Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Narcissus



... god-like ...... ...He had a cruel heart, and hated all of them,Till he conceived a love for his own form:He wailed, seeing his face, delightful as a dream,Within a spring; he wept for his beauty.Then the boy shed his blood and give it to the earth... to bear

Narcissus Ovid

The Transformation of Echo

Fam'd far and near for knowing things to come,
From him 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,
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.

The Story of Narcissus

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 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.
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.
"Farewel," says he; the parting sound scarce fell
From his faint lips, but she reply'd, "farewel."
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.

Naucissus Pausinus

So widely different are the traditions of Hesiod himself and his poems.

[7] On the summit of Helicon is a small river called the Lamus.2 In the territory of the Thespians is a place called Donacon (Reed-bed). Here is the spring of Narcissus. They say that Narcissus looked into this water, and not understanding that he saw his own reflection, unconsciously fell in love with himself, and died of love at the spring. But it is utter stupidity to imagine that a man old enough to fall in love was incapable of distinguishing a man from a man's reflection.

[8] There is another story about Narcissus, less popular indeed than the other, but not without some support. It is said that Narcissus had a twin sister; they were exactly alike in appearance, their hair was the same, they wore similar clothes, and went hunting together. The story goes on that Narcissus fell in love with his sister, and when the girl died, would go to the spring, knowing that it was his reflection that he saw, but in spite of this knowledge finding some relief for his love in imagining that he saw, not his own reflection, but the likeness of his sister.

[9] The flower narcissus grew, in my opinion, before this, if we are to judge by the verses of Pamphos. This poet was born many years before Narcissus the Thespian, and he says that the Maid, the daughter of Demeter, was carried off when she was playing and gathering flowers, and that the flowers by which she was deceived into being carried off were not violets, but the narcissus.










Ovid's version

In Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of a graceful and pretty nymph named Echo who loved Narcissus in vain. Narcissus' beauty was so unmatched that he felt it was godlike in scope, comparable to the beauty of Bacchus and Apollo. As a result, Narcissus spurned Echo's affections until, despairing, she faded away to nothing but a faint, plaintive whisper. To teach the vain boy a lesson, the goddess Nemesis doomed Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in Echo's pond. Entranced by his own beauty and enamoured with his own image, Narcissus lay on the bank of the river and wasted away staring down into the water. Different versions of the story state that Narcissus, after scorning his male suitors, then was cursed by the gods to love the first male that he should lay his eyes on. While walking in the gardens of Echo he discovered the pond of Echo and saw a reflection of himself in the water. Falling deeply in love with himself, he leaned closer and closer to his reflection in the water, eventually falling into the pond and drowning.

Archaic version

This, a more archaic version than the one related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is a moral tale in which the proud and unfeeling Narcissus is punished by the gods for having spurned all his male suitors. It is thought to have been meant as a cautionary tale addressed to adolescent boys. Until recently, the only source for this version was a segment in Pausanias (9.31.7), about 150 years after Ovid. However, a very similar account was discovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri in 2004, an account that predates Ovid's version by at least fifty years.

In this story, Ameinias, a young man, loved Narcissus but was scorned. To tell Ameinias off, Narcissus gave him a sword as a present. Ameinias used the sword to kill himself on Narcissus' doorstep and prayed to Nemesis that Narcissus would one day know the pain of unrequited love. This curse was fulfilled when Narcissus became entranced by his reflection in the pool and tried to seduce the beautiful boy, not realizing it was himself he was looking at. Completing the symmetry of the tale, Narcissus takes his sword and kills himself from sorrow.[

The new version of the Narcissus story is much more concise than Ovid’s. Ovid devotes many verses to the nymph Echo, who in her unrequited love for Narcissus wastes away until only an echo remains: she can only repeat what others say. There is no trace of her either in the papyrus text or in Conon’s account. There, Narcissus is a young boy and his lovers are all male. Ovid also distinguishes himself from the other two authors by having Narcissus, like Echo, simply waste away. His body mysteriously disappears, and when the nymphs come to collect it, they find the flower in its place. In Conon’s version, as in the new papyrus, the boy kills himself. It is his blood that produces the narcissus flower. (In this respect, the story resembles that of Adonis, told on the other side of the papyrus fragment.) In the light of the new evidence, it seems that Ovid may well have been the first to give the myth its now familiar form.

It is noteworthy in view of the fundamental role assigned to narcissism by Freud that there exists no detailed analysis of the myth which immortalized the handsome youth, Narcissus and provided psychoanalysis with so felicitous a term. Certain essential features of the myth are well-known, and these may serve as convenient initial material for analysis, the more so, as they raise certain problems of considerable importance for investigation. Narcissus, as will be recalled from the frequently cited version of the myth, was a youth of extraordinary beauty who fell in love with his image as he leaned over a pool of water. Fascinated by his own reflection, he pined away and died. There appeared in his stead the flower which bears his name. What is usually emphasized in this touching story is the extreme self-love which Narcissus manifests, the very quality which is designated by the term narcissism. But is self-love the only essential aspect of the myth? Apparently what has been less em

NARCISSUS, in Greek mythology, son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope, distinguished for his beauty. The seer Teiresias told his mother that he would have a long life, provided he never looked upon his own features. His rejection of the love of the nymph Echo drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. Having fallen in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring, he pined away (or killed himself) and the flower that bears his name sprang up on the spot where he died. According to Pausanias, Narcissus, to console himself for the death of a favourite twin-sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features by his own. Narcissus, representing the early spring-flower, which for a brief space beholds itself mirrored in the water and then fades, is one of the many youths whose premature death is recorded in Greek mythology (cf. Adonis, Linus, Hyacinthus); the flower itself was regarded as a symbol of such death. It was the last flower gathered by Persephone before she was carried off by Hades, and was sacred to Demeter and Core (the cult name of Persephone), the great goddesses of the underworld. From its associations Wieseler takes Narcissus himself to be a spirit of the underworld, of death and rest. It is possible that the story may have originated in the superstition (alluded to by Artemidorus, Oneirocritica, ii. 7) that it was an omen of death to dream of seeing one's reflection in water.


http://books.google.ca/books?id=pQkopT9bXmAC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=narcissus+Pausanias&source=bl&ots=gHNrlShiO0&sig=ye7Xb7LNx1MLqNp7D_3gDYVwxW4&hl=en&ei=28pFTYOfF831gAeYgKWKAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=narcissus%20Pausanias&f=false

3 comments: