echo-and-narcissus

there is nothing poetic about clawing at your chest, trying to empty yourself of these poisonous words, coming up with nothing in your palms but blood.
—  excerpt from four things echo knows to be true | published in UNMYTHOLOGIZE

anonymous asked:

Your myth retellings always make me giggle. Could it be possible for you to do Echo or Narcissus? If not it cool, just wondering. Thanks again for making my days brighter. *hugs*

Sweet summer child, that is absolutely something that I can do! 

Anyone who wants to skip a poorly retold story of a ludicrously hot young asshole and a woman who is cursed to accidentally hit on people should press J on their keyboard now, as this is a long post. Historical / literary info under the Read More!

-*-

Our story begins with the birth of a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. Well, actually, our story begins with a man named Teiresias, who used to be a woman who used to be a man and was cursed with blindness by Hera and blessed with prophecy by Zeus for daring to say that women enjoyed sexy times more than men, but that’s another myth for another day.

Anyway, back to the adorable bundle of joy. One day, this baby’s mother, a smoking hot nymph named Liriope, goes over to old man Teiresias and asks him “you’re old as balls, will my sweet baby Narcissus grow to be as old as you?” and Teiresias nods sagely and says “yeah, he’ll be fine to claim a state pension, as long as he never comes to know himself, if you get what I mean” and Liriope just shrugs and says “I actually have no idea what you mean, but I’m sure I’ll find out” and Teiresias does a really enigmatic thing with his arms and says “but you have to find yourself first” and Liriope frowns and she’s like “is that part of the prophecy, or” and Teiresias is like “look, lady, I don’t even want this job, just let me have some fun with it” and Liriope looks at him really strangely and walks away with her ridiculously adorable baby. 

16 years later, that adorable baby boy is no longer an adorable baby boy, because that is how time works. Instead, Narcissus is a tantalisingly hot piece of man. It’s actually ridiculous how attractive he is. All over the realm, there are literally hordes of women and scores of dudes just overheating with lust for his perfectly sculpted cheekbones and the way his hair curls alluringly at the nape of his neck. There is no way of exaggerating just how incredibly, incredibly good-looking this guy is. Imagine every single beautiful thing you’ve ever seen: a rose-hued dawn; an oil-slick sea under a sky threaded with silver; a full box of pizza with the steam still rising off it. Narcissus is all of those things and more. Unfortunately, he’s also a massive arsehole. Whenever one of the millions of girls and boys who want to climb him like a tree eventually plucks up the courage to tell him, he just gags and pretends to throw up, and then starts laughing until they leave in floods of noisy tears, and then he shakes his head and says something like “my wit is as sharp as my cheekbones” and then he high fives himself, because he has embraced a poetic kind of solitude and also it’s hard to make friends when you’re that much of a vain dick.

Narcissus lives on Mount Kithairon, near a forest because he’s basically Snow White apart from the hideous personality defects. In these woods there also lives a nymph named Echo. Echo lays eyes upon Narcissus one day while he’s out frolicking in a manly fashion in the woods, and being a sentient being with both eyes and a pulse, she immediately falls in love and starts fantasising about getting married to him and having his genetically superior children and maybe getting a mortgage and living in wedded bliss until their kids leave for college and the love dies. However, there’s a slight hitch in her plan, and that’s the incredibly inconvenient curse that was placed on her a while ago by Hera.

Around the time Narcissus was first growing beautiful golden tufts of hair under his armpits and staring lustfully at inanimate objects, Echo was playing wingman to Zeus. Basically, Zeus would pick up a honey with legs up to their armpits and an apparent incapability of experiencing basic fear, seeing as Hera, Zeus’ wife, has a really bad habit of viciously murdering and maiming Zeus’ lovers and their extended families. Anyway, when Zeus picked up his saucy companions, he’d go and find Echo and be like “yo, if Hera comes looking for me, can you distract her? I’ll need, like, ten minutes max, you can totally do it, I have complete faith in your bullshitting abilities” and Echo would be like “if I decline, you’ll fry me to death with a lightning bolt, won’t you” and Zeus would say “got it in one, sweet-cheeks, now go and talk to my wife about the political situation in Crete or some shit like that, I don’t know what women talk about these days apart from how good I look in these jeans” and then he’d bugger off and go and make sweet, adulterous love to his latest squeeze, probably in the form of an animal, because that’s how Zeus rolls.

