494-510: Narcissus is changed into a flower (II)

quae tamen, ut vīdit, quamvīs īrāta memorque

indoluit, quotiēnsque puer miserābilis ‘ēheu’              495

dīxerat, haec resonīs iterābat vōcibus ‘ēheu!’

cumque suōs manibus percusserat ille lacertōs,

haec quoque reddēbat sonitum plangōris eundem.

ultima vōx solitam fuit haec spectantis in undam:

‘heu frūstrā dīlēctē puer!’ totidemque remīsit             500

verba locus, dictōque ‘valē’ ‘vale’ inquit et Ēchō.

ille caput viridī fessum submīsit in herbā,

lūmina mors clausit dominī mīrantia fōrmam.

(tum quoque sē, postquam est īnfernā sēde receptus,

in Stygiā spectābat aquā.) plānxēre sorōrēs              505

Naidēs et sectōs frātrī posuēre capillōs,

plānxērunt Dryadēs; plangentibus adsonat Ēchō.

iamque rogum quassāsque facēs feretrumque parābant:

nusquam corpus erat; croceum prō corpore flōrem

inveniunt foliīs medium cingentibus albīs.              510

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494 quae tamen, ut vīdit… indoluit: take ut as “when,” and tamen with indoluit. Quae here is nominative and refers to Echo.

495 miserābilis puer: this is open to interpretation. Is Narcissus worthy of the reader’s pity, or is it only Echo who finds him pitiable?

497 cumque: introduces a temporal cum clause, “when….”

498 haec quoque reddēbat sonitum plangōris eundem: is it a problem that Echo can echo the sound of beating when only her voice remains to her? What effect does this visual/audio have on Ovid’s narration?

499 ultima vōx: though vox generally means “voice,” the sense given here is that these are Narcissus’s last words. Unlike many of Ovid’s metamorphoses, after all, Narcissus does not just transform: he dies. solitam… spectantis [Narcissi] in undam: he continues to gaze into the water until the moment of his death (and after!).

501 ‘valē’ ‘vale’ inquit et Ēchō: Ovid is playing off of Vergil here: Ec. 3.79 has a similar structure (et longum ‘formose, vale, vale,’ inquit, ‘Iolla’: “and long she said, ‘beautiful Iollas, farewell, farewell’”). Ovid changes the repeated farewell to an echo. The line also scans unusually—in order to make the hexameter work, the second vale is scanned short-short (as opposed to the first valē) and not elided with inquit. (cf. Anderson, 388). What effect does such a stuttering rhythm have on the line and the passage?

503 lūmina: eyes, as in 420. dominī mīrantia fōrmam: describing the lūmina. Miror, as a deponent verb, can take an accusative (fōrmam).

504-5 tum quoque sē … in Stygiā spectābat aquā: this causes some confusion—how can Narcissus stare at himself when his physical form has apparently dissolved? A difference of his shade and his corporeal form must be assumed, because otherwise we would have a flower staring at its reflection in the Styx. The fact that the previous line notes the closing of the eyes but says here that they stayed open to watch himself in the Styx, adds to the oddity of the image. plānxēre: note the repetition of this verb, first used in 498 and used twice more in 507, and the echo effect it creates.

506 frātrī: dative; the nymphs cut their own hair for their brother, not Narcissus’s hair.

508 rogum quassāsque facēs feretrumque: different funeral items (a pyre, torches, and a bier). Note the trisection of the line with the three separate, enclitic “que”s.

509-510 nusquam corpus erat… prō corpore flōrem inveniunt: it is worth noting that for all Ovid’s traditional preoccupation with the logistics of metamorphoses throughout the epic, he does not describe this transformation at all. Rather, it is as if the camera panned away when Narcissus died, and then returns to the scene after the flower has taken his place. croceum… foliīs medium cingentibus albīs: note how far croceum is detached from the rest of the flower’s description. In what some commentators (cf. Anderson, 388) would call an anticlimactic conclusion, Narcissus has turned into a fairly common, ordinary flower: the daffodil, also called the narcissus flower and the jonquil. The flower plays one other significant role in Greco-Roman myth: in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, it is a narcissus flower (once again manufactured, rather than grown naturally) that distracts Persephone long enough for Hades to abduct her. What, if anything, should we make of this unusual transformation?


quis quid after si, nisi, ne, or num: anyone, anything, someone, something

memor: remembering; mindful (of, + gen.), grateful; unforgetting, commemorative

in-dolēscō -dolēscere -doluī —: to feel pain, smart, ache, be grieved, be distressed

miserābilis –e: that deserves to be pitied; pitiable, miserable, deplorable, wretched; (> adv.), miserabile, wretchedly, pitiably (> miseror)

ēheu: alas! oh no!

resonō resonāre resonāvī resonātus: to sound again, resound, ring, reecho

ēheu: alas! oh no!

mānēs –ium m. pl: ghosts, the Underworld

percutiō percutere percussī percussum: to hit, strike

lacertus –ī m.: the arm, esp. the upper arm

sonitus –ūs m.: a sounding; noise; roaring; thunder (> sono)

plangor –ōris m.: lamentation by beating the breast; lamentation, wailing, cry of grief (> plango)

heu: alas! oh!

dīlectiō dīlectiōnis f.: love, affection

totidem: just as many

remittō remittere remīsī remissum: to send back, release

ēcho -ūs f.: echo; a nymph named Echo

viridis –e: green

submittō submittere submīsī submissum: to place under, submit

herba herbae f.: grass, herb

dominus dominī m.: master, lord

īnfernus –a –um: that which is below; of Hades, infernal (> inferus)

Stygius –a –um: pertaining to the Styx; of Hades; Stygian (> Styx)

plangō –ere –plānxī –planctus: to beat, strike, smite the breast; hence, intransitive, lament, wail (cf. plaga)

Nāias –adis or Nāis –idis f.: a water–nymph, Naiad

secō secāre secuī sectum: to cut

capillus capillī m.: hair

plangō –ere –plānxī –planctus: to beat, strike, smite the breast; hence, intransitive, lament, wail (cf. plaga)

dryas –adis f.: a Dryad, wood-nymph

plangō –ere –plānxī –planctus: to beat, strike, smite the breast; hence, intransitive, lament, wail (cf. plaga)

as-sonō -sonāre — —: to sound, respond to

ēcho -ūs f.: echo; a nymph named Echo

rogus rogī m.: funeral pile

quassō quassāre quassāvī quassātus: to shake violently, toss, brandish, wave

feretrum –ī n.: a bier (> fero)

nusquam: nowhere; on no occasion

croceus –a –um: of saffron; saffron–colored, yellow (> crocus)

folium foli(ī) n.: leaf

medium medi(ī) n.: middle

Source: https://iris.haverford.edu/echo/494-510-narcissus-is-changed-into-a-flower-ii/