Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Word from Mythology: Narcissicist

I've written here already about the Greek nymph Echo who gives us the English word "echo," and now I need to add Narcissus, the Greek mythological character who gives us the word "narcissicist" and "narcissicism" in English. As you can read in the Wikipedia article, Narcissus spurned the love of others (including the love of Echo), but he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Refusing to leave, he wasted away and finally died there, entranced by his own image.

This ancient story led Freud to coin the term "narcissicim" to refer to someone who is self-obsessed; you can read more about the psychological dimensions of narcissicism at Wikipedia.

Narcissus also gave his name to the flower "narcissus," also known as "daffodil." Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, tells us that after he died, Narcissus was turned into a daffodil. You can read Ovid's version of the story at Tony Kline's website: Ovid's Metamorphoses in English.

Here is a medieval depiction from the British Library's Harley 1766 ms.


Here is a modern illustration by Franceschini:


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