“I wonder when this lad will cease bringing dishonor to my name.” Kephisos, the river god thought aloud as he sat on his throne and watched his son Narcissus play; even if he couldn’t call what he did ‘playing’. The lad was always putting his hair in place or brushing his eyebrows to perfection and his obsession with and pride in his looks had become a source of constant worry and irritancy to the ruling council of the Aliakmonas river.
The lad in question, oblivious to all the noise around him puckered his lips in disapproval as he caught his reflection in the shinny surface of one of the gold pillars in his father’s chambers. A hair was already out of place; he loathe when this happened. He had just taken three steps from when he last smoothened his hair and now a hair was out of place again. Sighing angrily, he brought out his Shark teeth comb and ran it through his glorious mane, taking the time to pat each hair back in place. He had been under great pain lately, his head and his heart in turmoil from Ameinias’ untoward advances and the unrepentant sounds of Ekho crying out his name at odd moments of dawn.
Ekho had loved him so much, but her love and beauty were no match for his own magnificence. If he were being fair and honest, nothing on earth, the mountains or in the sky was a match for his magnificence. Ekho had been a chatterbox and he was tolerant of her then, because all she talked about was his beauty. He had started to think that maybe he could ordain her as his praise singer since she loved him so, but her constant talking angered Hera and so she cursed Ekho so she could only repeat the last words of whatever was said. Ekho’s inability to speak of Narcissus’ beauty and stroke his ego like the old days annoyed him so much that he spurned her without thinking. Her fragile heart couldn’t take it and the pain was so much that she had faded away into night uttering the last two words from his final statement the day he spurned her; “love you” along with his name.
Lost in thoughts of the unfortunate Ekho, Narcissus did not see his mother float up to him, until she touched him. With a loud shriek, he jumped away from her protecting his face and was about to flee when he noticed it was his mother. Liriope; Narcissus’ mother was a fountain nymph and the only person who’s beauty almost rivaled Narcissus’. Unlike her son, she wasn’t vainglorious and possessed a kind heart which encouraged the members of the council to tolerate Narcissus’ extremeties. Liriope put her hand on her son’s shoulder again and took his hand from his hair as she always did.
“Son, please tell me what troubles you” She asked, her concern evident in her tone. Narcissus loved it when someone pleasede to hear his problems so he took her hands and started to speak of his troubles.
“I hear Ekho’s voice mother, everywhere I go and Ameinias won’t leave me alone. Every time I close my eyes in slumber or go out to wash myself in the lake, I feel his presence; he never stops calling on me.” Narcissus’ frustration was evident as he poured out his heart to his mother who stood there watching him in pity. His troubles were next to nothing and inconsequential in the big scheme of things, but she couldn’t tell him that. Zeus had summoned her just days before and advised her to caution her son, because his proud ways were beginning to vex him. Liriope really felt sorry for her son, thinking he was above all in his own little world. “Come son, rest your head on my bossom and ignore your troubles.”
Narcissus loved resting his head on his mother’s bossom. The act made him feel small, safe and important all at once. While he was still revelling in the joy of his mother’s love, a commotion at the outer gate caught his attention. Pushing his mother gently to the side, he walked to the window to get a clearer look. The guards were trying to restrain Ameinias who didn’t even budge for a moment. Ameinias was a merchant who worked downtown and suffered the same ailment Ekho did; love for Narcissus. But unlike Ekho, Ameinias was strong and refused to take no for an answer even when Narcissus publicly and heartlessly rejected him and his gift of a beautiful hand carved white flower on the last celebration of the recurring day of his birth.
Narcissus watched as Ameinias effortlessly overpowered the guards and march purposefully towards his father’s chambers. He rather admired the way the giant brutish Merchant moved and hated him even more for it. Ameinias was the same age as him, except that he wasn’t a god; even tho he had almost god-like strength. Narcissus couldn’t lie to himself, he admired this man and although he wished to accept Ameinias and show him love, he could not. What would the people think of him? The great Narcissus, fairest in all the land; surely he couldn’t sink as low as Ameinias. Also, the council frowned upon ρομαντικι αγαπι between two μεγαλοι αντρεσ and even if he didn’t care about them, he wasn’t ready to be ridiculed.
