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Narcissus and Echo
By Ovid (43 BC-AD 17)
From Book III of Metamorphoses
A Study Guide
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Setting
Characters
Type of Work
Themes
Climax
Fulfillment of the Prophecy
Writing Style
Verse Format
Translating Latin Works
Story in Latin and English
Questions and Essay Topics
Ovid Biography
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Study Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings... 2008

Type of Work
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The story is part of the third book of Metamorphoses, a long narrative poem by Ovid about mythological, legendary, and historical characters and circumstances that undergo a transformation.

Setting
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The action is set in or near the ancient Greek city of Thespiae in the republic of Boeotia, north of Attica. 

Characters
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Narcissus: Proud youth who rejects the attentions of maidens.
Echo: Mountain nymph who falls in love with Narcissus.
Rhamnusia: Goddess of vengeance, Nemesis.
Liriope: Mother of Narcissus. She is a water nymph often referred to as a Nereid because she is one of the daughter of a sea god, Nereus.
Cephisus: Father of Narcissus. He is a river god.
Tiresias: Blind soothsayer. 
Jupiter: King of the gods. His Greek name is Zeus.
Juno: Queen of the gods. Her Greek name is Hera.
Dryads: Tree-dwelling nymphs who mourn the death of Narcissus.
Naiads: Nymphs dwelling in lakes, rivers, and springs. They mourn the death of Narcissus.

Plot Summary
By Michael J. Cummings 2008
Based on a 1717 English Translation by John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and Others

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One day the river god Cephisus impregnates the water nymph Liriope after forcing himself upon her. After she gives birth to a boy, called Narcissus, she asks the prophet Tiresias whether her child will have a long life. “If e’er he knows himself,” Tiresias answers, “he surely dies.”

Liriope does not understand this perplexing reply. Only the passage of time will reveal it to her. 


When Narcissus turns sixteen, he is so extraordinarily handsome that young maidens burn with desire for him. While hunting in the woods, he attracts the attention of the mountain nymph Echo, who was robbed of the ability to voice her thoughts after incurring the wrath of the queen of the gods, Juno. Here is what happened.


The king of the gods, Jupiter, had once persuaded Echo to distract Juno with idle conversation so that he could sneak away and meet with a paramour. At the appointed time, Echo jabbers on, depriving Juno of the opportunity to spy on Jupiter. Later, when Juno discovers what Echo was up to, she punishes her by rendering her incapable of speaking any words except the last two or three she has heard someone else say. These she must repeat. Consequently, she speaks only “with mimick [mimic] sounds, and accents not her own.”


Upon seeing Narcissus, she—like other maidens—cannot resist his charms and yearns to reveal to him her love. But, bearing the heavy burden of Juno’s curse, she can only repeat his last words in a voice that sounds like his. When words he speaks reverberate back to him, he calls out to meet with whoever is mimicking him. Heartened, Echo approaches him and, by throwing her arms around him, communicates her love. However, Narcissus, proud and vain, coldly rejects her. He will not deign to occupy his time with this lowly maid. Thereafter, she pines away for his love until nothing is left of her except the sound of her mimicking voice. “Her bones are petrify'd, her voice is found / In vaults, where still it doubles ev'ry sound."


