Narcissus has been a potent subject for artists for more than 2,000 years. Here's a sample of what can be found on the Web. There's much more out there; I've been interested in the diversity of interpretations and have included many amateur works and homepages because so many people have been moved to self-expression of this tale. There's some scholarship here, too.
Ovid (43 B.C - ?17 A.D.) was a Roman poet, author of Metamorphoses, a collection of poetic fables based on classical legends of transformation. Echo was a nymph who was transformed into echo for unrequited love of Narcissus, himself transformed into the flower that shares his name. Most modern tellings of the stories are based on Ovid -- though toned down because Ovid is often both too funny and too sexy for modern readers' comfort. Narcissus and Echo in English and
in Latin. [Page of links about Ovid, Metamorphoses, and other works by the poet.]
-- "The Passion of Tulips and Other Bulbs". Origin myths of tulip, hyacinth, narcissus, and crocus.
"On Death and Dancing: The Narcissus' Dual Past". Lore about the plant. Photo of narcissus in bloom, upper right of page.
"I Stood tip-toe upon a little hill", poem by John Keats (1785-1821). Narcissus is at lines 170-180, but read it all.
-- Several other poetic references to Narcissus.
The story (Greek version).
The story (Roman version). From Bulfinch's 1855 The Age of Fable.
Same with illustration. Same with two thirds of the page taken up by ads.
"Echo and Narcissus". Here's a version of the story that includes Aphrodite but not Artemis.
"Echo and Narcissus" adapted by NovaReinna. Well-written, though lacks the dialogues and has some events out of the usual order.
"The Myth of Narcissus and Echo" "(based upon the written storytelling of Mary Pope Osborne)" with some events out of the usual order.
"Echo+Narcissus", poem, poet unidentified. This is a good paraphrase of somebody -- this one mentions Aphrodite instead of Nemesis.
"Narcissus Worksheet", very simple telling of the tale, for use in classrooms with kids ages 5-11. For role-playing, categorized as "history."
"The Tale of Echo" for storytelling in the classroom, not the standard version.
"Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Heroines", a rather whimsical page for teachers to use in the classroom. There's a list of characters from classical myth -- divine and mortal, mixed Greek and Roman. Choose a character and then research the background and attributes. But the fun part is having your character solve one of ten "typical middle school problems," including: missed the bus to school and hates what is being served for lunch today. (How would Hecate handle that??)
"Narcissus", a short paper comparing a version of Narcissus's story that doesn't include Echo to Bulfinch's telling of "Echo and Narcissus."
"Ovid's Narcissus: An Echo of the Oedipus 'Complex'" by Ingo Gildenhard. A short scholarly paper; not psychology; comparison of texts.
Abstract of a conference paper, "Divided Selves and Merging Identities: The Transformative Effects of Female Desire in Metamorphoses 3, 4, and 9 by Kate DiLorenzo. "...the Metamorphoses multiplies incidents of actual or implied incest in which the sexual aggressor is female in order to imply that female desire, like incest, is not only potentially unnatural and transgressive, but that it also has negative transformative
effects on both its subject and its object."
Fresco of Narcissus from an excavated house in Pompeii.
"Narcissus", painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610), attribution uncertain. You can send this picture as a postcard.
"Echo and Narcissus", painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665).
"Narcissus and Echo", painting (exhibited 1804) by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Dark and murky.
"The Metamorphosis of Narcissus", painting by Salvador Dali (1984-1989).
"Echo and Narcissus" (c. 1903), painting by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). Very popular on the Web and can be found on many pages.
-- "Echo and Narcissus Homepage" by Andrew Wellbrook, apparently a school paper analyzing the myth; has an interesting animated graphic of a young man's face (the author's?) and its rippling reflection (he isn't gazing at himself, however, but at the camera). Waterhouse's painting.
-- Myth Man's Homework Help Center has "Echo & Narcissus" with synopses of Ovid, the Greek version, Bulfinch, poetic references, and the paintings by Waterhouse, Poussin, and Caravaggio.
