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Echo and Narcissus

Echo and Narcissus, illustration by Helen Straton from _A Book of Myths_, 1915. From WikiCommons.

In Ancient Greek mythology, Narcissus was a vain youth who spurned the love of the nymph Echo. Echo had been cursed by Hera to be only able to repeat what others said. So when Narcissus spoke, she repeated what he said. Eventually she showed herself, and rushed to embrace him; but he spurned her.  Echo, heartbroken, pined away, until nothing was left but her voice, which always repeated what others said. Thus the origin of the “echo”.

Narcissus, after spurning Echo, discovered he was in love with his own reflection. Unable to have his “true love”, he killed himself by stabbing himself in the heart. Legend says that where his blood fell, there grew a flower. Some versions of the myth say it was the daffodil, but usually it is thought to be the flower that bears his name: the narcissus. Narcissus is also the origin of the word “narcissistic” meaning “vain” or “caring only about oneself”.



Ceyx and Halcyone

Ceyx and Halcyone, illustration by Helen Stratton, from _A Book of Myths_, 1915. From WikiCommons.

Ceyx and Halcyone are also from Ancient Greek myth. They were husband and wife, and so found of one another that they often referred to each other as “Zeus” and “Hera”. This presumption angered the gods, and Zeus sent a thunderbolt at the ship upon which Ceyx was sailing. The ship sunk and Ceyx drowned. He appeared to his wife, telling her of his fate, and she, in grief, threw herself into the sea to also drown.











Lorelei, illustration by Helen Stratton, from _A Book of Myths_, 1915. From WikiCommons.

Lorelei is actually a “modern” myth. There is a rock on the Rhine that is known by this name, which means “murmuring rock”, so called because the combination of heavy currents and a small waterfall with echoing and amplifying properties of the rock itself caused it to “murmur”.

In 1801, German author Clemens Brentano created a story of a Lore-ley, a beautiful maiden who falls to her death off of the rock, which captures her voice and continues to echo it.

In 1824, Heinrich Heine wrote a poem entitled Die Lore-Ley, telling of a siren who sat on the rock, combing her golden hair and singing. Her singing distracted sailors who then crashed on the rock. This poem became famous German song after being put to music.

Enjoy the illustrations!



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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 at 14:32 (2:32 pm) and is filed under Daily Public Domain Image, Images from other sites. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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