Meanwhile, another love-struck admirer seeks his love, but proud Narcissus ignores the suit. Frustrated and angry, the suitor prays to the gods, “Oh may he love like me, and love like me in vain!" The goddess of vengeance, known by the names of Rhamnusia and Nemesis, hears the prayer and decides to answer it. The occasion for the retribution comes when Narcissus is out hunting again and, hot and tired, decides to rest next to a pristine fountain surrounded by pleasant verdure and high trees that provide cooling shade. When he bends over the fountain to quench his thirst, he sees in the water a wondrous face and immediately falls in love with it, unaware that he is looking at himself. 
The well-turn'd neck and shoulders he descries,
The spacious forehead, and the sparkling eyes;
The hands that Bacchus might not scorn to show,
And hair that round Apollo's head might flow;
With all the purple youthfulness of face,
That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass.
Narcissus kisses the reflection and tries to pull it out of the water, to no avail. Nevertheless, he remains at the fountain, forsaking sleep and food. He cries out in desperation:
"You trees," says he, "and thou surrounding grove,
Who oft have been the kindly scenes of love,
Tell me, if e'er within your shades did lye [lie]
A youth so tortur'd, so perplex'd as I?
I, who before me see the charming fair,
Whilst there he stands, and yet he stands not there."
Narcissus then thinks the image must feel the same way he does, frustrated with longing for an embrace but unable to gain one. Finally, he realizes what is happening:
Ah wretched me! I now begin too late
To find out all the long-perplex'd deceit;
It is my self I love, my self I see.
Still, he cannot turn his eyes from the fountain. When he cries, his tears disturb the waters, and the reflection blurs and wrinkles. Narcissus rips off his garment and beats at his chest. His unrequited love is killing him.
As wax dissolves, as ice begins to run,
And trickle into drops before the sun;
So melts the youth, and languishes away,
His beauty withers, and his limbs decay;
And none of those attractive charms remain,
To which the slighted Echo su'd in vain.
Echo sees and pities him. When he cries, "Ah youth! belov'd in vain," Echo replies, “Ah youth! belov'd in vain." After he dies, nymphs prepare an urn to hold his ashes. However, when they look for it, they find a beautiful flower in its place. 






Themes
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Excessive Pride

Narcissus is excessively proud, believing that Echo and other admirers worthy of his attentions. In ancient Greece, excessive pride was a grave sin that ultimately causes the downfall of those who exhibit it. 

Unrequited Love

Echo wastes away after Narcissus refuses to return her love. Narcissus withers and turns into a flower after realizing that the image in the fountain is merely a reflection in the fountain and, therefore, incapable of expressing love.

Vengeance

Rhamnusia (Nemesis), the goddess of vengeance, punishes Narcissus by making him fall in love with his own image. Juno punishes Echo by robbing her of the ability to voice her thoughts.

Male Abuse of Females

Cephisus rapes Liriope. Jupiter is unfaithful to Juno. Narcissus cruelly rejects the attentions of Echo.

Climax and Fulfillment of the Prophecy
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The climax occurs when Narcissus realizes that he has fallen in love with his own reflection. This realization of his self-love fulfills the prophecy of Tiresias.
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Style and Verse Format
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Although he based the tales in Metamorphoses on existing stories, Ovid presents them with a freshness and originality that made them uniquely his own. His writing is vivid, elegant, and succinct, with the storiesincluding "Narcissus and Echo"generally moving swiftly from beginning to end without tedious digressions or inflated language.

Metamorphoses was highly popular with readers of the Augustan age (27 BC to AD 14, when Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire) and became one of the best read books of the Renaissance, influencing Shakespeare and other prominent writers. The themes and motifs are as timely today as they were 2,000 years ago. 


Ovid wrote Metamorphoses in heroic hexameter, the dignified verse format of ancient epic poetry. Heroic hexameter consists of unrhymed lines that each contain six feet. Each foot is either a dactyl (a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables) or a spondee (two stressed syllables). The number of syllables per line varies depending on the number of dactyls and spondees in it. 


A dactyl tends to accelerate the narrative in the same way that an allegro and a presto accelerate music; a spondee tends to slow the narrative like an adagio in music. Ovid chose dactyls more often than spondees so that the narrative moves along briskly. 

English Translations of Latin Works

When translating Latin classics into English, writers generally interpret the Latin words rather than presenting a verbatim rendering of them. One reason for this approach is that Latin inflection and word order differ substantially from English inflection and word order. 

