The Triumph of Venus: The Erotics of the Market

By Jeanne Lorraine Schroeder | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Narcissus's Death
The Calabresi-Melamed Trichotomy1

PROLOGUE: NARCISSUS AND ECHO

Narcissus was the most beautiful of mortals and he knew it. Loved by both men and women, he was unable to return love.2 The seer Teresias predicted that Narcissus would live as long as he failed to recognize himself. Although Narcissus dismissed this as nonsense, it was destined to come to pass.

The oread Echo was known for her ability to speak. She would regale others for hours with the latest gossip and clever, but empty, small talk. Zeus thought Echo would make a perfect handmaiden for his wife, Hera, and installed her in the Olympian palace. While Echo diverted Hera, Zeus could slip out for trysts with his many mistresses. When Hera discovered Zeus's ruse, she turned her jealous rage against the silly nymph and punished her with an appropriate curse. Echo would never again initiate a conversation, but would only repeat what others said.

The fates were even crueler than Hera to Echo; they caused her to fall in love with Narcissus. Unable to articulate her love, Echo was spurned by Narcissus. As a result, her desire turned from Eros into Thanatos, and she starved herself. But even this desire was thwarted, because, being a nymph, she was immortal. Consequently, although she wasted away, she lived on as a disembodied voice.

____________________
1
An earlier version of this chapter was published as Jeanne L. Schroeder, Three's a Crowd: A Feminist Critique of Calabresi and Melamed's One View of the Cathedral, 84 Cornell L. Rev. 394 (1999) [hereinafter, Shroeder, Three's a Crowd].
2
My account is based primarily on Ovid, The Metamorphoses, and Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 286 (1955).

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