The Myth of Echo and Narcissus

A Freshman at the University of Southern California, the informant is majoring in archeology. The informant is very interested in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology. He tells the story of a mountain nymph Echo and a beautiful youth, Narcissus, a greek mythological epic.


Kevin: “Echo’s this river nymph who basically…her flaw is that she like talks too much. She like talks over people. So, one day Hera- she’s Zeus’ wife- and Zeus is like cheating on Hera with a bunch of like other Nymphs. So Echo distracts Hera by talking to her, while this is going on. So Hera basically curses Echo when she finds out that, like she was  totally distracting her, and she curses her so she can only repeat what other people say for her, so that’s how you get ‘Echo’.”


Me: “Oh! Got it, got it.”


Kevin: “And then one day she is going to the woods and she sees um Narcissus, and Narcissus is like this hunter and he’s like walking around and she calls out to him, and he basically rejects her because she can’t really communicate with him. And Echo, he sees her, and he’s like frightened by her, and he like rejects her love or whatever, so he find this pool and he like falls in love by looking at himself. He falls in love with himself, and basically he knows he can’t have like himself, so…it’s weird, he just dies in the pool.”


Me: “Doesn’t he like drown or something?”


Kevin: “Maybe. Cause he tries to like kiss himself and he can’t. So, Echo like sees this and she basically gets even more sad when she realizes she can’t have him and that he dies, so she kind of just like withers away. So, she’s like not a person anymore but she still has a voice, and that’s where you get Echo from. And Narcissus becomes a flower. It only grows on the riverbanks because it’s trying to like look at itself. And that’s a real flower.”

I just thought the myth was interesting in that it tied into why these figures are associated to the meanings of their names. This Greek myth deals with themes of love and hybris. In ancient Greek society, it was very important for people to worship Gods and not be hubristic or arrogant, so the myth could be implying that because Narcissus was super shallow and in love with himself, he suffered the most unfortunate fate. In this version, Echo seems to be cursed for deceiving Hera, who is a Goddess. Because she challenged a God, she too, has to pay the consequences for the rest of her life.

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