Another reason is that there is no Latin equivalent of the English definite article (a, an, or the). Consider the following Latin phrase:

oculus dexter. Oculus means eye, and dexter means right. However, the phrase in English does not mean eye right; rather, it means the right eye. As you can see, Latin places the adjective after the noun, not before it, and it does not use an article before the noun. In addition, a verb in a Latin sentence or phrase usually has a different position than a verb in an English phrase or sentence. Consider the following Latin sentence: Poeta puellam amat. A word-for-word literal translation renders it as Poet girl loves. However, its correct translation is The poet loves the girl.

There are many other differences
too numerous to discuss herebetween Latin and English. As a result of these differences, translators of Latin literary works try to capture the spirit of them rather than presenting a literal rendering of them. In addition, they may change the meter of a verse work and add rhyme to it. For example, the following English translation of "Narcissus and Echo" uses pentameter with iambic feet rather than hexameter with dactylic or spondaic feet. It also contains end rhyme. 

Narcissus and Echo
By Ovid

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Background

In Book III of Metamorphoses, Ovid first tells other stories about mythological figures, including the blind prophet Tiresias, famous in all the cities of Aonia for his ability to see the future. In making the transition from the story about Tiresias to the story of Narcissus and Echo, Ovid notes that the first person ever to seek out Tiresias for a prophecy is a water nymph, Liriope, who gave birth to a boy, called Narcissus, after the river god Cephisus raped her. Liriope wants Tiresias to tell her whether the boy will live a long life.
 

