You're right- that's not Narcissus above. This Greek Super Hero art by Nicholas Hyde (his website here) cracked me up. Spiderman and- a guy with a spear? He looks kind of blind... reminds me of the Japanese character Zatoichi, the blind itinerant masseur-swordsman (link here). Watch the old ones, the b&w. This is truly mythic (as well as amusing) stuff, in line with the wisdom of the blind theme we have in Tiresias. As an example, check out the link below.
The text I'm using to interpret Narcissus's story is found on the Theoi.com website here. The link goes to the page for stories of the house (meaning a clan, basically) of Cadmus, and I believe Echo and Narcissus is the 5th story in the series. So just scroll down til you find it. You will not have to read it, though- I'm writing this in such a manner that you may avoid reading it if you don't want to. I am very much not a Greek scholar, in case anyone thought I might be or should be. My formal educational background is in psychology. Actually Ovid was Roman; he lived through the turn of the millennia. The Romans borrowed a lot of Greek Culture.
Narcissus is fifteen and "might seem a man or boy" in Ovid's words, to stress he was neither yet. His Mom is a water nymph, Liriope, a fountain nymph; they are known to dwell in pools and springs specifically. His Dad is a a river god, from the river Cephissus, and named the same. Ovid says "he was born to her upon the green merge of Cephissus's stream"; here's the subject of two things coming together, like the merging of childhood and adulthood that occurs in adolescence. Narcissus is born of water; he has an affinity, a gift, an inheritance to the element. Mom is the stillness, and his Dad is the moving water, the river flow. In this we're invited to enter the imaginative space where water's powers and gifts reside. Narcissus is going to be initiated using water element, as was the sister in the song Dreadful Wind and Rain from earlier posts.
These spirits, which I like to imagine as a human personification of the soul of Nature and of place, are always being pursued by gods. This points to the fact of the magnetic nature of soul, an ethereal and compelling force that's in everything here, and also that soul is particularly personified as female in my cultural tradition. Pan and the satyrs would be male personifications of nature. They are more like animals than place-oriented, though, and...
Oh, and Narcissus is "unequalled for his beauty", maybe something he got from his mother and father, for water is captivating in its beauty sometimes, as is the moon I shall make reference to shortly. As I mentioned in the Fairy Tale page essay, his beauty serves an archetypal (definition see metaphor 101) purpose. If we want to put ourselves in his story, we can imagine ourselves as beautiful, yes. However, exceptional gifts in transformational fairy tale and myth are often talking about ALL of our gifts; we are all of us gifted in some way. Mythic beauty is about our destiny in that sense, and how we relate to the gifts we have received as a part of our fate, surely an important part of our destinies, right? Remember, fate is what we're given- birth place and time, family and friends and lovers, body, gender, traumas and gifts and more- and destiny is what we do with them. The exceptionally gifted humans in any manner, whether it's with beauty, talent, wealth, spirit, the ability to love and be loved, always bring to us the feeling sense, the imaginative space, of destiny itself. That's why they can be so inspiring.
Liriope asks Tiresias to forecast her son's longevity. The answer (translated, of course, from the Latin) is "If he but fail to recognize himself, a long life he may have, beneath the sun".
So Death comes in early to haunt this story (Mom's basically asking about when he'll die), along with the themes of gifts and destiny. And self reflection is here: "If he but fail to recognize himself". It's actually amazing to me that people would not see this statement as an obvious albeit Sybilline pointer to self knowledge but... I mean, it's silly to think that the guy REALLY doesn't recognize himself. A monkey or an elephant knows their reflection, not to demean the intelligence of either. They surely know things we humans do not. Theoi.com's entry on Narcissus includes a reference from Pausanias (the 2nd C. Greek geographer I assume) that agrees with me. He cites an older version of the story where Narcissus and his twin sister (they loved to hunt together; more on that later) were the two characters, and Narcissus looks for his sister in the pool reflection. He's looking for his other self, his female aspect or anima, his soul connection lost as he entered adulthood. This is such a common plot in contemporary "male enlightenment" film, the search for the feminine within.
It's important to realize that in alchemical, symbolic story, there is very little fat in the form of unnecessary references; they can't be cluttered with too much random stuff, like the films I put in my e book's Whoops! category. Otherwise you can't interpret them. So we notice the sun is mentioned here; the prophecy ends with the phrase "beneath the sun".
So here's my translation of Tiresias's metaphorical prophecy (and what's the use of being a prophet if you can't get cryptic): If Narcissus doesn't go deep within himself and find his inner connection with soul and spirit, he'll live a long life (itself a very goal-oriented wish) of a relatively shallow sort. In that he would have chosen quantity over quality, whereas a basic value judgment the soul centered person must make is quite the opposite. In the soul there is no time, only fulfillment. A moment is a lifetime, one of the allures of the altered consciousness of infatuated love. If Narcissus doesn't "recognize", meet and understand his inner divinity, he will not realize the gift of soulful beauty he carries because he is concerned with his mortality, basically.
And here's a riddle for you: What does it mean that Echo is described by Ovid as one "who never held her tongue when others spoke, who never spoke till others had begun"?
It's hard to leave you today, just getting into the thick of this myth, but I shall, with a song I'm currently learning that has a direct reference to symbolism and its alchemy. Raglan Road is an Irish love song made of an old Irish tune called The Dawning of the Day and a poem by a fella named Patrick Kavanagh. It's got plenty of metaphor; there's death of the relationship, "I said let grief be a fallen leaf". There's the transitional, transformational, magical space of dawn, meeting between day and night, in "the dawning of the day". The lovers balance on the ledge of a deep love-ravine that reminds us of the deep, deadly, "strange delusion of his frenzied love" Narcissus finds within, "the enchanted way" in Kavanagh's words. We'll soon see as well that the folks who were desirous of Narcissus to the point of cursing him "loved not as they should"; they saw "a creature made of clay". And Kavanagh talks about art and symbol in this one verse, the third:
I gave her gifts of the mind, I gave her the secret signs
That's known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
Her words and tint without a stint, I gave her poems to say...
The true (or eternal) gods of sound and stone are the spirits, the souls, the archetypes therein. Such underlying sacredness is in the word "tint", or color. Not only is the word "color" a metaphor in itself, each color having its own way of being in the world and its own way of impressing human psyche, soul, and spirit, but often paint colors are made from stones, from minerals. The "secret signs" are what I'm teaching here, the sorcerer's stone science of alchemy, of metaphor, of archetype, that long implied that poets, bards, "artists who have known" were wise ones, and that wise magicians were often bards. The man singing for us, Dick Gaughan, is surely one of those bards who have known at least a bit, if not much, much more.
[D]On Raglan Road of an Autumn[G] day I[D] saw her[G] first and[D] knew,
That[G] her dark hair would[D] weave a snare That I might[Bm] someday[A] rue.
I[G] saw the danger[D] and I passed Along the en[Bm]chanted[A] way.
And I[D] said,"Let grief be a fallen[G] leaf At the[D] dawning[G] of the[D] day."
On Grafton Street in November, we/ Tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen/ The worth of passion play.
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts/ And I not making hay;
Oh, I loved too much and by such and such/ Is happiness thrown away.
I gave her gifts of the mind, I gave her the secret signs,
That's known to the artists who have known/ The true gods of sound and stone
And her words and tint without a stint/ I gave her poems to say
With her own name there and her own dark hair/ Like clouds over fields of May.
On a quiet street where old ghosts meet/ I see her walking now,
And away from me so hurriedly/ My reason must allow
That I had loved, not as I should/ A creature made of clay,
When the angel woos the clay, he'll lose/ His wings at the dawn of day.