The myth of narcissus and echo ( their traces in the modern world)
THE İMPORTANCE OF THE MYTHS A myth is most times a symbolic representation of reality, and its intended to be a guidethat helps us to deal with lifes challenges.In first place, myths have been used by humanssince oral tradition exists, long time before writing was invented. In its primitive origins,myths used to speak about forces of nature, then evolved to stories about gods and heroes.The purpose of those stories was to teach some universal true deducted through observation ofhuman behaviour or constants in how Nature works. This is important because myths aremade to warn us about danger or to bring us hope. In conclusion, mythological characters are seen still in different areas of life in modernworld. We run across instances of words, city names, companies, literary allusions - and manyplanets and constellations - that take their name or borrow their theme from myths. THE MYTH OF ECHO AND NARCİSSUS Several versions of this myth have survived from ancient sources. The classic versionis by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses (completed 8 AD)( ThomasBulfinch,1999). This is the story of Narcissus and Echo. An earlier version ascribed to thepoet Parthenius of Nicaea, composed around 50 BC, was recently rediscovered among theOxyrhynchus papyri at Oxford. Unlike Ovids version, this one ends with Narcissuscommitting suicide. A version by Conon, a contemporary of Ovid, also ends in suicide(Narrations, 24). A century later the travel writer Pausanias recorded a novel variant of thestory, in which Narcissus falls in love with his twin sister rather than himself (Guide toGreece, 9.31.7).Pausanias locates the spring of Narcissus at Donacon Reed-bed in theterritory of the Thespians. Pausanias finds it incredible that someone could not distinguish areflection from a real person, and cites a less known variant in which Narcissus had a twinsister. Both dressed the same and wore the same kind of clothes and hunted together.Narcissus fell in love with her. When she died, Narcissus pined after her and pretended that
the reflection he saw in the water was his sister.As Pausanias also notes, yet another tale isthat the narcissus flower was created to entice Demeters daughter Core away from hercompanions to enable Hades to abduct her.Ovids versionIn Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of a graceful and pretty nymph named Echo wholoved Narcissus in vain. Narcissus beauty was so unmatched that he felt it was godlike inscope, comparable to the beauty of Bacchus and Apollo. As a result, Narcissus spurned Echosaffections until, despairing, she faded away to nothing but a faint, plaintive whisper. To teachthe vain boy a lesson, the goddess Nemesis doomed Narcissus to fall in love with his ownreflection in Echos pond. Entranced by his own beauty and enamoured with his own image,Narcissus lay on the bank of the river and wasted away staring down into the water. Differentversions of the story state that Narcissus, after scorning his male suitors, then was cursed bythe gods to love the first male that he should lay his eyes on. While walking in the gardens ofEcho he discovered the pond of Echo and saw a reflection of himself in the water. Fallingdeeply in love with himself, he leaned closer and closer to his reflection in the water,eventually falling into the pond and drowning.Archaic versionThis, a more archaic version than the one related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is a moraltale in which the proud and unfeeling Narcissus is punished by the gods for having spurned allhis male suitors. It is thought to have been meant as a cautionary tale addressed to adolescentboys. Until recently, the only source for this version was a segment in Pausanias (9.31.7),about 150 years after Ovid.( Thomas Bulfinch,1999) However, a very similar account wasdiscovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri in 2004, an account that predates Ovids versionby at least fifty years.In this story, Ameinias, a young man, loved Narcissus but was scorned.To tell Ameinias off, Narcissus gave him a sword as a present. Ameinias used the sword to
