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1001 Stories Collection

Echo and Narcissus

Added on 30th June 2020

Oral tradition Ancient Greek myth

An oral story that tells of the cost of being cruel to others.

Story

Echo and Narcissus meet in a forest. Echo quickly falls in love with Narcissus, but he rejects her. Echo is so upset that she withdraws from the world and is reduced to dust. Narcissus is cursed by the gods so that he can only fall in love with his own reflection.

Why we chose it

Echo and Narcissus was one of the stories in The Story Museum’s original audio stories collection.

Where it came from

The version of the story we know best today is the version found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a narrative poem which tells the history of the world from creation to Rome in Ovid’s day and which includes much of the Greek mythology inherited by the Romans. In earlier Greek versions Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection and pines with unrequited love for himself. When he dies his corpse turns into the flowers that bear his name. In another version a young man Aminias falls in love with Narcissus. Narcissus cruelly rejects him and is punished by the goddess Artemis to fall in love with his reflection.

Where it went next

The story of Narcissus and Echo was very popular with Roman artists. In Pompeii almost 50 walls paintings survive. Renaissance artists also portrayed the myth, in particular Caravaggio, painting in the 16th century.

Narcissus gives his name to a flower that grows close to water. The name inspired the character’s name Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter. The character Narcissus also appears in the Disney adaptation of Hercules (1997).

Associated stories

Other myths found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses include the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, the story that Bottom the Mechanicals are preparing to play in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as other well known myths, including Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus and Orpheus and Eurydice.

Added on 30th June 2020

Oral tradition Ancient Greek myth