| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
HIS story has nothing to do with Apollo: but I
may as well tell it among the other flower stories.
There was a very beautiful nymph named Echo,
who had never, in all her life, seen anybody handsomer
than the god Pan. You have read that Pan was the
chief of all the Satyrs, and what hideous monsters the
 Satyrs were. So, when Pan made love to her, she very
naturally kept him at a distance: and, as she supposed
him to be no worse-looking than the rest of the world,
she made up her mind to have nothing to do with love
or love-making, and was quite content to ramble about
the woods all alone.
But one day, to her surprise, she happened to meet
with a young man who was as different from Pan as
any creature could be. Instead of having a goat's
legs and long hairy arms, he was as graceful as Apollo
himself: no horns grew out of his forehead, and his
ears were not long, pointed, and covered with hair, but
just like Echo's own. And he was just as beautiful in
face as he was graceful in form. I doubt if Echo
would have thought even Apollo himself so beautiful.
The nymphs were rather shy, and Echo was the
very shyest of them all. But she admired him so
much that she could not leave the spot, and at last
she even plucked up courage enough to ask him,
"What is the name of the most beautiful being in the
"Whom do you mean?" asked he. "Yourself?
If you want to know your own name, you can tell it
better than I can."
"No," said Echo, "I don't mean myself. I mean
you. What is your name?"
 "My name is Narcissus," said he. "But as for my
being beautiful—that is absurd."
"Narcissus!" repeated Echo to herself. "It is a
beautiful name. Which of the nymphs have you come
to meet here in these woods all alone? She is lucky—whoever
she may be."
"I have come to meet nobody," said Narcissus.
"But—am I really so beautiful? I have often been
told so by other girls, of course; but really it is more
than I can quite believe."
"And you don't care for any of those girls?"
"Why, you see," said Narcissus, "when all the
girls one knows call one beautiful, there's no reason
why I should care for one more than another. They
all seem alike when they are all always saying just the
same thing. Ah! I do wish I could see myself, so
that I could tell if it was really true. I would marry
the girl who could give me the wish of my heart—to
see myself as other people see me. But as nobody can
make me do that, why, I suppose I shall get on very
well without marrying anybody at all."
Looking-glasses had not been invented in those days,
so that Narcissus had really never seen even so much
of himself as his chin.
"What!" cried Echo, full of hope and joy; "if
I make you see your own face, you will marry
 "I said so," said he. "And of course what I say
I'll do, I'll do."
"Then—come with me!"
Echo took him by the hand and led him to the edge
of a little lake in the middle of the wood, full of clear
"Kneel down, Narcissus," said she, "and bend your
eyes over the water-side. That lake is the mirror
where Diana comes every morning to dress her hair,
and in which, every night, the moon and the stars
behold themselves. Look into that water, and see
what manner of man you are!"
Narcissus kneeled down and looked into the lake.
And, better than in any common looking-glass, he saw
the reflected image of his own face—and he looked,
and looked, and could not take his eyes away.
But Echo at last grew tired of waiting. "Have you
forgotten what you promised me?" asked she. "Are
you content now? Do you see now that what I told
you is true?"
He lifted his eyes at last. "Oh, beautiful creature
that I am!" said he. "I am indeed the most divine
creature in the whole wide world. I love myself
madly. Go away. I want to be with my beautiful
image, with myself, all alone. I can't marry you. I
shall never love anybody but myself for the rest of my
 days." And he kneeled down and gazed at himself
once more, while poor Echo had to go weeping away.
Narcissus had spoken truly. He loved himself and
his own face so much that he could think of nothing
else: he spent all his days and nights by the lake, and
never took his eyes away. But unluckily his image,
which was only a shadow in the water, could not love
him back again. And so he pined away until he died.
And when his friends came to look for his body, they
found nothing but a flower, into which his soul had
turned. So they called it the Narcissus, and we call
it so still. And yet I don't know that it is a particularly
conceited or selfish flower.
As for poor Echo, she pined away too. She faded
and faded until nothing was left of her but her voice.
There are many places where she can even now be
heard. And she still has the same trick of saying to
vain and foolish people whatever they say to themselves,
or whatever they would like best to hear said
to them. If you go where Echo is, and call out loudly,
"I am beautiful!"—she will echo your very words.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics