Narcissus comes to us today courtesy of Dionne Lister. He was a hunter known for his beauty, and as the son of the river god, Cephissus, and a nymph, it’s no wonder he was so beautiful!

You might not be surprised to know that Narcissus is the origin of our word ‘narcissism’, which means a fixation with oneself. This originates from the tale that Narcissus was lured to a pool where, upon seeing his own reflection, he became so obsessed with it that he was unable to leave. He came to realise his love was hopeless, and committed suicide.

Narcissus was actually lured to the pool by Nemesis, the goddess of revenge. She did so as an act of, you guessed it, revenge. This was because the mountain nymph, Echo, had seen him and fallen deeply in love with him. She would follow him, and when Narcissus asked ‘Who’s there?’, she would repeat his words (get it? She was Echo!).

When Echo finally revealed herself to Narcissus, he rejected her, telling her to leave him alone, and heartbroken she wandered the woods until she had faded away into an ‘echo’.

So the tale brings us not only the word ‘narcissist’, but ‘echo’ and ‘nemesis’. 


Echo and Narcissus (1903), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by John William Waterhouse
This story was recorded by Ovid, but other variations also exist. The version by Conon involves neither Nemesis not Echo, with Narcissus instead spurning a male suitor, who then prays to the gods to teach Narcissus a lesson and promptly commits suicide on Narcissus’s doorstep. Narcissus then dies when he sees his reflection after stopping at a pool to drink, as he can never have the object of his desire.
An even later version involves Narcissus falling in love with his twin sister rather than his own reflection. 

What piece of mythology would you to know more about? Let me know in the comments! 

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