Sunday, 3 March 2013

The eternal reflection of a narcissistic life

"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."
– Oscar Wilde

The legend of Narcissus is a very well known Greek myth and as the Greeks have accustoming us, this one is another beautiful and tragic story.

Narcissus was a handsome young man, which used to go hunting to the woods. One day a nymph named Echo saw Narcissus and immediately fell in love, however due to the curse that goddess Hera casted on her, Echo was not able to speak on her behalf – she could only speak by repeating what others had said, so she could not explain the love she had for the young mortal. Narcissus became tired of Echo’s repeated and nonsensical words, and insulted her since he didn’t feel the same. Echo was heartbroken – big mistake Narcissus! Everyone knows that breaking a female’s heart can be of great danger, now imagine breaking a nymph’s heart – a being that has direct contact with the celestial creatures. The other nymphs thought Narcissus deserved to be punished, and Zeus agreed. Again when Narcissus was hunting, he was lead to the lake to drink some water. As soon as he bent to the pond he glimpsed his reflection in the water and fell in love with what he saw.

Echo and Narcissus, John William Waterhouse

He couldn’t do anything anymore except staring at the water and his own true love – himself! He couldn’t eat or sleep anymore, life started to leave him but not before he understood and regret his behavior with Echo. Zeus and the nymphs took pity on him, but it was already too late, they could not restore mortal life, so Narcissus body was transformed into a flower, blooming every spring with the “head” bending to the water.

Narcissus calcicola [Source: Flora-On]
It is very easy to identify the Narcissus flowers due to the presence of a corona, also commonly known as trumpet. I have mentioned this organ before, but whilst in Passiflora the corona is formed by a considerable number of needle-shape structures, Narcissus shows a petal-like structure – here the corona looks like an outer-formation of the perianth, but keep in mind that it is an independent organ and although it is fused with the perianth and is similar to it in many aspects, it is not the same thing, and it is more complex than just an outgrowth of the tepals.

Floral structures in Narcissus calcicola
Narcissus was indeed a very handsome being, but what seemed to be a bliss ended up being his curse, leading him to death. Nobody was good enough for him because nobody was at his level. He became blind with himself, focused only on his reflection – the rest of the world was a complete nothingness. Narcissus showed us in a dramatic way how important it is to respect the love from one another and that contemplation can be the solution for the problems that we keep being focused on. So do never forget, whenever you’re bending your head down, remember that the world is to be contemplated with the head up!