Narcissus and Echo

(484 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Narcissus and Echo originally enter Western literature in Book 3. of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (written 1-8 CE). Here we read of how Jove and Juno debated whether men or women found greater pleasure in the act of love, and went to Tiresias for an answer because Tiresias had spent seven years as a woman. Tiresias found that men had the greater pleasure, and in her rage at his decision Juno made him blind. Jove was incapable of undoing the work of Juno but gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy to relieve the penalty.

Among the first prophecies made by Tiresias is in response to a water-nymph Liriope who asks him if her son Narcissus will live to a ripe old age. Tiresias replies, enigmatic as all oracles are, “If he …

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Clark, Robert. "Narcissus and Echo". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 October 2005
[, accessed 07 July 2015.]