A Treasury of Literary Classics -
Greek Mythology Series


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The Story of Echo and Narcissus

"Echo and Narcissus" is a myth from Ovid's book of poetry, Metamorphoses. Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope in Greek mythology. He was known for his beauty and well-loved by many, but he treated his admirers with disdain and contempt, which drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. Being made to fall in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, Narcissus became one of the many tragic figures of Greek mythology. Ovid, the Roman poet, enriched the story of Narcissus with different elements and introduced the myth of the mountain nymph Echo into the story.

1. What did Echo do to anger Hera?

A. She played with Zeus in icy waterfalls.
B. She prevented Hera from catching Zeus red-handed flirting with the nymphs.
C. She talked to Hera impolitely.
D. She teased Hera and made fun of her.

Your answer:

"Echo chatted with Hera in a lively fashion and did whatever she could to stall the goddess until Zeus and the other nymphs had escaped. Eventually Hera discovered that Echo had been tricking her, and she flew into a rage."

2. How did Hera punish Echo?

A. She made Echo fall in love with Narcissus.
B. She turned Echo into an ugly woman.
C. She muted Echo and took away her voice.
D. She made Echo repeat just the last words of others' speech.

Your answer:

"Henceforth, your voice will be more brief, my dear! You will always have the last word - but never the first."

3. Put the events in the correct order based on the story.

  1. Echo could not eat and sleep after Narcissus's death.
  2. Echo appeared before Narcissus and hugged him.
  3. Echo was reduced to a mere voice heard in the mountains.
  4. Echo was rejected and she decided to live in a cave.
  5. Echo saw Narcissus hunting in the woods.

A. (iii) --> (i) --> (ii) --> (v) --> (iv)
B. (ii) --> (iv) --> (v) --> (i) --> (iii)
C. (v) --> (ii) --> (iv) --> (i) --> (iii)
D. (iii) --> (iv) --> (ii) --> (v) --> (i)

Your answer:

4. Which of the following descriptions of Narcissus is FALSE

A. He fell in love with his own reflection in the water.
B. He said goodbye to Echo before he took his last breath.
C. He died from love sickness.
D. He turned into a beautiful flower.

Your answer:

"... until one sad morning, he felt himself dying. “Goodbye, my love!” he shouted to his reflection."

5. Which of the following adjectives does not describe Narcissus?

A. humble
B. arrogant
C. self-centred
D. vain

Your answer:

B, C and D are all negative adjectives suggesting a person's self-importance.

6. In this story, both Echo and Narcissus were sufferers of unrequited love. What does "unrequited" mean?

A. romantic
B. mutual
C. one-sided
D. spiritual

Your answer:

7. Writers often use similes to make the description more vivid. Complete the following sentences by identifying what the following things are compared to and provide reasons.

7a. Echo's heart is compared to because they are both .
7b. The eyes of Narcissus in the reflection are compared to because they are both .
7c. The cheeks of Narcissus in the reflection are compared to because they are both .

7a: "When Echo first laid eyes up Narcissus, her heart burned like the flame of a torch."
7b & 7c: "Gazing up at him from the pool were eyes like twin stars, framed by hair as golden as Apollo’s and cheeks as smooth as ivory."

8. The adjective "narcissistic" originates from the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology. "Narcissistic" is used to describe someone who:

A. behaves in a dangerous way that may jeopardise one's life.
B. shows an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.
C. sticks to one's opinion and is unwilling to change.
D. has excessive admiration for oneself and an inflated sense of self-importance.

Your answer:

The Story of Echo and Narcissus

Score Sheet

Questions Results
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7a
Question 7b
Question 7c
Question 7d
Question 7e
Question 7f
Question 8

Extension: Think and Share

9. Tragic heroes usually have admirable qualities that earn them sympathy of the audience, but also have flaws or make mistakes that ultimately lead to their own downfall. Would you consider Narcissus a tragic hero? Why or Why not?

10. If you could talk to Hera, how would you persuade her to forgive Echo and not to punish her?