The Downfall of Narcissus

This version is told by the Roman poet Ovid in Metamorphoses, even though Narcissus and other characters are Greek. Narcissus is known for his beauty that many fell in love with and left many women and some men broken hearted. He was born in Thespiae in Boeotia, the son of Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Liriope, asks Tiresias (a prophet) if Narcissus will live to old age. Tiresias answers, “Yes, if he never knows himself.” Echo is a mountain nymph who falls in love with 16 year old Narcissus when spotting him hunting deer in the forest. Echo was unable to speak to Narcissus due to her curse that was cast by Hera.

As you may know Zeus has always been out engaging with other females which makes Hera revengeful in regards to whoever female is involved with Zeus.

One day Zeus was flirting with the nymphs while Echo is put in charge to be the look out and stall Hera (Zeus wife), so that Zeus can escape. Hera realizes Echo’s intention and punishes Echo by taking away her voice to only repeat what ever she hears. So, when Echo fell hopelessly in love with Narcissus all she did was follow him in hoping he will speak to her (stalker much). One day, Narcissus is out with his hunting friends. Narcissus yells to call out to his friends are. Echo excitedly yells back (remember she can only repeat what she hears) and meets up with Narcissus. Narcissus is not thrill to see Echo and tells her to go away.

He mades a rude comment around the lines saying he will rather die then be with her.

Echo runs aways crying into a cave and grief from her broken heart. Her love for Narcissus did not fade and eventually starve to death leaving only her voice, which is a reason why you hear echos in caves.

In the mean while, Narcissus continues to break hearts until Nemesis, goddess of vengeance, overheard the story and decided to punish Narcissus by having Narcissus sees himself in the pond and be fascinated by his own reflection. He tries to convince his reflection (Narcissus thought his reflection was another person, weirdly) to love him as he has many people that wants him. Narcissus eventually gets hungry, but can not leave the pond and then dies which is similar to what happened Echo’s obsession with Narcissus. In some other versions, Narcissus stabs himself or drown. Apparently, no one could find Narcissus body except for the Narcissus flower aka the daffodil.

The Narcissus Flower aka the daffodil

Therefore, this myth teaches us karma in the way how Narcissus treated Echo was the same result that happened to him. Also, narcissistic behavior like how prideful Narcissus was lead to his downfall once he “know himself” (<- prophecy that foretold what will lead to his downfall) . Another version is with Narcissus and Ameinias.

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