English
From a 1717 Translation of Metamorphoses by John Dryden, 
Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, William Congreve, and Others
Fam'd far and near for knowing things to come,
From him [Tiresias] th' enquiring nations sought their doom;
The fair Liriope his answers try'd,
And first th' unerring prophet justify'd.
This nymph the God Cephisus had abus'd,
With all his winding waters circumfus'd,
And on the Nereid got a lovely boy,
Whom the soft maids ev'n then beheld with joy.
The tender dame, sollicitous to know
Whether her child should reach old age or no,
Consults the sage Tiresias, who replies,
"If e'er he knows himself he surely dies."
Long liv'd the dubious mother in suspence,
'Till time unriddled all the prophet's sense.
Narcissus now his sixteenth year began,
Just turn'd of boy, and on the verge of man;
Many a friend the blooming youth caress'd,
Many a love-sick maid her flame confess'd:
Such was his pride, in vain the friend caress'd,
The love-sick maid in vain her flame confess'd.
Once, in the woods, as he pursu'd the chace [chase, hunt]
The babbling Echo had descry'd his face;
She, who in others' words her silence breaks,
Nor speaks her self but when another speaks.
Echo was then a maid, of speech bereft,
Of wonted speech; for tho' her voice was left,
Juno a curse did on her tongue impose,
To sport with ev'ry sentence in the close.
Full often when the Goddess might have caught
Jove and her rivals in the very fault,
This nymph with subtle stories would delay
Her coming, 'till the lovers slip'd away.
The Goddess found out the deceit in time,
And then she cry'd, "That tongue, for this thy crime,
Which could so many subtle tales produce,
Shall be hereafter but of little use."
Hence 'tis she prattles in a fainter tone,
With mimick sounds, and accents not her own.
This love-sick virgin, over-joy'd to find
The boy alone, still follow'd him behind:
When glowing warmly at her near approach,
As sulphur blazes at the taper's touch,
She long'd her hidden passion to reveal,
And tell her pains, but had not words to tell:
She can't begin, but waits for the rebound,
To catch his voice, and to return the sound.
The nymph, when nothing could Narcissus move,
Still dash'd with blushes for her slighted love,
Liv'd in the shady covert of the woods,
In solitary caves and dark abodes;
Where pining wander'd the rejected fair,
'Till harrass'd out, and worn away with care,
The sounding skeleton, of blood bereft,
Besides her bones and voice had nothing left.
Her bones are petrify'd, her voice is found
In vaults, where still it doubles ev'ry sound.
Thus did the nymphs in vain caress the boy,
He still was lovely, but he still was coy;
When one fair virgin of the slighted train
Thus pray'd the Gods, provok'd by his disdain,
"Oh may he love like me, and love like me in vain!"
Rhamnusia pity'd the neglected fair,
And with just vengeance answer'd to her pray'r.
There stands a fountain in a darksom wood,
Nor stain'd with falling leaves nor rising mud;
Untroubled by the breath of winds it rests,
Unsully'd by the touch of men or beasts;
High bow'rs of shady trees above it grow,
And rising grass and chearful greens below.
Pleas'd with the form and coolness of the place,
And over-heated by the morning chace,
Narcissus on the grassie verdure lyes:
But whilst within the chrystal fount he tries
To quench his heat, he feels new heats arise.
For as his own bright image he survey'd,
He fell in love with the fantastick shade;
And o'er the fair resemblance hung unmov'd,
Nor knew, fond youth! it was himself he lov'd.
The well-turn'd neck and shoulders he descries,
The spacious forehead, and the sparkling eyes;
The hands that Bacchus1 might not scorn to show,
And hair that round Apollo's2 head might flow;
With all the purple youthfulness of face,
That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass.
By his own flames consum'd the lover lyes,
And gives himself the wound by which he dies.
To the cold water oft he joins his lips,
Oft catching at the beauteous shade he dips
His arms, as often from himself he slips.
Nor knows he who it is his arms pursue
With eager clasps, but loves he knows not who.
