Kristin Lisenby Kristin Lisenby
3 minute read

Before Echo saw Narcissus and fell in love, long before she met the spell that forced her to speak in echoes, the mountain nymph lived worry-free.

Like her fellow nymphs, Echo was beautiful and alluring. She was admired by mortals and gods, not only for her charming looks but her enchanting personality.

You see, Echo had a way with words. When she spoke, people listened. It was almost like her words cast a spell. She could wax poetic about the moon, the seasons, the plight of this or that, and people drank Echo’s words as if they were dying of thirst.

But however eloquent she was, it was her gift of gab that led to her demise.

Zeus was partly to blame as well, for he took a liking to Echo. No matter that he was married, the god of gods would regularly visit the mountains to mingle with nymphs, mortals, and anyone else who caught his attention. Although he and Echo had a platonic relationship (or so they say), he saw the nymph as a precious commodity. Because who better to distract Hera when she came looking for her wayward husband than a chatty nymph?

Zeus showered Echo in gifts and compliments and explained that whenever Hera came around, the nymph was to trap her in conversation. That way, Zeus would always get away, Hera would be none the wiser, and no harm would be done. Right?

And perhaps because Echo believed Zeus was her friend, or because it would have been unwise to deny the mighty Olympian, Echo agreed.

But Hera was the queen of gods, and although she was known for jealousy and spite, she was also cunning. She didn’t need to see her husband intermingled with another to know his trysts existed, so when Echo conveniently appeared every time Hera went looking for him, the ruse was up.

At first, Hera was sad. She thought she’d made a friend in Echo (for she truly did have a way with words), but Hera knew to read between the lines. She smelled a rat, and the rat was Echo.

Irritated that a mountain nymph had been able to distract her Highness time and time again, Hera summoned a curse. With a flick of her wrist, Hera stole Echo’s voice. From that day onward, Echo would no longer be able to discuss the stars or dreams. She couldn’t reply to the wind as it blew through the trees, and her stories wouldn’t capture the attention of curious, wide-eyed mortals.

She wasn’t mute, per se, but close. Since she could only repeat the words of others, Zeus no longer had a use for the nymph. Echo was ignored, ridiculed, and cast out from the others.

And then, Echo met Narcissus

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