As I went over the small bookshelf in my room, I came upon a book that was rather one of the most valuable treasures I consider since highschool. I came upon my old Greek mythology book, MYTHOLOGY: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. This book did not only sparked my interest in literature, but it made me love it spiritually.
I grew up mesmerized by the stories of gods and goddesses, their image of perfection, and their stories of victor, leadership, and power. However, stories of greed, jealousy, and supremacy are also not new to me. I see these as representations of how people deal with mundane struggles where the gods and goddesses are monotonous representations and how their weaknesses lead to tragedies.
It is mesmerizing how these classic tales transcend through time, how their stories are still relevant to the social issues we are facing, and how mundane our responses were.
Echo and Narcissus
Plot: The story of Echo, if most of you can recall, started with the playfulness of Zeus, and jealousy of Hera. Echo was just a nymph who’s talking skills amused Hera, and because of this – Zeus was able to slip off of Hera a couple of times, which infuriated the goddess. Hence, cursing Echo only to repeat the words, never to start a talk. Until she saw Narcissus, a fine lad whose beauty appalled Echo. She then followed him, feeling frustrated that she can’t initiate a conversation. Until she saw Narcissus came upon a deep lake and fell in love with his reflection. She saw how he drowned himself to death. And because of this, it was said that Echo hid in the caverns and died in exile.
When I was in high school, it was clear to me that this story taught us the dangers of narcissism. But as I go back to it now, I came to understand the frustrations of Echo better, that she felt responsible for not being able to say anything to Narcissus that could’ve prevented his death.
Zeus was the God who started everything, this shows us that there is an ominous ill intent which we have to resist, it will look for opportunities to come to us when we drop off our guards. And Hera’s manipulative and righteous nature shows us that there is a redemption to ill will.
What happened to echo?
Looking back at it now, this story teaches us the sensitivity and social responsibility that our voices entail, how to use it responsibly and unselfishly. To our current society, we should not be still and stay quiet in the face of abuse. Hera saw that Echo irresponsibly misused her words with ill intentions that push her to curse Echo. Had she used her voice and witts responsibly, can the tragedy be prevented?
Lastly, what killed her was probably not the exile, perhaps it was her frustration and despair that she felt accountable for the death of a lad she truly admires. I find this to be very relevant in current times – Our silence causes death, even to those close to us. As social beings, we should have the responsibility to look after one another, to secure equal rights, to ensure that we get to live the life we desire. It normalizes the thought of being socially responsible for the actions of other people. That our sufferings are not ours alone, we are connected and should share the burden of societal issues.