“Narcissus! My love! The one whose eyes shine brighter than Hellios’ glaring glory.” Ameinias’ loud declaration rang loudly in the hall as he pushed past the guards and entered the inner chambers. Liriope at a loss for words left the chamber and went to find her husband in the hope that he could stop the madness. Narcissus watched as Ameinias stalked towards him and entertained images of the both of them together in a meadow with white flowers all around them, even as he kept a straight face and maintained an uninterested look. Ameinias was before him now and on one knee, tears running down his face as he proclaimed undying love for Narcissus.
“Enough!” Narcissus snapped, already exhausted by the whole situation. Silence ensued immediately, the guards who had now recovered and were in the room charging towards Ameinias frozen in their tracks. All were waiting to hear what Narcissus’ verdict would be. “Go home Ameinias, you’re beneath me.”
Ignoring the different murmurs and chuckles coming from the guards and the fresh trail of tears running down Ameinias’ face, he turned and proceeded to walk out of the room but sounds from behind him stopped him again. What he saw when he turned around stopped him cold; Ameinias had already grabbed one of the royal swords on the wall and was fighting against the guards restraining him. Over powering them once again, he succeeded in getting to the door of the chambers and to everybody’s shock stabbed himself. Everything stood still as they watched him bleed slowly to his death. Narcissus can’t stand the sight of his filthy blood and turns to leave again when Ameinias shouts; “Avenge me, Nemesis!” And immediately dies.
Narcissus retired to his chambers early that day, hoping that the godess Nemesis didn’t hear Ameinias’ death wish. Nemesis particularly disliked him because of his conceited nature. Like it was his fault that he was above all men and gods, except maybe Zeus, in every way. With thoughts of the day’s events and pictures of Ameinias’ corpse in his mind, he fell asleep.
The sound of his name woke him up at first, then slowly his surroundings became clear to him. He was stretched out on the lake shore, the water gently slapping him as the breeze blew in his direction. He didn’t understand how he got to the edge of the lake as he was in bed only moments before. The night was dark and the silence was thick and smothering him by the second. “Narcissus” the voice came again, making him jump. Moving into a crouching position, he began to look for the source of the sound when he came upon the most beautiful face he had ever seen gazing out at him from within the lake. “Oh my, such beauty; such resplendent beauty. Who are you, fair one?” He asked, laying down at the edge of the lake. The face smiled at him as the breeze began to blow harder and leaves started rising to form an encasement around Narcissus.
“That is you.” Nemesis’ voice replied in the wind. “Now, you shall have your love and beauty to yourself forever, vain one.” The wind stopped suddenly and everything became normal, but Narcissus noticed nothing. He lay there, frozen, smiling at the face in the lake and murmuring words of love and adoration to it.
King Minos, Aeacus and Radamanthus watched the recent events with Narcissus and laughed in unism. Narcissus didn’t understand his predicament yet, by the time his eyes opened, he’d be too far gone. “What do we do to him?” Aeacus asked his colleagues. “Ah, let him suffer for some time.” King Minos replied heartily, happy at another man’s suffering. “Yes, it is no use sending him to Tartarus now. He will have all eternity to rot there. For the sin of vanity is punishable by death. He must be broken.” Radamanthus concluded as they all burst out laughing again.
The deep voice of men laughing moved with the wind and blew Narcissus’ hair as he smiled at his reflection in the lake not feeling, not knowing, just in love. He didn’t feel it when Hellios unleashed his anger and burned the earth with great heat, he didn’t feel it when Poseidon unleashed the his anger and the great sea spilled over and washed out every living thing on earth. He didn’t feel it when Hades decided to disturb the world from the confines of the underworld and split the earth in different places, and he didn’t feel it when his body started to fade, slowly,painlessly until it was nothing but his glorious mane now pure white at the edge of the lake, straining to touch the face in the water. Even when the hair started to fade into the earth, Narcissus felt nothing but his love for his reflection. Until he faded into nothingness, bringing new life in his place.
A beautiful flower, like the one Ameinias had carved for him grew in his place. The flowers; pure and white like the shiny silk of his hair. The flower bowing slightly towards the lake as Narcissus’ soul strained to love his reflection still, even in death.