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Paphos Mosaics 8 – Narcissus

August 3, 2013


I have obtained some far better photos following my trip to Cyprus and can continue my series on the Paphos mosaics.

This beautiful mosaic recounts the myth of Narcissus who, by way of punishment following his rejection of the nymph Echo, fell in love with his own reflection. Narcissus could not stop staring at his reflection and withered away. The Gods took pity on Narcissus and turned him into the flower that has his name. The Narcissus grows near water thus allowing him to continue looking upon his reflection.

The mosaic has been partially reconstructed using pieces found in the area. The geometric pattern is modern, though it is based on similar patterns found elsewhere in the House of Dionysus.

The myth of Narcissus is a clear warning to the prideful; those who believe they are better than others will be punished.  Narcissus might have been beautiful on the outside but his arrogance, pride and self love was his downfall. I am particularly found of this myth as it demonstrates, in my opinion, that the concept of beauty being only skin deep is actually a belief that dates back thousands of years.

The following photos are a close up on Narcissus and his reflection:




From → Art

  1. Hi David, Loving the site – care to speculate what might have been in the top left of the frame? (Echo looking down or possibly just left blank?)

    • Hello James, I am glad you are enjoying my site and thank you for your question. It is difficult to say but having looked at some other mosaics I would suggest that it would be blank; other than the remainder of his arm. The raised arm is a particularly interesting action used in mosaics and vase paintings to indicate movement. In this particular mosaic I would suggest that it shows Narcissus’ urge to move away for sustenance. However, the observer is reminded that Narcissus cannot move as the focus of the mosaic is on Narcissus and his reflection. In addition to this the empty section would also suggest that there is a space for Narcissus to move into, if he were able to escape. The only other thought I would have is that there may have been an Eros (as with the Poseidon and Amymone) indicating his love for himself. However, there is no evidence to support this and as such is a major assumption on my part. I, therefore, believe my first suggestion is the most accurate.

      I hope that you have had a good weekend.

      Kind regards


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it – Speakeasy Magazine
  2. The Paphos Mosaic Series | David Allsop Classics

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