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Echo. 3116 (detail): The nymph Echo changed into sound. Bernard Picart (1673-1733), Fabeln der Alten (Musen-Tempel), 1754.

Echo was a nymph whose power of speech was curtailed by Hera, so that she merely repeated the concluding phrases of a speech and returned the words she heard. Hera did this because Echo, holding the goddess in long talk, prevented her to catch the NYMPHS who had been in company with her husband.

"That tongue of yours, by which I have been tricked, shall have its power curtailed and enjoy the briefest use of speech." (Hera to Echo. Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.365).

Echo was educated by the NYMPHS, and taught to play music by the MUSES. Some say Echo fled from all males, whether men or gods, because she loved virginity. Seeing that, Pan took occasion to be angry at her, and to envy her music because he could not come at her beauty. Therefore he turned mad the shepherds and goatherds, and they, like dogs and wolves, tore her to pieces, and flung them about them all over the earth. Gaia then buried them, preserving their musical property. And by a decree of the MUSES they breathe out a voice, imitating all things.

But it is also said that Echo fell in love with Narcissus, who spurned her love, and that she, because of her grief, faded away with the exception of her voice. Echo, they say, disappeared from woods and mountains so completely that not even her bones remained, which were turned into stone. It has also been told that when the NYMPHS grieved Narcissus and were preparing his funeral pyre, Echo was among them. The NYMPHS could not find his body then, but in its place they found the flower, which still today bears his name.



Mortal Father & Nymph 20

Related sections



Long.3.23; Nonn.4.327, 48.581; Ov.Met.3.342, 3.365ff., 3.395ff., 3.415ff., 3.509; Pau.9.31.7.