Narcissus is the most handsome man in the world, but he cannot find a woman to fall in love with because every woman who looks at him faints.
Narcissus was the son of a river-god and a nymph, and was thought to be the most handsome man in the world. He was so beautiful to look at that women would faint when they first saw him; then, they often lost their trains of thought in conversations, so Narcissus saw most women as stupid and boring. He often thought to himself that he would never find anyone as good-looking or interesting as he was.
One day, he was lost in the woods when he came across a beautiful nymph. He tried to ask her for the way out of the woods, but she would only repeat the last few words he said. He finally grew to believe she was either mocking him or as stupid as the other women in the world, so he stalked away from her angrily. The nymph was Echo, who had been cursed by Hera to not be able to do anything except repeat the ends of sentences from other people in return for protecting Zeus’ affairs with other wood nymphs. Echo was so heartbroken that Aphrodite decided to get revenge on Narcissus. She declared that he would fall in love with someone he could never have, and spend eternity pining for that person that was unattainable.
Narcissus finally came to a small pool of water and bent down to drink, but in the water, he saw the reflection of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He tried to reach into the pool to grasp her, but the image would disappear. He heard her voice echoing his own thoughts as he moaned in despair over the love he had for the woman in the water. He became so rooted to the ground next to the water that his feet eventually became planted in the ground and he grew into the narcissus bush. The narcissus flowers were the same flowers Persephone was out picking when she was kidnapped by Hades.
Some versions of the myth say that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in the water, and that story of self- obsession is how we got the word “narcissist.”
Kephisos and Liriope
Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!