Thursday, July 27, 2017

Narcissus, The man, the myth, the legend

There once was a deity in Greek mythology who was a very handsome hunter. His beauty was known and appreciated by many.

His father was known as Cephissus, a God of the river. He was strong and bold as the Boeotia river that flows through Attica in Central Greece. He was considered brave and strong just like the ravenous river that he was god of his reign.

Cephissus' parents, Pontus, a sea god of the Black Sea, and Thalassa, also known as Nepture and a sea goddess in her own right were known by many in their time. As typical of many children that are born of over bearing gods that have given too much privilege to their offspring without responsibility or accountability, this god was just as spoiled. He was cared for to the extent that he could no longer see the needs of others and desired to feed his own needs exclusively. This river god, Cephissus, believed that he could have anything his heart, or flesh, desired.

There was a daughter of a lesser known river god that took Cephissus' breath away. He thought of this beautiful flower often and was consumed by his need to have her. He looked upon her beauty until he could no longer suppress the strength of his needs and so he took Liriope who was so beautiful to behold. Her name meant Face of the Narcissus, and she was as beautiful as the lilys that bloom.

Time passed and this beautiful flower delivered a beautiful baby boy. This boy grew to be more handsome and strong. He was proud of his looks and his strength. So proud that he began to disdain those around him that loved him. He deserved so much more than their adoration.

There was a woman named Echo who fell deeply in love with Narcissus. His looks were beyond anything she had ever seen ever. She followed him as she could not take her eyes off of him. He sensed her following him and called out to her. Eventually Echo revealed herself to him and told him how he was the most handsome man she had ever seen and she attempted to embrace him. Narcissus would have no part of it and pulled away from her. He chastised her and broke her heart as there was no other that she could love as she does him. She lived the rest of her life in loneliness and misery, pining away for his affection.

Narcissus was sought after by male suitors as well. This particular young man was discarded like so many before him. This time, Narcissus gave him a sword in which the young man used to kill himself on the doorstep. He prayed to the gods to teach Narcissus a lesson for all the pain that he had caused to many.

Nemesis was a vicious goddess of revenge and she learned of the pain that Narcissus was causing people with his beauty. She decided that he needed to be taught a lesson and punished for the pain he inflicted on so many. She lured him by a pond that was as clear as a mirror, reflecting his image back at him. He noticed that reflection and immediately fell in love with his own reflection. He starred at himself for a long time and upon realizing that this love that he felt for his own image could never be reciprocated in return, Narcissus decided to take his own life for he could not see how he could exist.

It is this end that was foretold by Teiresias to his parents when they desired to know of his future. He told them that Narcissus would only grow old provided that 'he did not get to know himself'. According to legend, Narcissus is still admiring himself in the underworld where he can long for the attention of his reflection but never receive the love and admiration of that reflection.


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