22. Echo becomes only a voice

Once upon a time, in order that Juno did not catch her husband Jove, while he was embracing a nymph, another nymph named Echo, used to keep Juno busy with her endless stories. Due to the unending chatter of Echo, the nymphs were able to make their hasty escapes, before Juno caught them with Jove.

However, Juno came to know about this guile of Echo, and she became furious. In anger, Juno decreed that Echo’s endless chattering voice shall become shorter than Echo’s tongue, and Echo’s tongue that had freely wiggled at Juno’s expense, shall be of small use.

Juno’s decree came into effect straight away. Echo lost her own speech and she could not speak, until others had spoken. Moreover, she could only speak the last few words or sounds that others had spoken.

In her grief, Echo was wandering in the woods, when she saw Narcissus and immediately, fell in love with him. But due to the loss of her own speech, she was unable to verbally express her love for him. Therefore, she threw her arms around Narcissus, who fled away from her and rejected her amorous advances. But her love for Narcissus, caused wakeful sorrows to consume her body, and she became very thin. Thinness withered her skin, and her beautiful features dissolved away, as if melted upon the blowing hot winds. Yet, her love for Narcissus did not diminish, rather it increased all the more. As her love increased, the rejection of Narcissus and likewise, her suffering also increased. Her suffering heightened to such a state, where she lost all cares for herself and her body simply wasted away. Her flesh melted away, the bones turned to stone and only her voice remained.

Echo lay hidden in the deep woods, concealing herself in lonely hilly caverns and valleys. She existed only as a voice, without any power of her own speech and lived, only to repeat the few last words or sounds of others.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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