kill himself on Narcissus doorstep and prayed to Nemesis that Narcissus would one day knowthe pain of unrequited love. This curse was fulfilled when Narcissus became entranced by hisreflection in the pool and tried to seduce the beautiful boy, not realizing it was himself he waslooking at. Completing the symmetry of the tale, Narcissus takes his sword and kills himselffrom sorrow. ONE VERSİON OF THE ECHO AND NARCİSSUS MYTH Zeus, the King of the Olympians, was known for his many love affairs. Sometimes theyoung and beautiful Nymph Echo would distract and amuse his wife Hera with long andentertaining stories, while Zeus took advantage of the moment to ravish the other mountainnymphs. When Hera discovered the trickery she punished the talkative Echo by taking awayher voice, except in foolish repetition of anothers shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do wasrepeat the voice of another. Echo fell in love with a vain youth named Narcissus, who was the son of the blueNymph Leiriope of Thespia. The River god Cephisus had once encircled Leirope with thewindings of his streams, and thus trapping her, had seduced the nymph. Narcissus was theirchild. Concerned about the babys welfare, Leirope went to consult the oracle calledTeiresias regarding her sons future. Teiresias told the nymph that Narcissus "would live to aripe old age, as long as he never knew himself." Narcissus was beautiful as a child and grew even more so as he matured. By the age ofsixteen he had left a trail of broken hearts, from rejected lovers of both sexes. Narcissuswanted nothing to do with falling in love with anyone and rebuffed all attempts at romance. One day when Narcissus was out hunting stags, Echo stealthily followed thehandsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When
Narcissus finally heard footsteps and shouted "Whos there?", Echo answered "Whos there?"And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace the lovely youth. He pulled away from the nymph and vainly told her to get lost. Narcissus left Echoheartbroken and she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens, pining away for the love shenever knew, until only her voice remained.(it is where the echo in our daily use come from) A man named Ameinius was one of Narcissus most ardent admirers, and repeatedlyvied for his attention. The conceited youth responded by sending his suitor a sword, tellinghim to prove his adoration. Ameinious proceeded to plunge the sword into his heart,committing suicide to demonstrate his love, but not before he prayed the gods to punish thevain Narcissus. The goddess of the hunt, Artemis, heard the plea and made Narcissus fall in love, but akind a love that couldnt be fulfilled. Narcissus came upon a clear spring at Donacon inThespia and, as he bent low to take a drink, for the first time caught sight of himself reflectedin the pool. Try as he might to touch this exquisite person in the waters, however, he nevercould. For hours he sat enraptured by the spring, at last recognizing himself but tortured bythe realization that he could never possess the object of his infatuation. Narcissus wastormented, much as he had tormented all those who in the past had been unlucky enough tofall in love with him. Finally unable to stand the agony Narcissus plunged a dagger in his heart and died,calling out a last goodbye to his reflected image. Where his blood soaked the earth sprung upthe white narcissus flower with its red corollary. Some other versions finishes the story by saying that „Nymphs began to mourn for thehim,especially the water nypms and prepared a funeral pile and would have burned thebody,but it was nowhere to be found,but in its place a flower.‟(Nick Pontikis, 1988 ).
HOW AND WHERE WE SEE THE NARCISSUS IN THE MODERN WORLD Narcissus lent his name to a destructive personality disorder. A person may havecharm or looks or athletic skill but if he is so fixated on himself that he drives others away andcant even realize that he is the one at fault, he is a narcissist.(Macmullen,C.,2011) Through the years, in literature and film, narcissists have been portrayed as sometimestragic, sometimes evil, but always as people to be pitied or deplored.(Macmullen,C.,2011) Nathan DeWall, associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky,analyzed popular song lyrics over the past 30 years and discovered that the music increasinglyreflects narcissistic tendencies. DeWall said in the interview, "We found there is an increasing focus on me and myinstead of we, our and us.. These song lyrics really mirror cultural changes, personalitytraits, motivations and emotions." DeWall theorized that the effect of listening to all these songs that celebrate thewonder of Me discourages the kind of honesty that is an antidote to narcissism."It reinforces the idea that we need to focus on how people feel about themselves. You cantgive accurate feedback about who they really are," he said. Thats because narcissists do nottake criticism well. They exude confidence, but they are really fragile, DeWall said. If its true that things have gotten worse, as DeWalls study suggests, then an increasein narcissism could explain a lot about destructive trends in our society today.If we couldrecover the picture of the narcissist in classic art and literature as one who is both destructiveand self-destructive and must be confronted, exposed and if necessary, rejected rather thancoddled, we might begin to find our way back to health as a society. THE MYTH OF NARCISSUS IN CINEMA Legendary Scottish-Canadian animator Norman McLaren finished his career with ashort film named "Narcissus", re-telling the Greek legend with a few different elements in the
