Mythology

Clytie was a water-nymph in love with Apollo. He rejected her love and spurned her. Each day she pined for him, sitting on the ground with her arms outstretched to the sky. When the sun would rise, she would gaze upon him, and as he moved across the sky, her eyes would follow and see nothing else. Finally after nine days, with only the dew and her own tears for sustenance, she sprouted roots and her face became a sunflower, forever to follow the sun across the sky.

from Thomas Moore

The heart that has truly loved, never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose.


 

Echo was a beautiful goddess. Because her idle chatter annoyed Juno, he condemned her with no voice except to reply. Echo fell in love with Narcissus but could not express her feelings for him because she could only reply. The only way she could let him know of her fondness was to mimic his words. Narcissus, unfortunately for Echo, was quite uninterested and ignored her. When she realized his haughty disinterest, she left to live in the caves and mountains. Now, only her voice remains as she echoes others' words. Narcissus was the embodiment of self-conceit. He had shunned all the nymphs. One maiden prayed the he would someday know what it was like to love and feel no return of affection. Thus, one day while Narcissus was leaning over a water bank, he saw his reflection and fell in love. He stayed there long hours and talked to his reflection, tried to embrace it, and pined for it. There, gazing in his conceit at his reflection, he died. The nymphs went to find his body to lay on a pyre, but instead of finding it, they found that a flower had sprung up in its place. They named the flower Narcissus in his memory.


Circe was a goddess with great enchantment. But she had a nasty habit of turning men into swine. She would sing sweetly and lure them into her home, then offer them fine food and wine. When they were done dining, she would touch them with her wand and they would change. Still possessing all their intellect, they had the head and body of pigs. Once, she entreated the army of Ulysses. Having been forewarned, Ulysses was able to fend off her advances and avoid her spells.

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses'
by John William Waterhouse


A beautiful Greek goddess, Helen was the daughter of Zeus and the wife of King Menelaus. Her kidnapping by Paris was the cause of the Trojan War.

from Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come give me my soul again!
Here will I dwell for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena...