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Narcissus, (died ad 54), freedman who used his position as correspondence secretary (ab epistulis) to the Roman emperor Claudius (ruled 41–54) to become, in effect, a minister of state.
Narcissus exercised great influence over Claudius and amassed the enormous personal fortune of 400 million sesterces. In 43 he represented Claudius in Gaul, overseeing the departure of the army for the invasion of Britain that military success was the basis of Claudius’s enduring popularity. Narcissus collaborated with Claudius’s third wife, Valeria Messalina, in protecting Claudius from various attacks. In 48 Messalina went through a marriage ceremony with her lover, the consul Gaius Silius. Narcissus informed Claudius, who was stunned and confused, and Narcissus obtained the emperor’s permission to execute the lovers and their prominent associates. For his service to the emperor he was awarded the right to wear the decorations and garb of a quaestor (the lowest regular magistrate) and to be treated accordingly on public occasions (although he was not made a member of the Senate).
His power soon eroded. In 49 Claudius married his own niece Julia Agrippina (Agrippina the Younger) instead of Narcissus’s candidate. The freedman Marcus Antonius Pallas, who had promoted Agrippina’s cause (and was rumoured to be her lover), received the right to wear the decorations and garb of a praetor, a magisterial rank superior to that of quaestor. Under their influence, Claudius recognized as his heir Agrippina’s son (with Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus), Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, instead of his own son, Britannicus, who had been supported by Narcissus. In 52 Narcissus mismanaged the draining of the Fucine Lake (a project that was not fully successful until the 19th century). When Claudius died in 54—poisoned by Agrippina, it was popularly thought—her son, the new emperor, who had taken the name Nero, had Narcissus arrested and compelled him to commit suicide.
Narcissistic personality disorder has its earliest roots in ancient Greek mythology. According to the myth, Narcissus was a handsome and proud young man. Upon seeing his reflection on the water for the first time, he became so enamored that he could not stop gazing at his own image. He remained at the water's edge until he eventually wasted to death.
The concept of excessive self-admiration has also been explored by various philosophers and thinkers throughout history. In the past, the idea was known as hubris, a state of extreme arrogance and haughtiness that often involves being out of touch with reality.
It wasn't until fairly recently that the notion of narcissism as a disorder became a subject of scientific interest in the field of psychology.
During the early 1900s, the topic of narcissism started to attract interest in the growing school of thought known as psychoanalysis. Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Rank published one of the earliest descriptions of narcissism in 1911, in which he connected it to self-admiration and vanity.
In 1914, the famous Sigmund Freud published a paper titled, On Narcissism: An Introduction. Freud proposed a rather complicated set of ideas in which he suggested that narcissism is connected to whether one's libido (energy that lies behind each person's survival instincts) is directed inward toward one's self, or outward toward others. He felt that infants directed all of the libido inward, a state he referred to as primary narcissism.
In Freud's model, there was a fixed amount of this energy, and to the degree this libido was directed outward toward attachment to others, it would diminish the amount available to one's self. By "giving away" this love, Freud suggested that people experienced diminished primary narcissism, and in order to replenish this capacity, he believed that receiving love and affection in the world in return was vital to maintaining a sense of satisfaction.
In addition, in Freud's theory of personality, a person's sense of himself develops as a child interacts with the outside world and begins to learn social norms and cultural expectations leading to the development of an ego ideal, or a perfect image of oneself that the ego strives to attain.
Another important part of Freud's theory is the idea that this love of one's self could be transferred to another person or object. By giving away love, Freud suggested that people experienced diminished primary narcissism, leaving them less able to nurture, protect, and defend themselves. In order to replenish this capacity, he believed that receiving love and affection in return was vital.
Narcissus is a classical Greek name in honor of a beautiful youth who became so entranced with his own reflection that he pined away and the gods turned him into this flower. Although the name daffodil is often applied only to the larger trumpet-flowered cultivars, with the short-cupped and multi-headed cultivars referred to as narcissi, breeders and other enthusiasts refer to all kinds as daffodils.
Narcissus species are found in a variety of habitats in Europe and North Africa ranging from sea level to subalpine meadows, woodlands and rocky places. Spain hosts the greatest variety of species, but they can also be found in Morocco, Portugal, western France, Italy, and other countries.
Daffodils were introduced into gardens at a very early stage in the history of man. About 300 BC, the Greek botanist and philosopher Theophrastus listed and described many of the earliest known kinds of narcissus in his nine-volume ‘Enquiry into Plants‘. However, it was not until the 19th century that classification of the many narcissus species was attempted.
Due to their popularity as cultivated plants, thousands of cultivars have been bred by hybridizers or “raisers” around the world. These cultivars are usually grown in spring, or less frequently in autumn or winter. The perianths (petals) are mostly yellow or white but can occasionally be orange, green, or red or a combination of these colors. Today, many cultivars have brightly colored coronas (cups) which may be yellow, white, pink, orange, red, green or a combination of these.
In 1884 the first daffodil conference of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was held and its Narcissus and Tulip Committee was formed (now called the Daffodil and Tulip Committee).
The RHS first introduced a division classification “list” in 1908 for garden and show purposes. Seven divisions were adopted, primarily based on size measurement.
By 1910, an expanded list of eleven divisions was published which, with some small amendments, served until 1950.
The eleven division scheme was enlarged to twelve in 1969, when split-corona daffodils were added and were given Division 11, while the miscellaneous daffodils formerly in Division 11 were moved to the new Division 12.