What could, fond youth, this helpless passion move?
What kindled in thee this unpity'd love?
Thy own warm blush within the water glows,
With thee the colour'd shadow comes and goes,
Its empty being on thy self relies;
Step thou aside, and the frail charmer dies.
Still o'er the fountain's wat'ry gleam he stood,
Mindless of sleep, and negligent of food;
Still view'd his face, and languish'd as he view'd.
At length he rais'd his head, and thus began
To vent his griefs, and tell the woods his pain.
"You trees," says he, "and thou surrounding grove,
Who oft have been the kindly scenes of love,
Tell me, if e'er within your shades did lye
A youth so tortur'd, so perplex'd as I?
I, who before me see the charming fair,
Whilst there he stands, and yet he stands not there:
In such a maze of love my thoughts are lost:
And yet no bulwark'd town, nor distant coast,
Preserves the beauteous youth from being seen,
No mountains rise, nor oceans flow between.
A shallow water hinders my embrace;
And yet the lovely mimick wears a face
That kindly smiles, and when I bend to join
My lips to his, he fondly bends to mine.
Hear, gentle youth, and pity my complaint,
Come from thy well, thou fair inhabitant.
My charms an easy conquest have obtain'd
O'er other hearts, by thee alone disdain'd.
But why should I despair? I'm sure he burns
With equal flames, and languishes by turns.
When-e'er I stoop, he offers at a kiss,
And when my arms I stretch, he stretches his.
His eye with pleasure on my face he keeps,
He smiles my smiles, and when I weep he weeps.
When e'er I speak, his moving lips appear
To utter something, which I cannot hear.
"Ah wretched me! I now begin too late
To find out all the long-perplex'd deceit;
It is my self I love, my self I see;
The gay delusion is a part of me.
I kindle up the fires by which I burn,
And my own beauties from the well return.
Whom should I court? how utter my complaint?
Enjoyment but produces my restraint,
And too much plenty makes me die for want.
How gladly would I from my self remove!
And at a distance set the thing I love.
My breast is warm'd with such unusual fire,
I wish him absent whom I most desire.
And now I faint with grief; my fate draws nigh;
In all the pride of blooming youth I die.
Death will the sorrows of my heart relieve.
Oh might the visionary youth survive,
I should with joy my latest breath resign!
But oh! I see his fate involv'd in mine."
This said, the weeping youth again return'd
To the clear fountain, where again he burn'd;
His tears defac'd the surface of the well,
With circle after circle, as they fell:
And now the lovely face but half appears,
O'er-run with wrinkles, and deform'd with tears.
"Ah whither," cries Narcissus, "dost thou fly?
Let me still feed the flame by which I die;
Let me still see, tho' I'm no further blest."
Then rends his garment off, and beats his breast:
His naked bosom redden'd with the blow,
In such a blush as purple clusters show,
Ere yet the sun's autumnal heats refine
Their sprightly juice, and mellow it to wine.
The glowing beauties of his breast he spies,
And with a new redoubled passion dies.
As wax dissolves, as ice begins to run,
And trickle into drops before the sun;
So melts the youth, and languishes away,
His beauty withers, and his limbs decay;
And none of those attractive charms remain,
To which the slighted Echo su'd in vain.
She saw him in his present misery,
Whom, spight of all her wrongs, she griev'd to see.
She answer'd sadly to the lover's moan,
Sigh'd back his sighs, and groan'd to ev'ry groan:
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," Narcissus cries;
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," the nymph replies.
"Farewell," says he; the parting sound scarce fell
From his faint lips, but she reply'd, "farewell."
Then on th' wholsome earth he gasping lyes,
'Till death shuts up those self-admiring eyes.
To the cold shades his flitting ghost retires,
And in the Stygian waves it self admires.
For him the Naiads and the Dryads mourn,
Whom the sad Echo answers in her turn;
And now the sister-nymphs prepare his urn:
When, looking for his corps, they only found
A rising stalk, with yellow blossoms crown'd

