Mystical Tales Children

Unrequited love

Have you heard of the term narcissist? It means someone obsessed with oneself. Did you know that this term is derived from a Greek myth? This story also gave us the word echo, which means the repetition or imitation of a sound. Here is the story.

Echo was a beautiful mountain nymph and one of the attendants of the Goddess Artemis. She wasa favourite with Artemis but she had one weakness: she would keep talking constantly and rarely stop.

One day, when Zeus was with the nymphs, Hera came looking for him, as she was very jealous of her husband’s friendship with other women. Echo distracted Hera by talking to her while her friends escaped. When Hera discovered what had happened, she cursed Echo: “Since you cheated me with your tongue, you shall lose all power of speech. In future, all you can do is to repeat the last word you hear.”

Meeting Narcissus

Poor Echo wandered sadly around her beloved forests. One day, she saw a beautiful young man Narcissus, as he came to hunt in the mountains, and fell in love with him. Since she could not speak to him, she began to follow him and Narcissus became aware of that.

“Who’s there?” he called. “There,” repeated Echo. “Show yourself,” he shouted. When Echo came out and he realised that she could only repeat his last word, he mocked her and went away. A grief-stricken Echo slowly faded away until only her voice was left, repeating the last word of whatever was said. Artemis, who was upset at Echo’s fate, became very angry with Narcissus. She cursed that he would know what it was to love and not have it returned.

One day, while hunting, a tired Narcissus chanced upon a beautiful pool of water, as clear as a mirror. Soft green grass grew around it and no steps of animals or humans could be seen. He bent down to get a drink and saw his reflection in the water. Now remember, those were days when people didn’t have mirrors to look at themselves. Narcissus thought he was looking at a beautiful water spirit and fell in love with it. He bent close to kiss and hug it but the minute his lips or hands touched the water, the image faded away. When the water was still, it returned.

Narcissus lost all thought of home, food, rest… and sat by the pool side gazing at the beautiful image. “Why are you so cruel?” he cried. “All I want is your love.” He begged and pleaded but to no avail. Slowly Narcissus too faded away, just like Echo had. He was then turned into a flower that bears his name.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 7:19:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/how-echo-and-narcissus-gave-their-names-to-words-in-the-english-language/article33491030.ece

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