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.
There once was this wood nymph named Echo, and she had the most beautiful voice you could ever imagine. But while this was a great trait, she also had a worse one– while Zeus left Olympus to flirt with nymphs, and Hera came looking for him, Echo misled her so Zeus could get away.
Thing was, she didn’t do a very good job, because she got caught. Hera– she doesn’t have a great track record of taking things lightly. She took away Echo’s beautiful voice, so that she was only able to repeat sounds she heard, like wolves howling, trees whispering– and people talking.
Lo and behold she falls in love with some pretty boy named Narcissus checking out his reflection in the water. She could only repeat what he said, though, so she had no way of saying who she was or that she loved him, so she remained hidden.
But every time she repeated his words, he grew more and more intrigued, thinking it was his own reflection. To the point that he stopped eating, stopped doing everything… and then died. For real.
Anyway, she was put out to say the least…
so when Pan fell in love with her, she shut him down real quick. His rage sent his shepherds into a crazed panic, and they ripped her to pieces, scattering her to the winds.
And that’s why you can still here her to this day, repeating dog barks and car sirens.
I imagined that if Nico had gone with Leo to get celestial bronze in Mark of Athena he’d be starstruck by Narcissus’s good looks for like one second then go ‘pfft’ and mentally comment on how Percy was so much hotter. And then he hears Narcissus self-praising himself and his face goes black instantly and he’s all like ‘ok I’m DEFINITELY sending this mother fucker to the fields of punishment you are SO not hotter than my bae’. And then he realizes how embarrassing his train of thought was and just slams his face onto the sand and screams in frustration while Leo accidentally sets Echo’s hair on fire.
My book of Greek myths had told me that the narcissi were named after a beautiful young man, so lovely that he had fallen in love with himself. He saw his reflection in a pool of water, and would not leave it, and, eventually, he died, so that the gods were forced to transform him into a flower. In my mind, when I had read this, I had imagined that a narcissus must be the most beautiful flower in the world. I was disappointed when I learned that it was just a less impressive daffodil.