thy wretched pelf


Narcissus didn't choose to be beautiful. It just happened to him. His own physical perfection was beyond his control.


He also didn't do anything to encourage the love of others. Echo pursued; all he did was to spurn her, as was entirely proper, since he did not reciprocate the feeling.


That she wasted away was beyond his power to prevent. Which means that the gods' revenge on him was unfair (as it always tends to be in these stories).


And then when Narcissus caught sight of his own reflection in the pool, it was the intensity of his own beauty (which, again, was not his fault) that overthrew him entirely. It had the exact effect on him as it had on Echo, and he was just as trapped and as doomed by it as she.


This is what separates Narcissus from garden-variety narcissists like you and me―the fact that his falling in love with his own reflection, and subsequently destroying himself over it, was brought about by, and made inevitable by, his own perfect and fatal beauty.


In other words, his narcissism, unlike yours or mine, was justified.