Echo (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, Echo (Greek: Ἠχώ, Ēkhō; "Sound") was an Oread (a mountain nymph) who loved her own voice. Zeus loved consorting with beautiful nymphs and visited them on Earth often. Eventually, Zeus's wife, Hera, became suspicious, and came from Mt. Olympus in an attempt to catch Zeus with the nymphs.

Zeus, the King of the Olympians, was known for his many love affairs. Sometimes the young and beautiful nymph Echo would distract and amuse his wife Hera with long and entertaining stories, while Zeus took advantage of the moment to ravish the other mountain nymphs. When Hera discovered the trickery she punished the talkative Echo by taking away her voice, except in foolish repetition of another's shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.[1]

Echo fell in love with a vain youth named Narcissus, who was the son of the blue Nymph Liriope of Thespia. The river god Cephisus had once encircled Liriope with the windings of his streams, trapping her, and seduced the nymph. Concerned about her infant son's future, Liriope consulted the seer Teiresias. Teiresias told the nymph that Narcissus "would live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knew himself."[1]

One day when Narcissus was out hunting stags, Echo stealthily followed the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard footsteps and shouted "Who's there?", Echo answered "Who's there?" And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace the lovely youth. He pulled away from the nymph and vainly told her to leave him alone. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken, and she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens pining away for the love she never knew, crying until all that was left was her voice. However, in other versions Echo cries until she is stone and an invisible Echo (probably her ghost/spirit) haunts the Earth.

The most popular version of the Echo/Narcissus story depicts that when Narcissus realises he is in love with his own reflection, he becomes utterly distraught and realising no way to fulfill his love, he takes his hunting knife and stabs himself through the heart. As the blood drops fell to the ground they spawned the first growth of the Daffodil, also known as the Narcissus flower (or plant).

Echo was a beautiful and musical nymph who could sing and play many instruments.[2] She lived in the woods and denied the love of any man or god.[2] Pan, a lecherous god, fell in love with Echo, but she ran away from him. He became so angry when she refused him, he created such a "panic" causing a group of shepherds to kill her. Echo was torn to pieces and spread all over the Earth.[3] The goddess of the earth, Gaia, received the pieces of Echo, whose voice remains repeating the last words of others.[2] In some versions, Echo and Pan had two children: Iambe[4] and Iynx[5]

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