This arrangement worked like a charm for a while, until one day Hera suddenly remembered that actually, she wasn’t a total fucking idiot, and she immediately caught on to what Echo was doing. Echo was like “look, Zeus made me do it, it was a choice between joining his clique or joining his hit-list and honestly I regret the choice I made” and Hera just raised a perfectly groomed eyebrow and said “damn straight you should, you’re on my hit-list now and trust me, my hit-list is way worse than his, for a start I don’t give gift bags” and Echo tries to say something like “you don’t even get a gift bag when you join his clique, what a scam” except what actually came out of her mouth was “give gift bags”, and then Hera cackled evilly and she was like ”I am so diabolical and attractive, good luck helping Zeus distract me now when all you can do is repeat the last few words you hear!” and Echo was like “words you hear” and Hera nodded and said “yeah, words you hear, now run along and tell my husband… oh, I don’t know, I guess just tell him whatever he tells you, seeing as that’s all you can do” and Echo was like “you can do” and Hera just grinned and said “damn straight I can do, I’m the fucking head honcho around here, now run along” and Echo, more humiliated than Hades at a marriage counselling session, ran off and hid in the woods, probably mournfully howling “run along” as she did so, and that was that.

So, back to the present day and the slammin’ bod of Narcissus. Echo, as previously mentioned, totally wants to cut herself a generous slice and serve it for all three courses, but as it turns out, it’s pretty hard to flirt successfully when your pick-up lines are limited to ceaseless repetition, and the object of your affection is about as talkative as post-Apollo Daphne. Therefore, Echo spends most of her days creeping around the place, staring at Narcissus’ abs.

One day, Narcissus is taking some time out of his busy schedule of being devastatingly attractive and being insanely easy on the eye, and he decides to take a masculine stroll down past the river. Echo follows him, because apparently boundaries aren’t a thing in Ancient Greece, and after a little while, Narcissus gets hopelessly lost, because apparently a sense of direction isn’t a thing in Ancient Greece either. While she’s following him, Echo makes a sound, and immediately shit goes down.

Terrified, like a woman who’s just come face to face with Hera, Narcissus is like “is anybody there?” and Echo is like “shit, shit, I fucked up, I fucked up everything”, except what she actually says is “is anybody there?” and Narcissus rolls his eyes because he’s 16 years old and being teased is his second worst thing ever, after his mum going into his bedroom without his permission, and he says “well, no fucking shit, obviously there’s someone here, I literally just asked you that” and Echo is like “asked you that” and Narcissus grits his pearly, perfectly aligned teeth and says “I’m going to knock your block off, just you come here” and Echo is like “you come here” and Narcissus shakes his wonderfully glossy mane and he’s like “no, you come here” and Echo decides fuck it, enough is enough, and she leaps out of the bushes and beams manically and cries “come here!”, and she’s so overcome with lust at seeing him close-up in high definition that she can’t stop herself from throwing her arms around his neck and basically fawning all over him, living the absolute dream.

For 10 seconds, anyway, because Narcissus is totally grossed out by this creepy girl touching him, and he shoves her off and he’s like “whoa, whoa, sweetheart, don’t touch what you can’t afford, you’re not invited to enjoy this body” and Echo just silently wills him to say something else, anything else so that she doesn’t have to repeat that, but Narcissus just stands there and looks at her and so Echo sighs and says “enjoy this body” and Narcissus wrinkles his adorable and yet rugged button nose and says “I don’t want to enjoy your body, I thought I made that like really clear” and Echo nods forlornly and says “really clear” and then she just runs away, because avoiding conflict is another of her trademarks.

Over the next few months, Echo continues her creepy stalking addiction, and eventually she literally wastes away from sadness, because as we all know, a woman is nothing without the love of a man. Luckily her consciousness remains, and so she’s still able to follow Narcissus around like a bad smell. Unluckily, this means that she gets to watch Narcissus act like a total fucking douche about a hundred more times, just rejecting all these well-meaning people who want to maybe stroke his face a few times and have him tell them that they’re pretty, and eventually, one rejected nice guy decides that enough is enough. His manly pride wounded, he raises his fist to the sky, probably knocking off his fedora in the process, and says “Narcissus has friend-zoned one too many of us! I hope the fucker falls in love one day with someone who’ll never love him back. Then he’ll know what it’s like to live under the cruel haze of inadequacy, or something like that. I am so alone.”

