but what he saw in the water was far more beautiful than the water itself. For there was his own reflection and he thought it to be the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He felt the rejection of the image when he would reach out to touch it or bend down to kiss it and the ripples in the water would make the image appear as it was leaving, only to come back again.

Narcissus did not move from that spot by the water. He was so in love with himself that he died where he was, looking at his own reflection. After he died, the nymphs made a funeral pile and were prepared to bury him but his body was never found. In the place where he sat, he left only a single flower with vibrant yellow petals and a beautifully colored center. This is the flower which today we call Narcissus.


Narcissus

Narcissus mythology.

 The myth of Narcissus.

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