Inspired by Greek Mythology, Mariam Q takes on her own version of what some consider as fairytales from Greece and shares with us her version of the legend of Narcissus for our Twisted Fairy tales theme. Enjoy.
A cruel story to begin with was the story of the damned lovers, both who their fates intertwined in the most peculiar of incidents. A legendary tale, it was, that lived for decades enthralling its listeners with its awe and mystery. How was it that these two lovers end up this way? Narcissus a beautiful flower and Echo a lonely sound vibrating in the emptiest and darkest of places.
Most people know the story of an arrogant man who was far too in love with himself to notice the passion of a young maiden. I know of another one, one that showed true love and compassion.
As Greek legends went, there was a wood nymph by the name Echo who wandered around marveling at the beautiful fields that were bestowed upon her. She was a pretty nymph with a curtain of thick, silky brown hair cascading down her back. Her petite body was adored with the most beautiful emerald green dress made out of leaves, gemstones and exquisite threads. She was always barefoot for she preferred the soft touch of the evergreen and dewy grass. Echo was known to have a great passion to talking and always must have the last word.
While treading softly on the grass, she saw some golden waves intertwining with the green. She bent to touch the golden threads when a sudden movement made them disappear. Before her stood a man, a man she convinced herself, a human…but his beauty said another story; golden hair that crowned his sculpted face gloriously and intense blue eyes. Echo gasped and she pondered if he really was a human. He was a masterpiece, she thought.
“And what beauty treads upon my path?” He said in his velvety deep voice washing over her.
“Echo,” she whispers softly. “And what angel stumbles upon my fields?”
A hearty chuckles escapes his lips as he replies, “I am a mere man, my lady who happens to cross paths with you. I go by the name Narcissus.”
She whispered his name and how melodious it sounded to her.
Echo felt grand for at last she found someone to love and to care for. It was lonely watching over the fields and seldom seeing anyone. This beautiful man swiped her off of her feet and as such they both vowed to see each other everyday and walk these fields together.
Behind the thickness of the trees, in the deepest and most darkest place of the forest, Vengeance watched them blossom with love. They were inseparable and they were both like two musical notes harmonizing each other. She was envious of their love; she never had the chance to find love for nobody loved a mutated nymph. A nymph twisted beyond everything, she harbored nothing but hate and revenge to all lovers. It was Aphrodite who made her this way after Vengeance betrayed the vows of love she gave to a man. Vengeance plotted silently to bring agony and pain to Echo and Narcissus. She wanted to see them suffer.
One day, Vengeance overheard that Jupiter needed an escape before Juno caught him and leashed her rage upon him. Vengeance sought Jupiter and told him she knew of a nymph who can help him flee from Juno’s anger.
“Her name is Echo,” Vengeance said. “She will engage Juno in a conversation and wont quiet down until she has the last word. She is known for her love of talking.”
So, Echo was summoned to converse with Juno while Jupiter took the opportunity to flee. Juno upon hearing of Echo’s treachery cursed her by removing her voice with the exception that she spoke what was spoken to her. Echo was devastated; she could no longer talk to Narcissus and how will she ever let him hear her?
Part of Vengeance’s plan was over and what was left was she jinxes Narcissus and their love was gone. She thought for days, while Echo dwelled in a hidden place away from the sight of Narcissus. She couldn’t bear see him in such a state where she couldn’t speak her own mind but repeat what was said to her.
Narcissus was lost, where was my love? He asked. He looked across the fields, moors and mountains. He looked everywhere and Echo was nowhere to be found. His heart was wounded and he yearned to see her. Vengeance was getting what she wanted and she fed of off their sorrow and grief.
“Young man, is it Echo you are searching for?” Vengeance whispered from within the forest. “Alas, a cruel fate was bequeathed upon the poor nymph.”
“My Echo, where is she?” He said.
“She is hidden, young man, away from sight,” Vengeance said. “She is cursed and damned for life. She betrayed a goddess and that’s the price of a traitor.”
“She would never!” Narcissus roared. “She is pure and virtuous. She is loyal and compassionate. She loves truly and it is her love that makes me live!”
Vengeance laughed mockingly at the naïve man. “Her love? What do you make of it? I can give you more, the love of every maiden that sets her eyes upon you. Imagine! What more could you ask for? Echo is gone and so is your love. Echo betrayed once and how are you sure she won’t stab you in the back? If she did it once, she has the will to do it again.”
Narcissus was startled. Echo could do all that? He felt the color drain out of him as he thought of what might happen. He was a fool and this love was absurd. Vengeance was summoning a spell to make Narcissus fall into her trap and to convince him that Echo was gone.
“Make me the most beautiful man in the world!” he shouted finally trapped in her clutches. “Make all the maidens love me and yearn for me!”
He was made what he wanted to be with a little price, vanity and arrogance accompanied the wish. Echo never stopped loving him even in her doomed state and she was sad to know what became of him.
As usual as they days went by, Echo waited for Narcissus to see her and to notice her. Yet, he was too engrossed in his own beauty to notice anyone. He loved the attention he got from the nymphs. One day she lingered closer and her heard the rustle.
“Who goes here?” He asked.
“Here!” Echo replied.
“Come,” Narcissus said.
“Come!” Echo replied.
“Why do you avoid me? Let us join one another,” he said.
Echo was overjoyed when he said that and she longed that he remembered her. She longed that he knew of all the love she had for him. Echo ran towards him and threw herself upon him.
Narcissus became angry and screamed “Hands off! I’d rather die than you should have me!” He threw Echo on the ground and left her in a mess of a broken heart and agonized feelings. She retreated to the mountains yearning for a love that will never be returned. Her grief killed her and she became nothing but a kind voice that replied to others when they spoke.
Narcissus attracted nymphs and scorned them. He was so vain that the gods grew tired of his cursed behavior. They wanted him to feel how it was to be loved and never loved back. Hence, loving someone that is not real and can never love back.
His last curse and doom was that he fell in love with a projection of himself on the surface of a lake. Narcissus was fascinated with his own reflection, loving it so. He didn’t disturb the tranquil water for he loved staring at this person who he came to love. He didn’t move, or eat for fear that his reflection might disappear. He was spellbound and he wanted to stay there forever. And how the fates have become that the two lovers both die with grief. Narcissus was gone and where his body once was appeared a beautiful flower that for decades carried his name.
The nymphs mourned him but no one as much as Echo did. She truly loved this man no matter how the twisted fate changed him. Echo lost the beauty of young love and Narcissus who he once was. Vengeance reaped revenge wherever she went and she was proudest of this one the most.
Myths and legends spawned together to create stories of things unheard.
Author: Mariam Q