So, a few days later, Narcissus is out hunting in the woods with a group of his less attractive bros, and he suddenly realises how thirsty he is. Actually thirsty, that is. It’s not euphemistic. So he jumps gracefully off his trusty steed and goes to the nearest spring, and he’s about to take a nice long sip of water when he spies this goddamn vision of loveliness in the spring, and immediately he’s just like “oh my days, this must be what love feels like, or perhaps it’s just teenage arousal, but either way, I want to get on that” and so he just sits there, staring into the spring, saying stuff like “babe, your hair is like spun silk, I could run my hands through it and give you a scalp massage at the same time because that’s the kind of boyfriend I’d be”, but the image in the water doesn’t respond and Narcissus is like “this must be how all those people I rejected felt, don’t make me feel empathy, just love me” 

but obviously, the image doesn’t reply because it’s just Narcissus’ fucking reflection, and this entire time Echo is just watching him like ‘holy shit, and to think this is the man I’m in love with, he’s certainly something to look at but there’s absolutely jack shit going on upstairs’. At one point, Narcissus leans in to try and give the hot boy in the pool a cheeky smooch, and the water is disturbed and the reflection fades away, and Narcissus panics and he’s like “whoa, whoa, I’m sorry, I moved too fast, we can take it slow, baby, just come back to me” and the water stills again and the reflection returns and Narcissus smiles wanly and says “this is enough for me, baby, we don’t ever have to touch, just let me look at you” and by god, does he look. For weeks, he just sits there like a teenage girl waiting for One Direction ticket announcements, staring into the spring and sighing wistfully.

Eventually, he just starts to waste away staring lovelorn at his own reflection. Instead of doing the normal thing and doing things that are necessary for life, such as eating, he literally just lies by the water and stares at himself, because Narcissus is nothing if not committed. He’s so committed that he ultimately ends up dying, because that’s the sort of thing you should be willing to do for love. With one last melodramatic sigh, he whispers “I just don’t get it, I’m a hot hunk of beefcake, everyone else wanted me but you… farewell” and then he just keels over and dies the lamest death that anyone has ever died. Echo, who’s been doing her usual routine of standing unnervingly near and watching, says “farewell”, which for once is not an inappropriate thing to say and would probably make a really great line of dialogue in a Nicholas Sparks novel, and then she watches as his body turns into a bed of fucking white and yellow flowers, because if anyone’s corpse is going to do that, it’s Narcissus’. 

Somewhere, probably in a strip-club far away, Teiresias says “I fucking told you so”.

More mythological goodness can be found herehere and here. The latter two links also allow you to follow my progress in writing a whole actual book. Thrilling.

Keep reading

1
Echo is choking on her own voice,
on the fragments of words that escape her throat.
Echo lives in hollow caverns,
catches the threads of other’s voices
and throws them back.

2
Echo is destroying herself
because of how the sounds bubbling from her mouth
sear her.

3
Narcissus is beautiful in a heart-breaking way,
and the first time she sees his sharp smile,
it punches the wind out her like a tangible, solid force.

4
She wants to touch him,
wants to press her fingers against his bones and
wants to mouth words onto his skin
that are all her own.

4
She is helpless in the face of Narcissus,
and Echo is always helpless,
there is always words cutting themselves out her like knives,
but not like this.
Not the way his eyes could tear her to pieces
and make her plead for more.

Echo and Narcissus // w.t.o

The moment Echo saw Narcissus
She was in love. She followed him
Like a starving wolf
Following a stag too strong to be tackled.
And like a cat in winter at a fire
She could not edge close enough
To what singed her, and would burn her.
She almost burst
With longing to call out to him and somehow
Let him know what she felt.
But she had to wait
For some other to speak
So she could snatch their last words
With whatever sense they might lend her.
—  Extract from Ted Hughes’ ‘Echo and Narcissus’, published in Tales from Ovid (1997).
3

Echo and Narcissus

Echo, a woodland nymph who was cursed to only repeat the words of those who spoke to her, fell for Narcissus, who was the most beautiful and haughty of all in his land. Echo longed for his love, but Narcissus felt little interest for anything but himself. Eros, the god of love, saw the smitten nymph and Narcissus as they strolled by a pond, and took aim with his bow so that Narcissus may come to love echo and find happiness. In the moment that the arrow of love pierced his heart Narcissus tripped, and upon seeing his reflection in the pool of water, fell madly in love with himself. 

