Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1.23. Narcissus

LCL 256: 88-89


Philostratus: Imagines


(1) Ἡ μὲν πηγὴ γράφει τὸν Νάρκισσον, ἡ δὲ γραφὴ τὴν πηγὴν καὶ τὰ τοῦ Ναρκίσσου πάντα. μειράκιον ἄρτι θήρας ἀπηλλαγμένον 15πηγῇ ἐφέστηκεν ἕλκον τινὰ ἐξ αὑτοῦ ἵμερον καὶ ἐρῶν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ὥρας, ἀστράπτει δέ, ὡς ὁρᾷς, ἐς τὸ ὕδωρ. (2) Τὸ μὲν οὖν ἄντρον Ἀχελῴου καὶ Νυμφῶν, γέγραπται δὲ τὰ εἰκότα· φαύλου τε γὰρ τέχνης τὰ ἀγάλματα καὶ λίθου 20τοῦ1 ἐντεῦθεν, καὶ τὰ μὲν περιτέτριπται ὑπὸ τοῦ χρόνου, τὰ δὲ βουκόλων ἢ ποιμένων παῖδες περιέκοψαν ἔτι νήπιοι καὶ ἀναίσθητοι τοῦ θεοῦ. καὶ οὐδὲ ἀβάκχευτος ἡ πηγὴ τοῦ Διονύσου οἷον ἀναφήναντος αὐτὴν ταῖς Ληναῖς· ἀμπέλῳ γοῦν 25καὶ κιττῷ ἤρεπται καὶ ἕλιξι καλαῖς καὶ βοτρύων μετέσχηκε καὶ2 ὅθεν οἱ θύρσοι· κωμάζουσί τε ἐπ᾿ αὐτὴν3 σοφοὶ ὄρνιθες, ὡς ἑκάστου ἁρμονία, καὶ ἄνθη λευκὰ τῇ πηγῇ περιπέφυκεν οὔπω ὄντα, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τῷ μειρακίῳ φυόμενα. τιμῶσα 30δὲ ἡ γραφὴ τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ δρόσου τι λείβει ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθέων, οἷς καὶ μέλιττα ἐφιζάνει τις, οὐκ οἶδα εἴτ᾿ ἐξαπατηθεῖσα ὑπὸ τῆς γραφῆς,


Book I. 23

23. Narcissus

The pool paints Narcissus, and the painting represents both the pool and the whole story of Narcissus.1 A youth just returned from the hunt stands over a pool, drawing from within himself a kind of yearning and falling in love with his own beauty; and, as you see, he sheds a radiance into the water. The cave is sacred to Acheloüs and the Nymphs, and the scene is painted realistically. For the statues are of a crude art and made from a local stone; some of them are worn away by time, others have been mutilated by children of cowherds or shepherds while still young and unaware of the presence of the god. Nor is the pool without some connection with the Bacchic rites of Dionysus, since he has made it known to the Nymphs of the wine-press; at any rate it is roofed over with vine and ivy and beautiful creeping plants, and it abounds in clusters of grapes and the trees that furnish the thyrsi, and tuneful birds disport themselves above it, each with its own note, and white flowers grow about the pool, not yet in blossom but just springing up in honour of the youth. The painting has such regard for realism that it even shows drops of dew dripping from the flowers and a bee settling on the flowers—whether a real bee has been deceived by the painted flowers or whether we are to be deceived into

Narcissus gazing at his reflection

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.philostratus_elder-imagines_book_23_narcissus.1931