story.Narcissus appears in the Disney adaptation of Hercules. In the film, he is portrayed as anOlympian god with purple skin.In the film BabAziz, directed by Nacer Khemir, a Narcissuslike character was portrayed by an ancient prince who sat by a pond for days after days andlooked at the reflection of his own soul. He was referred as The prince who contemplated hissoul.Pink Narcissus is an artistic film by James Bidgood about the fantasies of a hustler.Theescape craft Ripley boards in the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien is called the Narcissus.The Portrait of Dorian GRAY (2009) and Narcissus In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dorian Gray is theprotagonist who is narcissistic. Dorian Gary is in many ways a modern retelling of the ancientmyth about Narcissus. In five ways they are very similar: beauty, love, vengeance, death andnarcissism. These stories both have the concept of beauty; Dorian Gary and Narcissus arebeautiful, young and handsome. In The Picture of Dorian Gray the artist Basil Hallwardbelieves that Dorian‟s beauty is the inspiration for all of his art. “Unconsciously he defines forme the lines of a fresh school,” Hallward declared, “a school that is to have in it all passion ofthe romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek.” Narcissus was Greek, so healso in a way influenced Basil. Without a doubt, Dorian and Narcissus were bothdistinguished for their beauty. Dorian and Narcissus have a very similar love plot; both hadone true love: Dorian‟s being Sibyl Vane, and Narcissus‟s being Echo. Sibyl was an actressthat was in love with Dorian, but she was so caught up in her love that she lost her ability toact. Dorian feeling outraged spurns her cruelly, leaving her humiliated, heartbroken and left tokill herself that night. Echo was the nymph that was in love with Narcissus, and wascondemned by the goddess Hera to never speak again, except to repeat whatever was said toher, because of this she was unable to tell Narcissus that she loved him. Like Dorian,Narcissus cruelly refused to accept Echo‟s love because of his anger. Vengeance is a veryimportant device in both stories, because it is eventually what leads to the death of both
Narcissus and Dorian. Aphrodite was so enraged at the death of Echo that he promised to seekrevenge on Narcissus, placing an evil curse upon him which eventually lead to his death.Dorian attempts to seek revenge on Basil, when Basil points out how evil Dorian has become.Dorian couldn‟t take the thought that someone had thought of him as an evil person so hekilled Basil. Both Narcissus and Dorian had an overwhelming amount of self-love, and inother words, they both were narcissistic. Every women or girl fell in love with Narcissus outerbeauty almost immediately. Having this happen to Narcissus all the time gave him a very highopinion of himself. Narcissus was convinced that only a girl as fair as himself was worthy ofhis attention. Dorian wished upon eternal youth while his picture aged. This prayer wasanswered. For every sin he committed, stains were added to the painting while it grew old, buthis own face remained virtuous and appealing. Dorian sold his soul to the devil in order toremain forever beautiful. In the end both Dorian and Narcissus end up dying, due to their ownmistakes. A curse is placed upon Narcissus, allowing him to fall in love with something thatcould not return his love, Narcissus, who did not know of the curse, ended up falling in lovewith his own image, who in turn could not return his own love. The curse was placed uponhim in order to shoe him the love others had for him, and the love he never returned to them.Dorian Gray sold himself to the devil for a pretty face. However it was this face that corruptedhis life and the lives of those around him. Not only did he cause the deaths of others , but alsoto himself. At the end of the novel Dorian realized, or thought he realized that by destroyingthe portrait he would be free, free from the conscience that the portrait had held hidden for somany years. The same knife that had killed the creator of the portrait would kill the painterswork. Dorian Gray is in fact a more modern retelling of the ancient myth of Narcissus. Theyshare the similar outlook on beauty, love, vengeance, death and narcissism. Their love forbeauty had corrupted their lives, as well as other characters that they were close to. Dorian‟slove for Sibyl and Narcissus‟s love for Echo were almost identical and there deaths very much
