Note on links: the first link takes you to the Theo.com summary of the story. Scroll down and you will find the original classical references including the passages from OVID which are usually the most famous version of the tale. The other links take you to auxiliary interpretations that may be useful.
4. NARCISSUS and ECHO:
Reading: Ovid, Metamorphoses
Bk III:339-358. A nymph whose voice gave rise to the name for a reverberating sound.
Bk III:359-401. Juno limits her powers of speech. She falls in love with Narcissus and is rejected. She dwindles to sound alone.
Bk III:474-510. She pities Narcissus and echoes his farewells and mourns for him and echoes his sister’s lamentations.
Echo claims to love Narcissus. What do you think causes Echo’s love? Is it the real thing? Why or why not? Why do you think Echo continues to love Narcissus in spite of being rejected? Do you feel her actions are justified? Why or why not? Have you ever felt the same way that Echo does? Or the same way that Narcissus does? If so, how did you act? How would you act if you could go back and do it again? Why? What does the story of Echo and Narcissus suggest about the role of love in ancient culture? How is our modern understanding of love similar and/or different? Is it significant that Narcissus finds his downfall in his own reflection? Why or why not? Why are these two stories intertwined and always told together though each character ends up alone? If “narcissism” is a personality disorder, what is the “echo” equivalent? At the close of Ovid’s version of the story, Narcissus wastes away from lack of nourishment, but in other versions of the myth his character commits suicide. How do these differing endings change your understanding of the myth? Which ending do you prefer, and why?