Narcissus was a young man of extraordinary beauty. He was incredibly good-looking. When he was a child, his parents were worried about the future of their child took him to see a blind prophet. The prophet made a prophecy: Narcissus would ‘live a long, healthy life, as long as he never knows himself’.
As he grew up and became a young man, many, many girls were entranced by his beauty, but he rejected them all. The nymph (a kind of minor female god), Echo, also fell in love with him. One day, Echo followed Narcissus through the woods when he was hunting. She longed to speak to him but was too shy to say the first word. Hearing her footsteps behind him, the young man cried out, ‘Who’s there?’ Echo didn’t know what to say, so she just repeated, ‘Who’s there?’ This happened several times. When at last she showed herself to him, she ran to embrace him. But Narcissus laughed at her and pushed her away.
Echo was heartbroken and slowly lost the desire to live. She spent the rest of her living days in mountain valleys thinking only of Narcissus. Echo became weaker and weaker, until there was nothing left of her body. Only her voice, an echo sound, remained in this world.
Nemesis, the Goddess of Revenge, heard the story and decided to punish Narcissus. A short time after meeting Echo, Narcissus went to drink some water from a pool in the woods. Amazed by the beauty of the reflection he saw in the water, he fell in love with his own image. But each time he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to disappear. Narcissus grew thirstier and thirstier but he would not leave or touch the pool of water because he was afraid of losing sight of his reflection. In the end, he died of thirst, and in his place, there appeared the narcissus flower, with its bright face that looks down.
Narcissus is still looking at his reflection in the Underworld (the place where the dead go) today, in the waters of the river Styx.