Notes

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1. Roman name for Dionysus, the god of wine, revelry, ecstasy, and vegetation.
2. Reference to the Roman and Greek name for the god of music, poetry, prophecy, and medicine. Apollo was also identified with the sun. In myths and literary allusions, he is often depicted as driving a golden chariot (the sun) across the sky.

Original Latin
Lines 55-166 of Book IV of Metamorphoses

Ille per Aonias fama celeberrimus urbes
inreprehensa dabat populo responsa petenti;
prima fide vocisque ratae temptamina sumpsit
caerula Liriope, quam quondam flumine curvo
inplicuit clausaeque suis Cephisos in undis
vim tulit: enixa est utero pulcherrima pleno
infantem nymphe, iam tunc qui posset amari,
Narcissumque vocat. de quo consultus, an esset
tempora maturae visurus longa senectae,
fatidicus vates 'si se non noverit' inquit.
vana diu visa est vox auguris: exitus illam
resque probat letique genus novitasque furoris.
namque ter ad quinos unum Cephisius annum
addiderat poteratque puer iuvenisque videri:
multi illum iuvenes, multae cupiere puellae;
sed fuit in tenera tam dura superbia forma,
nulli illum iuvenes, nullae tetigere puellae.
adspicit hunc trepidos agitantem in retia cervos
vocalis nymphe, quae nec reticere loquenti
nec prior ipsa loqui didicit, resonabilis Echo.
    Corpus adhuc Echo, non vox erat et tamen usum
garrula non alium, quam nunc habet, oris habebat,
reddere de multis ut verba novissima posset.
fecerat hoc Iuno, quia, cum deprendere posset
sub Iove saepe suo nymphas in monte iacentis,
illa deam longo prudens sermone tenebat,
dum fugerent nymphae. postquam hoc Saturnia sensit,
'huius' ait 'linguae, qua sum delusa, potestas
parva tibi dabitur vocisque brevissimus usus,'
reque minas firmat. tantum haec in fine loquendi
ingeminat voces auditaque verba reportat.
ergo ubi Narcissum per devia rura vagantem
vidit et incaluit, sequitur vestigia furtim,
quoque magis sequitur, flamma propiore calescit,
non aliter quam cum summis circumlita taedis
admotas rapiunt vivacia sulphura flammas.
o quotiens voluit blandis accedere dictis
et mollis adhibere preces! natura repugnat
nec sinit, incipiat, sed, quod sinit, illa parata est
exspectare sonos, ad quos sua verba remittat.
forte puer comitum seductus ab agmine fido
dixerat: 'ecquis adest?' et 'adest' responderat Echo.
hic stupet, utque aciem partes dimittit in omnis,
voce 'veni!' magna clamat: vocat illa vocantem.
respicit et rursus nullo veniente 'quid' inquit
'me fugis?' et totidem, quot dixit, verba recepit.
perstat et alternae deceptus imagine vocis
'huc coeamus' ait, nullique libentius umquam
responsura sono 'coeamus' rettulit Echo
et verbis favet ipsa suis egressaque silva
ibat, ut iniceret sperato bracchia collo;
ille fugit fugiensque 'manus conplexibus aufer!
ante' ait 'emoriar, quam sit tibi copia nostri';
rettulit illa nihil nisi 'sit tibi copia nostri!'
spreta latet silvis pudibundaque frondibus ora
protegit et solis ex illo vivit in antris;
sed tamen haeret amor crescitque dolore repulsae;
extenuant vigiles corpus miserabile curae
adducitque cutem macies et in aera sucus
corporis omnis abit; vox tantum atque ossa supersunt:
vox manet, ossa ferunt lapidis traxisse figuram.
inde latet silvis nulloque in monte videtur,
omnibus auditur: sonus est, qui vivit in illa.
    Sic hanc, sic alias undis aut montibus ortas
luserat hic nymphas, sic coetus ante viriles;
inde manus aliquis despectus ad aethera tollens
'sic amet ipse licet, sic non potiatur amato!'
dixerat: adsensit precibus Rhamnusia iustis.
fons erat inlimis, nitidis argenteus undis,
quem neque pastores neque pastae monte capellae
contigerant aliudve pecus, quem nulla volucris
nec fera turbarat nec lapsus ab arbore ramus;
gramen erat circa, quod proximus umor alebat,
silvaque sole locum passura tepescere nullo.
hic puer et studio venandi lassus et aestu
procubuit faciemque loci fontemque secutus,
dumque sitim sedare cupit, sitis altera crevit,
dumque bibit, visae correptus imagine formae
spem sine corpore amat, corpus putat esse, quod umbra est.
adstupet ipse sibi vultuque inmotus eodem
haeret, ut e Pario formatum marmore signum;
spectat humi positus geminum, sua lumina, sidus
et dignos Baccho1, dignos et Apolline2 crines
inpubesque genas et eburnea colla decusque
oris et in niveo mixtum candore ruborem,
cunctaque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse:
se cupit inprudens et, qui probat, ipse probatur,
dumque petit, petitur, pariterque accendit et ardet.
inrita fallaci quotiens dedit oscula fonti,
in mediis quotiens visum captantia collum
bracchia mersit aquis nec se deprendit in illis!