For my illustration class I recreated the story of echo and Narcissus in the setting of 1600 french court. 

The Story of Echo and Narcissus

                                            And so Tiresias,

Famous through all Aonian towns and cities,

Gave irreproachable answers to all comers

Who sought his guidance. Once of the first who tested

The truths he told was a naiad of the river,

Liriope, whom the river-god, Cephisus

Embraced and ravished in his watery dwelling.

In time she bore a child, most beautiful

Even as child, gave him the name Narcissus,

And asked Tiresias if the boy would ever

Live to a ripe old age. Tiresias answered:

“Yes, if he never knows himself.” How silly

Those words seemed, for how long! But as it happened,

Time proved them true - the way he died, the strangeness

Of his infatuation.

                                        Now Narcissus

Was sixteen years of age, and could be taken

Either for boy or man; and boys and girls

Both sought his love, but in that slender stripling

Was pride so fierce no boy, no girl, could touch him.

He was out hunting one day, driving deer

Into the nets, when a nymph named Echo say him,

A nymph whose way of talking was peculiar

In that she could not start a conversation

Nor fail to answer other people talking.

Up to this time Echo still had a body,

She was not merely voice. She liked to chatter,

But had no power of speech except the power

To answer in the words she last had heard.

Juno had done this: when she went out looking 

For Jove on top of some nymph among the mountains,

Echo would stall the goddess off by talking

Until the nymphs had fled. Sooner or later

Juno discovered this and said to Echo:

“The tongue that made a fool of me will shortly

Have shorter use, the voice be brief hereafter.”

Those were not idle words; now Echo always

Says the last thing she hears, and nothing further.

She saw Narcissus roaming through the country,

Saw him, and burned, and followed him in secret,

Burning the more she followed, as when sulphur

Smeared on the rim of torches, catches fire

When other fire comes near it. Oh, how often

She wanted to come near with coaxing speeches,

Make soft entreaties to him! But her nature

Sternly forbids; the one thing not forbidden

Is to make answers. She is more than ready

For words she can give back. By chance Narcissus

Lost track of his companions, started calling

“Is anybody here?” and “Here!” said Echo.

He looked around in wonderment, called louder

“Come to me!” “Come to me!” came back the answer.

He looked behind him, and saw no one coming;

“Why do you run from me?” and heard his question

Repeated in the woods. “Let us get together!”

There was nothing Echo would ever say more gladly,

“Let us get together!” And, to help her words,

Out of the woods she came, with arms all ready

To fling around his neck. But he retreated:

“Keep your hands off,” he cried, “and do not touch me!

I would die before I give you a chance at me.”

“I give you a chance at me,” and that was all

She ever said thereafter, spurned and hiding,

Ashamed, in the leafy forests, in lonely caverns.

But still her love clings to her and increases

And grows on suffering; she cannot sleep,

She frets and pines, becomes all gaunt and haggard,

Her body dries and shrivels till voice only

And bones remain, and then she is voice only

For the bones are turned to stone. She hides in woods

And no one sees her now along the mountains,

But all may hear her, for her voice is living.

She was not the only one on whom Narcissus

Had visited frustration; there were others,

Naiads or Oreads, and young men also

Till finally one rejected youth, in prayer,

Raised up his hands to Heaven: “May Narcissus

Love one day, so, himself, and not win over

The creature whom he loves!” Nemesis heard him,

Goddess of Vengeance, and judged the plea was righteous.

There was a pool, silver with shining water,

To which no shepherds came, no goats, no cattle,

Whose glass no bird, no beast, no falling leaf

Had ever troubled. Grass grew all around it,

Green from the nearby water, and with shadow

No sun burned hotly down on. Here Narcissus,

Worn from the heat of hunting, came to rest

Finding the place delightful, and the spring

Refreshing for the thirsty. As he tried

To quench his thirst, inside him, deep within him,

Another thirst was growing, for he saw

An image in the pool, and fell in love

With that unbodied hope, and found a substance

In what was only shadow. He looks in wonder,

Charmed by himself, spell-bound, and no more moving

Than any marble statue. Lying prone

He sees his eyes, twin stars, and locks as comely

As those of Bacchus or the god Apollo,

Smooth cheeks, and ivory neck, and the bright beauty

Of countenance, and a flush of color rising

In the fair whiteness. Everything attracts him

That makes him so attractive. Foolish boy,

He wants himself; the loved becomes the lover,

The seeker sought, the kindler burns. How often

He tries to kiss the image in the water,

Dips in his arms to embrace the boy he sees there,

And finds the boy, himself, elusive always,

Not knowing what he sees, but burning for it,

The same delusion mocking his eyes and teasing.

