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Narcissus and Ameinias
(myth) Greece

Narcyssus

Mythological personnages

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Narcissus is known for having fallen in love with himself

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NarcyssusNarcyssusNarcissus, was loved by Apollo and is counted among the most handsome young men. According to some, the son of the River God Cephisus & the Nymph Liriope, or according to others, the son of Endymion and Selene (Moon).

The beauty of Narcissus may be compared to that of Adonis, loved by Aphrodite, to that of Endymion, loved by Selene, to that of Ganymedes, loved by Zeus, to that of Hyacinthus, loved by Apollo, to that of Hylas, loved by Heracles, to that of Hermaphroditus, loved by Salmacis, or to that of Chrysippus, loved by Laius.

Ameinias
Ameinias, spurned lover of Narcissus, killing himself - made by the artist Malcolm Lidbury

An important and early version of this tale originates in the region in Greek known as Boeotia (to the north and west of Athens). Narcissus lived in the city of Thespiae. A young man, Ameinias, was in love with Narcissus, but he rejected Ameinias' love. He grew tired of Ameinias' affections and sent him a present of a sword. Ameinias killed himself with the sword in front of Narcissus' door and as he died, he called curses upon Narcissus. One day Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a spring and, in desperation, killed himself.

Narcissus
Narcissus, who spurned Ameinias love - made by the artist Malcolm Lidbury

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NarcyssusNarcissus is another example among several of a beautiful young man who spurned sex and died as a result. As such, his myth has much in common with those of Adonis and Hippolytus. In the Roman poet Ovid's retelling of the myth, Narcissus is the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. When Narcissus was born the seer Tiresias was asked whether this child would live a long life and the seer replied:

"If he never knows himself"
[Tiresias. Ovid, Metamorphoses 3;350]

Many nymphs and youths fell in love with him but he rejected them. One of these nymphs, Echo, was so distraught over this rejection that she withdrew into a lonely spot and faded until all that was left was a plaintive whisper. In this way many other nymphs and youths had been mocked by Narcissus, until one of them prayed to heaven:

"So may he himself love,
and not gain the thing he loves"
[Ovid, Metamorphoses 3;405]

Narcyssus

The goddess Nemesis heard the rejected girls prayers for vengeance and arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection. When later Narcissus, who was as beautiful as Dionysus or Apollo, discovered his image in a pool, he fell in love with himself and, not being able to find consolation, he died of sorrow by the same pool watching his reflection. It is said that Narcissus still keeps gazing on his image in the waters of the river Styx in the Underworld. All nymphs grieved him including Echo, and when they prepared his funeral pile, they could not find his body, and in its place they found the flower, which today bears his name.

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NarcyssusBoth of these stories give an origin to the narcissus flower, which grew where Narcissus died.

Concerning the flower in which the young man turned into, it already existed at the time when Hades abducted Persephone, and became "a snare for the bloom-like girl".

For it was while she, attracted by the sweet scent of the narcissus, gathered flowers over a meadow, that the earth opened and Hades sprang out upon her with his immortal horses and took her with him to be the queen of the Underworld.

The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one's own reflection.

In psychiatry and especially psychoanalysis, the term narcissism denotes an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement, a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.

Narcyssus

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