quid videat, nescit; sed quod videt, uritur illo,
atque oculos idem, qui decipit, incitat error.
credule, quid frustra simulacra fugacia captas?
quod petis, est nusquam; quod amas, avertere, perdes!
ista repercussae, quam cernis, imaginis umbra est:
nil habet ista sui; tecum venitque manetque;
tecum discedet, si tu discedere possis!
    Non illum Cereris, non illum cura quietis
abstrahere inde potest, sed opaca fusus in herba
spectat inexpleto mendacem lumine formam
perque oculos perit ipse suos; paulumque levatus
ad circumstantes tendens sua bracchia silvas
'ecquis, io silvae, crudelius' inquit 'amavit?
scitis enim et multis latebra opportuna fuistis.
ecquem, cum vestrae tot agantur saecula vitae,
qui sic tabuerit, longo meministis in aevo?
et placet et video; sed quod videoque placetque,
non tamen invenio'--tantus tenet error amantem--
'quoque magis doleam, nec nos mare separat ingens
nec via nec montes nec clausis moenia portis;
exigua prohibemur aqua! cupit ipse teneri:
nam quotiens liquidis porreximus oscula lymphis,
hic totiens ad me resupino nititur ore.
posse putes tangi: minimum est, quod amantibus obstat.
quisquis es, huc exi! quid me, puer unice, fallis
quove petitus abis? certe nec forma nec aetas
est mea, quam fugias, et amarunt me quoque nymphae!
spem mihi nescio quam vultu promittis amico,
cumque ego porrexi tibi bracchia, porrigis ultro,
cum risi, adrides; lacrimas quoque saepe notavi
me lacrimante tuas; nutu quoque signa remittis
et, quantum motu formosi suspicor oris,
verba refers aures non pervenientia nostras!
iste ego sum: sensi, nec me mea fallit imago;
uror amore mei: flammas moveoque feroque.
quid faciam? roger anne rogem? quid deinde rogabo?
quod cupio mecum est: inopem me copia fecit.
o utinam a nostro secedere corpore possem!
votum in amante novum, vellem, quod amamus, abesset.
iamque dolor vires adimit, nec tempora vitae
longa meae superant, primoque exstinguor in aevo.
nec mihi mors gravis est posituro morte dolores,
hic, qui diligitur, vellem diuturnior esset;
nunc duo concordes anima moriemur in una.'
    Dixit et ad faciem rediit male sanus eandem
et lacrimis turbavit aquas, obscuraque moto
reddita forma lacu est; quam cum vidisset abire,
'quo refugis? remane nec me, crudelis, amantem
desere!' clamavit; 'liceat, quod tangere non est,
adspicere et misero praebere alimenta furori!'
dumque dolet, summa vestem deduxit ab ora
nudaque marmoreis percussit pectora palmis.
pectora traxerunt roseum percussa ruborem,
non aliter quam poma solent, quae candida parte,
parte rubent, aut ut variis solet uva racemis
ducere purpureum nondum matura colorem.
quae simul adspexit liquefacta rursus in unda,
non tulit ulterius, sed ut intabescere flavae
igne levi cerae matutinaeque pruinae
sole tepente solent, sic attenuatus amore
liquitur et tecto paulatim carpitur igni;
et neque iam color est mixto candore rubori,
nec vigor et vires et quae modo visa placebant,
nec corpus remanet, quondam quod amaverat Echo.
quae tamen ut vidit, quamvis irata memorque,
indoluit, quotiensque puer miserabilis 'eheu'
dixerat, haec resonis iterabat vocibus 'eheu';
cumque suos manibus percusserat ille lacertos,
haec quoque reddebat sonitum plangoris eundem.
ultima vox solitam fuit haec spectantis in undam:
'heu frustra dilecte puer!' totidemque remisit
verba locus, dictoque vale 'vale' inquit et Echo.
ille caput viridi fessum submisit in herba,
lumina mors clausit domini mirantia formam:
tum quoque se, postquam est inferna sede receptus,
in Stygia spectabat aqua. planxere sorores
naides et sectos fratri posuere capillos,
planxerunt dryades; plangentibus adsonat Echo.
iamque rogum quassasque faces feretrumque parabant:
nusquam corpus erat; croceum pro corpore florem
inveniunt foliis medium cingentibus albis.

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Study Questions and Essay Topics
  • Write an essay informing the reader about rejection or avoidance of women as a major motif in literary works. Among the works you may wish to research are Ovid's "Pygmalion," Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost, Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, and Turgenev's Father's and Sons. 
  • Psychologists use the words narcissism, narcissist, and narcissistic when referring to or describing a mental condition or a person exhibiting symptoms of this condition. What are the definitions of these words? 
  • Write an essay focusing on the motif of excessive pride in Greek literature. Among the literary works you may wish to discuss in your essay are the Theban plays of Sophocles.



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