Narcissus: The Tragedy of Beauty

22 May 2017  Mon

Love is not only a word but an emotion in itself. Those who’ve lived without love have perhaps never known what it is to actually live. But is it necessary that all legendary love stories are between the children of Adam and Eve and not just Adam’s alone?

There once was a boy named Narcissus, most beautiful of all. His parents Cephissus and Liriope were warned by Teiresias, who said their boy would live as long as he knows not himself. He lived in forests and places where there were no mirrors. But, one often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

He had shunned many maidens who longed for him. One such maiden prayed that he might some time or the other feel what it was to love and meet no return of affection. The avenging goddess granted the prayer.

One day Narcissus passed a clear fountain, with water like silver. He stooped down to drink, and saw his own image in the water; he thought it was some beautiful water-spirit living in the fountain. He stood gazing with admiration at those bright eyes, those locks curled like the locks of Bacchus or Apollo, the rounded cheeks, the ivory neck, the parted lips, and the glow of health and exercise over all. He fell in love with himself. He brought his lips near to take a kiss; he plunged his arms in to embrace the beloved object. It fled at the touch, but returned again after a moment and renewed the fascination. He could not tear himself away; he lost all thought of food or rest, while he hovered over the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image.

His tears fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, “Stay, I entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you.” With this and much more of the same kind, he cherished the flame that consumed him, so that by degrees he lost his colour, his vigour, and his beauty.

He pined away and died; and when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look at itself in the waters. The nymphs mourned for him. They prepared a funeral pile and would have burned the body, but it was nowhere to be found; but in its place a flower, purple within, and surrounded with white leaves, which bears the name and preserves the memory of Narcissus. This is a 60 cents Greece Stamp of Narcissus published in 2014 expressing his love for self.

There are a few other Greek tragic love stories like Orpheus and Eurydice , Helen and Paris, Hades and Persephone and Pygmalion and Galatea in this stamp collection. Have you read it yet?

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