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Alexandre Cabanel's picture of Echo

In Greek mythology, Echo (Greek: Ἠχώ, Ēkhō; "Sound") was an Oread (a mountain nymph) who loved her own voice. Zeus loved consorting with beautiful nymphs and visited them on Earth often. Eventually, Zeus's wife, Hera, became suspicious, and came from Mt. Olympus in an attempt to catch Zeus with the nymphs.

Zeus, the King of the Olympians, was known for his many love affairs. Sometimes the young and beautiful nymph Echo would distract and amuse his wife Hera with long and entertaining stories, while Zeus took advantage of the moment to ravish the other mountain nymphs. When Hera discovered the trickery she punished the talkative Echo by taking away her voice, except in foolish repetition of another's shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.[1]

Echo fell in love with a vain youth named Narcissus, who was the son of the blue Nymph Leirope of Thespia. The river god Cephisus had once encircled Leirope with the windings of his streams, trapping her, and seduced the nymph. Concerned about her infant son's future, Leirope consulted the seer Teiresias. Teiresias told the nymph that Narcissus "would live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knew himself."[1]

One day when Narcissus was out hunting stags, Echo stealthily followed the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard footsteps and shouted "Who's there?", Echo answered "Who's there?" And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace the lovely youth. He pulled away from the nymph and vainly told her to leave him alone. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken, and she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens pining away for the love she never knew, crying until all that was left was her voice. However, in other versions Echo cries until she is stone and an invisible Echo (probably her ghost/spirit) haunts the Earth.

Ovid's version[1] of the tale states that a girl who had also fallen in love with Narcissus made a prayer to the gods, asking that Narcissus suffer from an unrequited lust just as he had done to others. The prayer was answered by the goddess Nemesis - (she who ruins the proud), makes him fall in love with his own reflection so he stares at himself in the river (as he thinks it is a beautiful person underwater) until he turns pale and eventually dies.

Alternatively, Echo was a nymph who was a great singer and dancer and scorned the love of any man. This angered Pan, a lecherous god, and he instructed his followers to kill her. Echo was torn to pieces and spread all over the Earth. The goddess of the earth, Gaia, received the pieces of Echo, whose voice remains repeating the last words of others. In some versions, Echo and Pan had two children: Iambe and Iynx

Other cultures

In 2008, director Gabriel Bologna, wrote and directed the horror film, "The Black Waters of Echo's pond," about an evil board game based on the mythology of Echo and hererased once her last mission is done.


  1. ^ a b c Ovid, 'Metamorphoses'. New york: Oxford University Press Inc., 1998. Print. Trans. Melville, A.D. (pages 61-66)

Simple English

painter Alexandre Cabanel ]]
Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

Echo was a nymph in Mythology, and an Oread (a mountain nymph). She was very beautiful, but loved her own voice.


According to Ovid, Echo once had the job of distracting Hera from Zeus having relationships with other women. She did this by leading Hera away and flattering her. When Hera found out she was very angry with Echo. She put a curse on her that meant that she could only speak the last words of other people after she had heard them. It is due to this story that we get the meaning behind the word echo.


After she was cursed, Echo fell in love with Narcissus. Narcissus was very handsome and anybody who saw him always fell in love with him. However, Narcissus had no heart and could not fall in love with anybody. Echo could not speak to Narcissus but wanted to be able to see him. She therefore followed him everywhere, but made sure that he could not see her.

Narcissus got lost and called out "Is anyone here?". Echo said back "Here, here, here." Narcissus then asked Echo to come out of her hiding place. Echo did so and then told Narcissus that she loved him by hand movements. Narcissus, who was angry that so many people loved him, told Echo that he did not love her.

Echo was very upset and prayed to Aphrodite for death. Aphrodite granted Echo's wish, but she liked Echo's voice so much she kept it alive.

Narcissus also rejected Echo and broke her heart. She then went and haunted valleys and mountainous ares where echoes are able to be heard in all hollow places of the earth.


This is a different story about Echo's death. Echo was a very good dancer and singer, but did not like the love of any man. This caused another god, called Pan, to become angry. He had Echo killed and split into pieces. These pieces were spread about the world, but were collected up by Gaia. Echo's voice was not collected, so it remains all over the world and still says the last words that other people have said. In some versions of the story, Echo and Pan have a child who was called Iambe.

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