As I was searching for an “E” topic I rediscovered the story of Echo from classical mythology. That one was a particular favorite of mine when I was a kid. Revisiting and sharing the story seems like a fun topic for my first “E” post. I will share a brief rendition of Ovid’s version of the tale. Depending on which version you read there are some little variations. Ovid’s version is fairly detailed, so what I am sharing is only a fraction. If you are intrigued I suggest you read the Ovid version of “Echo and Narcissus” in it’s entirety.

Narcissus was the son of a god and a nymph and he was extremely beautiful and desired by lads and lassies alike. Echo was no exception and she took a liking to Narcissus.

Echo was a special nymph. She had trouble remaining silent when others were speaking but she would never be the first to speak. One day she managed to get on Juno’s bad side, and as a punishment Juno made it so Echo could only repeat back the last few words of anyone’s sentences.

The nymph Echo- painting by Alexandre Cabanel, 1887

So Echo sees Narcissus wandering the countryside and is enflamed with love. Narcissus becomes lost and starts to cry for help, and Echo repeats back the last few words of his cries, which he finds to be rather confusing. Eventually she reveals herself to him, but he runs away in terror.

Echo then pines away for Narcissus. She pines so hard that she begins to waste away, eventually wasting away to nothing but a voice. She is never seen, but she is often heard.

And Narcissus…well, he’s the one that falls in love with his reflection, wastes away, and eventually kills himself over his unrequited love. He also gives us the term narcissism to describe someone who loves themselves way to much.

Echo teaches us to be effective communicators. She teaches that we should listen thoughtfully to what others have to say, but to not be afraid to be the first one to bring ideas and thoughts to the table. She also has a lesson to teach about completely devotional, blinding love.

I hadn’t thought about the myth of Echo for years. She was definitely a fun little nymph to re-enter my brain. I’ll remember her plight better the next time I hear my own echo, or find myself speaking without thinking.

Echo and Narcissus, painting by John William Waterhouse, 1903


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 09:52:14

    I Really liked your blog ! I am reading a book called “Psyche’s Seeds”
    How the 12 principles of soul-based psychology can transform your life
    by Jacquelyn Small–It of course has to do with the archetype help theory presented by Carl Jung.–It is a fantastic read about self healing and re-creation of peace in the soul. It has been very helpful during this time in my spiritual awakening. I very much recommend this book to anyone who seeks a further clarification of their transformation to the pagen life.


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