Where Does the Word “Narcissus” (Narcotic) Come From and What Does Narcissus Mean?

After the nymph Echo was permitted to speak only when she heard another voice and could then repeat only what she heard, (See ECHO) it was her further misfortune to fall in love with the youth, Narcissus.

This young man, according to Greek mythology, was exceptionally handsome. There are several stories that account for his ultimate fate.

In one it is said that he was wholly untouched by the feeling of love, and when Echo pined away in grief over her unrequited love she prayed that he might fall in love with himself. And this, when Narcissus chanced to see his own beautiful face reflected from a pool, is what he did.

As he was unable to approach his own image, he in turn perished with love. One account says that he melted away into the pool in which he saw his reflection.

In another tale, in which Echo plays no part, it is said that Narcissus had a twin sister as fair as himself and with identical features. His love for her was so great that, to recall her image to him after her death, he sat and gazed constantly at his own reflection in a pool until he himself died with grief.

In all the stories it is further related that after the death of Narcissus his body was changed by the gods into the flower that bears his name. The Greeks considered the narcissus to be sacred to Hades and a symbol of death.

Varieties of the plant contain properties that induce sleep; hence, narcotic and other derivatives are based upon the same term.

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