The myth of Narcissus and Echo - Iseult Gillespie
- 832,741 Views
- 1,989 Questions Answered
- TEDEd Animation
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.
Create and share a new lesson based on this one.
More from Myths From Around the World
lesson duration 05:06