The story of Narcissus

(Ovid, Metamorphoses III, 339 ff.)

One day, Juno goes in search of her husband Jupiter, who she suspects is off frolicking with another nymph. The nymph Echo enables Jupiter’s escape by engaging Juno in conversation. But Juno is no fool. On finding out Echo’s treachery, Juno removes her voice. When Echo spots the beautiful Narcissus, she falls instantly in love and secretly follows him. Yet her curse means she cannot speak to him, but only repeat that which is spoken to her. When Echo rushes forward to embrace Narcissus, he runs away. Echo is devastated and flees to the caves. Yet her voice lives on forever, doomed to always have the last word.

Echo calls upon the gods to make Narcissus feel the pain of unrequited love. When Narcissus glimpses his own reflection in a pond, he believes it to be a beautiful water spirit and falls in love. Yet each time he tries to touch the vision, it disappears. So there he remained until his body eventually withered away, replaced by a flower with white petals and a golden centre.

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