Why try to catch an always fleeing image,

Poor credulous youngster? What you seek is nowhere,

And if you turn away, you will take with you

The boy you love.The vision is only shadow,

Only reflection, lacking any substance.

It comes with you, it stays with you, it goes

Away with you, if you can go away.

No thought of food, no thought of rest, can make him

Forsake the place. Stretched on the grass, in shadow,

He watches, all unsatisfied, that image

Vain and illusive, and he almost drowns

In his own watching eyes. He rises, just a little,

Enough to lift his arms in supplication

To the trees around him, crying to the forest:

“What love, whose love, has ever been more cruel?

You woods should know: you have given many lovers

Places to meet and hide in; has there ever,

Through the long centuries, been anyone

Who has pined away as I do? He is charming,

I see him, but the charm and sight escape me.

I love him and I cannot seem to find him!

To make it worse, no sea, no road, no mountain,

No city-wall, no gate, no barrier, parts us

But a thin film of water. He is eager

For me to hold him. When my lips go down

To kiss the pool, his rise, he reaches toward me.

You would think that I could touch him - almost nothing

Keeps us apart. Come out, whoever you are!

Why do you tease me so? Where do you go

When I am reaching for you? I am surely

Neither so old or ugly as to scare you,

And nymphs have been in love with me. You promise,

I think, some hope with a look of more than friendship.

You reach out arms when I do, and your smile

Follows my smiling; I have seen your tears

When I was tearful; you nod and beckon when I do;

Your lips, it seems ,answer when I am talking

Though what you say I cannot hear. I know

The truth at last. He is myself! I feel it,

I know my image now. I burn with love

Of my own self; I start the fire I suffer.

What shall I do? Shall I give or take the asking?

What shall I ask for? What I want is with me,

My riches make me poor. If I could only

Escape from my own body! if I could only - 

How curious a prayer form any lover - 

Be parted from my love! And now my sorrow

Is taking all my strength away; I know

I have not long to live, I shall die early,

And death is not so terrible, since it takes

My trouble from me; I am sorry only

The boy I love must die: we die together.”

He turned again to the image in the water,

Seeing it blur through tears, and the vision fading,

And as he saw it vanish, he called after:

“Where are you going? Stay: do not desert me,

I love you so. I cannot touch you; let me

Keep looking at you always, and in looking

Nourish my wretched passion!” In his grief

He tore his garment from the upper margin,

Beat his bare breast with hands as pale as marble,

And the breast took on a glow, a rosy color,

As apples are white and red, sometimes, or grapes

Can be both green and purple. The water clears,

He sees it all once more, and cannot bear it.

As yellow wax dissolves with warmth around it,

As the white frost is gone in morning sunshine,

Narcissus, in the hidden fire of passion,

Wanes slowly, with the ruddy color going,

The strength and hardihood and comeliness

Fading away, and even the very body

Echo had loved. She was sorry for him now,

Though angry still, remembering; you could hear her

Answer “Alas!” in pity, when Narcissus

Cried out “Alas!” you could hear her own hands beating

Her breast when he beat his. “Farewell, dear boy,

Beloved in vain!” were his last words, and Echo

Called the same words to him. His weary head

Sank to the greensward, and death closed the eyes

That had once marveled at their owner’s beauty.

And even in Hell, he found a pool to gaze in,

Watching his image in the Stygian water.

While in the world above, his naiad sisters

Mourned him, and dryads wept for him, and Echo

Mourned as they did, and wept with them, preparing

The funeral pile, the bier, the brandished torches,

But when they sought his body, they found nothing,

Only a flower with a yellow center

Surrounded with white petals.

2

picspam edit: Narcissus x Echo (for @papakoscheis who requested a personal favorite myth story)

“Narcissus was a youth of the town of Thespiai in Boiotia. He was celebrated for his beauty and attracted many admirers but, in his arrogance, spurned them all. The suffering of two of these, however, would bring down a curse upon him.

The nymph Echo - a girl cursed by Hera to repeat only the last words of what was said before - was rejected by the boy and fading away in despair left behind nothing but an echoing voice.”

(want one?)