NARCISSUS

ΝΑΡΚΙΣΣΟΣ

A son of Cephissus and the nymph Liriope of Thespiae. He was a very handsome youth, but wholly inaccessible to the feeling of love. The nymph Echo, who loved him, but in vain, died away with grief. One of his rejected lovers, however, prayed to Nemesis to punish him for his unfeeling heart. Nemesis accordingly caused Narcissus to see his own face reflected in a well, and to fall in love with his own image. As this shadow was unapproachable Narcissus gradually perished with love, and his corpse was metamorphosed into the flower called after him narcissus. This beautiful story is related at length by Ovid (Met. iii. 341, &c.). According to some traditions, Narcissus sent a sword to one of his lovers, Ameinias, who killed himself with it at the very door of Narcissus' house, and called upon the gods to avenge his death. Narcissus, tormented by love of himself and by repentance, put an end to his life, and from his blood there sprang up the flower narcissus (Conon, Narrat. 24). Other accounts again state that Narcissus melted away into the well in which he had beheld his own image (Paus. ix. 31. § 6); or that he had a beloved twin sister perfectly like him, who died, whereupon he looked at his own image reflected in a well, to satify his longing after his sister. Eustathius (ad Hom. p. 266) says that Narcissus was drowned in the well.

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), English Pre-Raphaelite painter

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), English Pre-Raphaelite painter