alike, along with the symbols they left behind. Dorian Gray is a perfect example of a moremodern Narcissus. THE MYTH OF NARCİSSUS İN LITERATURE In Stendhals novel Le Rouge et le Noir (1830), there is a classic narcissist in thecharacter of Mathilde. Says Prince Korasoff to Julien Sorel, the protagonist, with respect tohis beloved girl: She looks at herself instead of looking at you, and so doesnt know you. During the two or three little outbursts of passion she has allowed herself in your favor, she has, by a great effort of imagination, seen in you the hero of her dreams, and not yourself as you really are. (Page 401, 1953 Penguin Edition, trans. Margaret R.B. Shaw). The myth had a decided influence on English Victorian homoerotic culture, via AndréGides study of the myth, Traite du Narcisse (The Treatise of the Narcissus, 1891), and theonly novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Paulo Coelhos The Alchemist also starts with a story about Narcissus, found (we aretold) by the alchemist in a book brought by someone in the caravan. The alchemists (andCoelhos) source was very probably Hesketh Pearsons The Life of Oscar Wilde (1946) inwhich this story is recorded (Penguin edition, p. 217) as one of Wildes inspired inventions.Author and poet Rainer Maria Rilke visits the character and symbolism of Narcissus inseveral of his poems.Seamus Heaney references Narcissus in his poem "Personal Helicon"from his first collection "Death of a Naturalist": "To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring Is beneath all adult dignity." Harry Potter character Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy, was named afterNarcissus, and was described as being incredibly vain and arrogant. Her sister, BellatrixLestrange and cousin Sirius Black were described as being incredibly beautiful before goingto Azkaban, as were all members of the Black family.
William Faulkners character "Narcissa" in "Sanctuary (novel)", sister of HoraceBenbow, was also named after Narcissus. Throughout the novel, she allows the arrogant,pompous pressures of high-class society to overrule the unconditional love that she shouldhave for her brother. Hermann Hesses character "Narcissus" in "Narcissus and Goldmund" shares severalof mythycal narcissus traits, although his narcissism is based on his intellect rather than hisphysical beauty. A. E. Housman refers to the Greek Lad, Narcisuss, in his poem Look not in my Eyesfrom A Shropshire Lad set to music by sevaral English Composers including GeorgeButterworth. At the end of the poem stands a Jonquil, a variety of Daffodil, NarcissusJonquilla, which like Narcissus looks sadly down into the water. El Divino Narciso(Divine Narcissus) by Sor Juana Ines De la Cruz This is a play written by the Mexican nun, Sister Juana Ines of the Cross. In this play,Narcissus is depicted as Christ, whose lost love is Human Nature. Echo is Satan who taintedHuman Nature with sin when she fell from Heaven. Human Nature wandered looking for apure spring so that she could be cleansed of her sins and reunited with Narcissus. Echoattempted to prevent this with the help of her assistants, Pride and Self-Love.( MichelleMariorenzo ,2005)She tried to tempt Narcissus to swear himself to her and give up HumanNature by offering him many gifts, but he rejected her. Human Nature found the spring, andwith the help of Grace (Virgin Mary) hid in the branches of an overhanging tree so that herreflection appeared in the spring. Narcissus came and saw her face (identical to his oncepurified) in the water. He plunged in, swearing his eternal love and giving his life. Heascended to Heaven, and left a white flower (the Eucharist) in his place(Kristin Fleming,2005)
