Pandora’s stories: The tragedy of Narcissus

You will learn the dangers of pride and the hazards of love as you grow older.

One day in Boeotia, Narcissus, son of a river god and a nymph, a hunter renowned for his beauty, was walking in the woods. Echo, a mountain nymph saw him, fell helplessly in love, and followed him. Narcissus, sensing that he was being followed, shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. Eventually she revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. But Narcissus was too proud and turned away all affection; he stepped away and told her to leave him alone. Echo was heartbroken and unable to get over her rejection; she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until she faded into nothing but an echo.

Nemesis, goddess of divine retribution, learned of what had happened and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. At first, not realising that it was only an image, he fell in love with it and was unable to leave its beauty. After eventually realising that his love could not be returned, he took his own life.

Echo and Narcissus, Pompeii

Echo and Narcissus, Pompeii

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