Story Of Narcissus
"A youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning he fell into the lake and drowned."
"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."
The story of Narcissus is about Vanity. Vanity, by definition, means excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements. Because this portion of the book is located in the prologue it is expected that you will see this idea show up throughout the book. Most people see vanity as wrong. But throughout this book we see that believing in yourself and having some pride can help us through our journey in life. But this story of Narcissus helps to remind us that too much vanity, is a bad thing.
By reading the Story of Narcissus in the prologue, the alchemist is foreshadowing the belief that assisting people in noticing their value is an important task. Although the story is usually thought to just be about vanity, there is a deeper meaning. While Narcissus was using the lake to look at his own reflection, he was also assisting the lake in seeing its own true beauty.
Narcissus in Other Places
The story of Narcissus appears in many other pieces of literature, such as Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and many different works of poetry, like Rainer Maria Rilke, Seamus Heany, and A. E. Housman.