Echo is a noun and is defined as a repetition or imitation of another.
Echo is one of the many words in the English language that has its roots in Greek mythology. In this case, the word echo derives from the story of the nymph Echo written by the Roman poet Ovid in his epic poem Metamorphoses. We were introduced to Echo in last week’s Word of the Week: Narcissism.
Like many Greek myths, this story arises from another one of Zeus’s infidelities against Hera. Zeus would often visit Earth and during his visits he would consort among the nymphs. Becoming suspicious of Zeus’s whereabouts, Hera attempted to confront Zeus mingling with the nymphs. However, Zeus found out about Hera’s plan and forced the nymph Echo to distract Hera with lengthy conversation. After figuring out what Zeus had done, Hera became enraged and cursed Echo to only speak the last words spoken to her.
Sometime later, while Echo was wandering around the forest she runs into the handsome hunter Narcissus, and immediately falls in love with him. However, because of Hera’s curse she is unable to talk with him. When she finally has the chance to talk with Narcissus, he rejects her. Humiliated, Echo runs away, but her love for him was too strong.
After Narcissus is cursed by Nemesis, he meets death while staring at himself in the river. As he dies, Echo admires him from a distance, only able to repeat his last words. Heartbroken, Echo begins to waste away and all that remains of her is the sound of her voice.
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Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “echo.”