THE MYTH OF NARCİSSUS İN FİNE ARTS Narcissus myth, as a subject, has been undertaken by many artists in the past centuries.The earliest traces of it survived in the Pompeian wall frescoes. Most famous yet are paintingsby such artists, as: Caravaggio, Poussin, Daumier, Moreau, Waterhouse, or morecontemporary - Dali (Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937). Narcissus was also a belovedsubject of many writers, mostly poets, for centuries, DALÍ and The Myth of Narcissus “There was a fountain silver-clear and bright, which neither shepherds nor the wildshe-goats that range the hills, nor any cattles mouth had touched--its waters were unsullied—birds disturbed it not; nor animals, nor boughs that fall so often from the trees.” When we read these lines,an unspoiled place which it is difficult to access,an amazingheaven-like a lake which is too pure and too clean comes to our mind.If we look closely at thelandscape in the painting we see the rocks,mountain,tree on the left side . The figure ofNarcissus emerges at the left of the painting, his vague outlines reflected in the water( hestares at the invisible reflection of himself in the water that he sinks in as mentioned in themyth), his head is resting on his knee,he probably is dying slowly; We get the impression of
the depression and boredom from the setting sun which glisten off back of Narcissus‟shead.He sits in front of the lake motionless without movement,without struggling to live(weknow from the myth that narcissus refused eat or sleep because of the love he fall in,he watchhis reflection without going anywhere until he killed himself) His face in particular, the causeof his vanity, self-absorption and self-reflection, is not seen by us. On the other side, the image of Narcissus transforms into a hand holding an egg fromwhich the flower of the same name would emerge.As we see the flower is breaking throughthe egg shell.(According to what i read from the internet, Dali claimed the flower-bearing eggwas inspired by the Catalan saying “he has a bulb in his head” which refers to someone whohas a mental illness or complex.So I think Dali may want to symbolize the mental illnesscalled Narcisstic Personality Disorder)The hand is cleverly juxtaopesed to imitate Narcissus‟body.The hand represents the hand of water.The knee becomes the thumb, the left armbecomes the index finger, the right shoulder becomes the middle finger, and so forth as seenon the picture. In the back,there are human figures who are standing on the dirt road,we canassume that they are people who try to approach Narcissus and whom he rejectssystematically in the myth.To the right of the painting a sculpture on a red stand on a checkedfloor can be noticed,this can symbolize the individuality and loneliness.A closer observationof the hand and the ground underneath reveals ants,according to what i read from the net antsare a common subject of Dalis paintings.The left side of the painting is significantly brighter,using yellow, red and blue colors. The right side, depicting the transformation of Narcissus isalmost in the shade, painted using dark blue and gray colors.
REFERENCES1. CARY MCMULLEN.(Friday, April 29, 2011 at 12:44 p.m.).Narcissism Obstacle To Fully Living.from http://www.theledger.com/article/20110429/COLUMNISTS/104295001?p=3&tc=pg.2. Rosa Maria Maurell i Constans. (25 December 2005). Dalí and the Myth of Narcissus. In CENTRE FOR DALINIAN STUDIES. from http://www.salvador- dali.org/serveis/ced/articles/en_article8.html.3. Narcissus (mythology). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology).4. Nick Pontikis. (1988 ). MYTH MANS HOMEWORK HELP CENTER. In ECHO & NARCISSUS. from http://thanasis.com/echo.htm.5. Greek Myths & Greek Mythology. In The myth of Narcissus.from http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/narcissus-myth-echo/.6. Thomas Bulfinch.Classic Literature. In Echo and Narcissus from Ch. 13 of Age of Fable Stories of Gods & Heroes. from http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl- etexts/tbulfinch/bl-tbulfinch-age-13-echo.htm.7. The Portrait of Dorian Gray- Inner Beauty to External Beauty. from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/99366.html8. Comparing the Myth in Ovid‟s Echo and Narcissus and Wilde‟s Dorian Gray. from http://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=8400.9. Kristin Fleming and Michelle Mariorenzo . (24 October 05 ). Analysis of El Divino Narciso. In Metamorphoses Project:Tracing Mythology through Time and Place. from http://www.cornellcollege.edu/classical_studies/CLA216-2-A/narcissus- echo/narcissus2b.htm.10. Mythology. From http://www.davidkabraham.com/OldWeb/Beliefs/Education/mythology.htm11. Narcissus. from http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Mythology/Narcissus.html.12. Polona Petek., (2008), Echo and Narcissus: Echolocating the Spectator in the Age of Audience Research,in Cambridge Scholars Publishing(ISBN (10): 1-84718-544-4)