Narcissus history

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By Jay Macpherson

As beautiful as Adonis was the ill-fated Narcissus, who from his childhood was loved by all who saw him, but whose pride would let him love no one in return. Atlast one of those who had hopelessly courted him turned and cursed him exclaiming: “May you suffer as we have suffered! May he too love in vain!” The avenging goddess Nemesis heard and approved thisprayer.

There was nearby a clear pool, with shining silvery waters. No shepherd had ever come there, nor beast nor bird nor falling branch marred its surface: the grass grew fresh and green around it,and the sheltering woods kept it always cool from the midday sun.

Here once came Narcissus, heated and tired from the chase, and lay down by the pool to drink. As he bent over the water, his eyesmet the eyes of another young man gazing up at him from the depth of the pool. Deluded by his reflection, Narcissus fell in love with the beauty that was his own. Without thought of food or rest, helay beside the pool addressing cries and pleas to the image, whose lips moved as he spoke, but whose reply he could never catch. Echo came by, the most constant of his disdained lovers. She was anymph who had once angered Hera, the wife of Zeus, by talking too much, and in consequence was deprived of the use of her tongue for ordinary conversation; all she could do was repeat the last words ofothers. Seeing Narcissus lying there, she pleaded with him in his own words. “I will die unless you pity me,” cried Narcissus to his beloved. “Pity me,” cried Echo as vainly to hers. Narcissus neverraised his eyes to her at all, though she remained day after day beside him on the bank, pleading as well as she was able. At last she pined away, withering and wasting unrequited love, till nothing wasleft of her but her voice, which the traveler still hears calling unexpectedly in woods and waste places.

As for the cruel Narcissus, he feared no better. The face that looked back at him from...
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