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The myth of Narcissus and Echo - Iseult Gillespie

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One day, Echo was drifting through the woods and fell in love with a handsome young hunter named Narcissus. Cursed by Hera to only repeat the last words spoken by another, Echo was unable to converse with him and was soon cruelly rejected. Heartbroken, she died. Seeing this, the goddess Nemesis decided it was time for retribution. Iseult Gillespie details the myth of Narcissus's punishment.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Serin İnan, Kozmonot Animation Studio
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Gürkan Gürler
  • Animator Tuncay Çetin, İrem Usta
  • Compositor Tolga Yıldız, Serin İnan
  • Art Director Gürkan Gürler
  • Background Artist Kübra Teber
  • Music Deniz Doğançay
  • Sound Designer Deniz Doğançay
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Producer Cella Wright
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The tale of Echo and Narcissus is one of misdirected love. Echo loved someone who could never love her, while Narcissus loved himself all too much. You can read a summary of their troubles here. You can find a deeper dive on their cultural significance here.

The myth is told in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, a collection of poems that describe the transformations of mortals and gods into other entities. You can read this here. The myth is also referenced in Pausanias’ Descriptions of Greece.

Echo is generally depicted as a garrulous and entertaining nymph, who got caught between unfaithful Zeus and wrathful Hera. While Zeus sneaked off with her friends, Echo would distract Hera with tales of scandal. The goddess enjoyed the company, until she discovered Zeus’ own scandalous behavior. Humiliated by the nymph, and powerless to do anything about her husband’s affairs, Hera vowed to silence Echo for good.

Narcissus is portrayed as a devastatingly handsome but oblivious youth, who left a trail of broken hearts in his wake. A strange prophecy was made at his birth: that he would live only if he never “knew himself.” This can be interpreted as a warning against too much self-love, which can lead not to self-knowledge but distortion. When the goddess Nemesis got tired of his antics, she fulfilled the strange prophecy.

Want to hear more stories? Check out our series: Myths from Around the World.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Serin İnan, Kozmonot Animation Studio
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Gürkan Gürler
  • Animator Tuncay Çetin, İrem Usta
  • Compositor Tolga Yıldız, Serin İnan
  • Art Director Gürkan Gürler
  • Background Artist Kübra Teber
  • Music Deniz Doğançay
  • Sound Designer Deniz Doğançay
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Producer Cella Wright
  • See more creators