"Listen to My Heart". Has Waterhouse's painting, a quote from Milton, a synopsis of the myth, and "I have dreamed of you so much," a poem by Robert Desnos (1900-1945).
"Echo and Narcissus". Waterhouse's painting and a synopsis of the myth.
-- Waterhouse again. "Reflections," a poem by S.A.C. -- "The love I felt...and evermore will feel for you...Was mirrored in your eyes" seems like it belongs to a different story, and, geez, it has "continence" for "countenance."
"Echo and Narcissus", an illustrated story by Andrew Belousov. Animé-style drawings; Narcissus on steroids; doesn't include Narcissus's fate. [12 Jan 2000 -- the pages are still online but the images don't load.]
"The Flowering of Narcissus". Painting by Temple Lee Parker.
"Shut up I'm in love". Photograph by Fredrik Wretman.
"Narcissus". Art photograph by Susie Green. Synopsis of the myth.
"Echoing Narcissus" (1987). Installation by David Rokeby. Interactive sound-sculpture in the form of a well. "This is a sort of black hole of communication...." "Transforming Mirrors" by David Rokeby, on interactive video installations
"Echo". Description of a "communication art" project by J. Lehmus.
"Echo and Narcissus". Bronze sculpture by David John Mega.
"Narcissus and Echo Card". Notecard featuring a woman posing as an impatient (male) sailor and another woman in a silvery bodysuit primping in a handmirror. Slightly kinky.
"The Gadget Lover, Narcissus as Narcosis" by Marshall McLuhan. [Scroll down a ways for the text.] "This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image."
"Body of Water (assuming Narcissus)". Poem by Andrew Hall.
"Echo and Narcissus", a ballet choreography by Ileana Citaristi. "An innovative choreography that blends the Mayurbhanji Chhau technique, a semi-classical style from the east Indian state of Orissa with the famous classic Greek myth."
Review of a ballet performance of Roland Petit's "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort," the second movement of which includes the story of Echo and Narcissus.
"Echo and Narcissus". Synopsis of a short play.
Synopsis of a musical play, "Narcissus and Echo," by Jeff Goode and Larrance Fingerhut. "Narcissus is duped by the devilish love-god Cupid into believing he is a Lesbian......But is Narcissus man enough to resist the feminine wiles of his own seductive reflection?" Reviews of this play.
"The 'N' Word", a psychological commentary on narcissism by Donald Williams, who explains: "Among my therapist and writer friends, the 'N word' is 'Narcissism.'" Jungian analyst reviews the film "The New Age" (1994).
Psychological commentary on the film "Jurassic Park" by Ray G. Poggi, M.D.
"The skillful use of humor, pace, and spectacular effects that create the polished surface of the film allow us to experience both the narcissism, fear, and hatred towards a life that exists outside our control which seems inherent in our society."
"Echo and Narcissus: the Fearful Logic of Postmodern Thought", abstract of an essay by David Bosworth. "The mind can try to limit what it knows to diminish its anxieties, but it cannot limit what exists."
"Alan Kurtz's File". Fictional therapy sessions with a narcissistic patient.
"The Narcissistic Personality Disorder Show", a one-act play by Silvia Gonzalez. (By the end, I was wondering just who was the NPD in this story.)
Two enduring novels about narcissistic characters are Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (full text online at several sites including
Bibliomania, word<Up>, and Litrix Reading Room) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (full text online at several sites including New Way Publishing, Online Literature Library, BookValley.com). Both have been dramatized and filmed.
Love is not enough: the message over and over, since ancient times, is that the only remedy for narcissism is death, so -- despite the usual dreamy and sentimental treatment in the visual arts -- Narcissus's story is a sad one. For an antidote, listen to Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" [sound samples on this page] performed by the Boston Symphony, under conductor Charles Munch, and the New England Conservatory Chorus and Alumni Chorus, directed by Robert Shaw. I have recordings of several performances of this work (written as a ballet), and this one from 1955 is utterly the best ever, glorious and electrifying.