Flash Fiction: Narcissus’s Defense Statement


The tribunals went on without rest in Hades. There were three judges Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aecus. All the souls in the Underworld were judged and assigned their spots in the Netherworld by them. There was a theater-sized gallery filled with souls awaiting their turn instead of a lineup. The defendants came down into the stage area when their name was called. In the meantime they watched the judgment of those who passed before them in the theater’s seats.

The gallery was speechless when Narcissus was called. “Narcissus of Thespiae you are responsible for the deaths of your admirers who pined away for you. Most notable among your victims was the nymph Echo. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Many people in the courtroom smirked at this. Narcissus may have had admirers, but he had also had haters in his life. Some were angry over being scorned by him. Others were jealous because someone they wanted had preferred him instead.

Narcissist lifted his chin. If only to better show off his chiseled profile. “The nymph Clytia pined away for Apollo too yet it was never laid to his charge.”

Minos’s brows came together. “Apollo is the God of the Sun. You were a hunter. There is no comparison.”

“Is the right to say ‘no’ a divine prerogative?” Narcissus asked with an arched brow.

People in the courtroom muttered. They hadn’t expected Narcissus to come up with a quick answer to this charge.

“Gods outrank nymphs. Nymphs outrank mortals.” Aecus mused.

“Yes, but Echo was a nymph cursed by Hera. She was unable to speak for herself but could only repeat what she heard. This was her punishment after she distracted Hera with gossip while Zeus dallied. Surely this makes her of a lower order than a mortal?”

The judges exchanged glances with each other.

He continued,” I heard you were ordered to continue Echo’s curse even after her death. Even a mortal may refuse to associate with her out of loyalty to the Gods?”

Aecus’s brows rose.”You make a compelling argument.”

Minos sighed. “We assign you to be a greeter of new arrivals in the Elysian Fields. You’ll also drink from the River Lethe to wipe your slate clean.”

Boos and hisses came from the gallery. This time Narcissus was the one smirking.

At least the waters of Lethe would help him forget about this. He’d find it hard to forgive them otherwise.

That was probably the secret to peaceful coexistence in the Elysian Fields. Animosity was overcome by ridding all memories of past histories.

The judges ignored the gallery’s response to their judgment. Any objectors would get sent to Tartarus or have their memories purged with Lethe waters. This was the secret to order within their court.

You can check out more takes on Greek hubris in my release A Heart for Hubris.

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2 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Narcissus’s Defense Statement

    • The versions I read of the myth say Narcissus was afflicted with his narcissism when those he scorned complained to the gods. Which is why I have his statement asking “is the right to say ‘no’ a divine prerogative?” It doesn’t say if he was vain before this though he’s the archetype of narcissists nowadays who chose to be self involved. Letting him be punished with narcissism is giving too much power to creepy stalkers.

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