Metamorphoses Project:
Tracing Mythology through Time and Place

Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali

Narcissus and Echo

Group Members:  Kristin Fleming and Michelle Mariorenzi


Different Modern Versions of the Myth

Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali

The painting above was done by Salvador Dali in 1937. It is his surrealist interpretation of the story of Narcissus. It shows the figure of Narcissus over the water, and the right side shows the flower growing out of his head.

Analysis of Metamorphosis of Narcissus



Ileana Citaristi's Choreography of the Narcissus and Echo Story


Ileana Citaristi is a choreographer who used "the Mayurbhanji Chhau technique, a semi-classical style from the east Indian state of Orissa" to create a ballet about the story of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus was represented by movement, and Echo by vibrations from the movements.



Indian Choreography of Narcissus and Echo



History of Love by Charles Hopkins (Book 15.1)

Charles Hopkins’ History of Love is a poetic retelling of the Narcissus and Echo tale, much like the original.

Echo spotted Narcissus hunting one day and followed him, but because Juno has taken revenge on Echo’s fair tongue, Echo could only repeat the last words that someone else has spoken. She continued to pursue Narcissus and the farther she followed him the more she wanted him. Finally he spoke and Echo could finally voice a few words that he had already spoken. She ran up to him and grabbed him but he flung her arms away. Embarrassed, she ran into the woods to hide and mourn her failed love in solitude. She stayed hiding and her body wore away leaving only her voice and bones.

Many Nymphs had been rejected by Narcissus so one prayed to make Narcissus love himself and always be lonely. A revengeful goddess Rhamnusia answered the prayer by placing a crystal fountain, perfectly still, in the woods where Narcissus hunted. One day Narcissus went to drink from this pool but caught sight of his reflection. He was stuck gazing at himself, fell in love, and he did not leave to eat or sleep.

Narcissus realized the man he was in love with was himself, but he realized this too late and by that time had no energy to move. As he cried his farewell Echo repeated him in mourning, causing all of the other nymphs to cry.



Paradise Lost by John Milton Book 4:455-469

The narrator looked into a clear lake and saw his reflection. He "pined with vain desire" and gave and received "looks of sympathy and love" through the reflection. Then a voice told him "what there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself" and was thus rescued from suffering the same fate as Narcissus.



Echo and Narcissus: Women's Voices in Classical Hollywood Cinema by Amy Lawrence

This book uses Ovid's Metamorphoses to describe sight and sound, the fact that echo can't talk to Narcissus unless spoken too and Narcissus is in love with his own image. Voice is separated from image and that creates problems for both Narcissus and Echo. Amy compares the cinema to the story of Echo and Narcissus because what is heard and spoken in a movie becomes an echo and reflection. Echo is said to have suffered more and that women and sound are the weaker side of hollywood. This book uses the loss of sound and a woman's voice in comparision to the story of Echo and Narcissus.



El Divino Narciso by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (PDF in Spanish)

This is a play written by the Mexican nun, Sister Juana Ines of the Cross. In this play, Narcissus is depicted as Christ, whose lost love is Human Nature. Echo is Satan who tainted Human Nature with sin when she fell from Heaven. Human Nature wandered looking for a pure spring so that she could be cleansed of her sins and reunited with Narcissus. Echo attempted to prevent this with the help of her assistants, Pride and Self-Love. She tried to tempt Narcissus to swear himself to her and give up Human Nature by offering him many gifts, but he rejected her. Human Nature found the spring, and with the help of Grace (Virgin Mary) hid in the branches of an overhanging tree so that her reflection appeared in the spring. Narcissus came and saw her face (identical to his once purified) in the water. He plunged in, swearing his eternal love and giving his life. He ascended to Heaven, and left a white flower (the Eucharist) in his place.

Analysis of El Divino Narciso


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The background is a photo of the Narcissus flower. It has white petals and an orange cup in the center. Photo by Danny Burk, 2001.

Last updated 24 October 05