In 1975, the RHS adopted the more descriptive color coding system developed by Dr. Tom Throckmorton of Iowa, United States.
In 1998, at the request of the Royal General Bulbgrowers’ Association of The Netherlands, Division 11 was separated into two sub-groups: Collar and Papillon split-cup daffodils.
The twelve divisions were expanded to thirteen in 1998, when Bulbocodium hybrids were added. These were given Division 10, while the daffodils distinguished solely by their scientific name were shifted from this division to Division 13.
The RHS, as the International Daffodil Registration authority for cultivars, plays a vital role in promoting uniformity, accuracy and stability in the naming of Narcissus.
The RHS division classification consists of thirteen divisions or groups of daffodils, identified by numbers. Each daffodil cultivar or garden hybrid is placed into one of the first twelve divisions. Wild forms of daffodils or “species” are placed in Division 13. Whether wild or cultivated, once a selection has been distinguished by a cultivar name it is assigned to one of Divisions 1 to 12.
The Throckmorton color coding system, which is part of the official RHS daffodil classification system, divides the perianths (petals) and coronas (cups) into three zones with the color codes Y, W, O, R, P, or G.
Narcissus Spiritual Meanings & Metaphysical Correspondences
Narcissus appears as the Page of Cups in the Mythic Tarot as his former self gazing into a lake surrounded by the flowers of which he is soon to become a part. There are several meanings here on which to meditate. First, we must always be mindful that even when we have reflective moods there are always other souls in our circle, some of whom may need our help. Being in touch with Self does not mean doing so at a cost to others on the Path.
Narcissus also reminds us that there is value in self-love and self-appreciation. This gift need not come with an over-active ego. Be like the daffodil, content with the beauty of the meadow as a whole and what you bring to it.
- Hens will not lay or hatch eggs with Narcissus flowers nearby the farm
- Pointing at a daffodil with your index finger keeps it from blossoming
- Feng Shui says you will have 12 months of luck if this flower blossoms at New Years
History of Daffodils
Many may recognize daffodils, or narcissus, by their namesake in relation to the well-known Greek tale – Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus, of course, being the young man who fell in love with his own reflection. Though an interesting anecdote, the actual history of daffodils is also one which is quite fascinating.
Cultivated for centuries in gardens, daffodils were carried across Europe by Roman soldiers who believed the flower’s sap to have healing medicinal properties. Today, we know that the opposite is actually true, as daffodils (and their sap) contain toxins that can be quite harmful to humans (as well as pets). This exact attribute makes the plant resistant to damage done by deer and other wildlife.
Spreading and naturalizing easily, the beautiful flowers soon became very prominent in England, which resulted in further cultivation and the eventual spread to the eastern United States. There, the plants continued to establish themselves with (and without) the help of growers. The reliable and perennial nature of daffodil plants allowed for reproduction and spread for years to come, resulting in beautiful swaths of yellow and white daffodils.
When Narcissus fell in love with his reflection, he stopped eating and drinking, amazed by his beauty. He did nothing but admire his reflection and remained by the pond, staring at himself. In the end, he died of thirst.
Other stories, however, propose that, he didn’t realize that he had fallen in love with his reflection. When he understood that the love he felt would never materialize, he felt distraught and committed suicide. After his death, the flower narcissus emerged in the place where he died.
Narcissus and Ameinias
Narcissus, by Caravaggio, 1599, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, via caravaggio.com
According to Conon, a Greek mythographer who lived between the 1 st BCE and 1 st CE century, Echo was not the only one who found a tragic end after loving Narcissus. Ameinias was one of the first to actually persistently attempt to win Narcissus’ love. The latter rejected Ameinias and send him a sword. Ameinias used this sword to take his own life at Narcissus’ doorstep while asking Nemesis to avenge him. Nemesis then lured Narcissus to a spring causing him to fall in love with himself.
Meaning of Narcissus
The flower symbolizes new beginnings and rebirth. They are known more commonly as daffodils which are flowers that are well-known during spring. They were known to be signs of the end of winter, which is why it symbolizes rebirth as if the plants and flowers had sprung back into life.
While the flower is known to give prosperity or to wish for someone’s prosperity, this is only if you give them in a bunch. Refrain from giving a single-stemmed narcissus flower as this symbolizes misfortune.
They are also known as Lent Lily in England. This is because they are heavily associated with Lent. It is said that in Wales, if you are to spot the first daffodil of the season, for a year you would be showered with wealth and good luck. Even the Chinese believe that if you force a bulb to bloom during the new year, it would bring great luck to your home.
Narcissus, Albus Plenus Odoratus
Narcissus is the name given to the family of plants which includes jonquils. Daffodil is a common name used for all Narcissi. Narcissus are members of the Amaryllis family and are native to various parts of the world including China and Japan, the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, North Africa and western Asia.
The Latin name for the Daffodil, Narcissus, was believed to have been derived from the Greek myth about Narcissus. However, Pliny, the Roman naturalist, argues that the name, Narcissus, derives from the term narkao meaning to benumb and that it is a reference to the bulbs’ medicinal abilities to cause instant numbness.
It is believed that the Romans brought winter hardy Daffodil varieties to Britain in the early centuries AD. By the 17th century, Europeans had been cultivating daffodils for hundreds of years, and the first doubles were being developed.
The earliest European settlers to the New World brought daffodils. The town of Gloucester, VA reported large, naturalized areas of daffodils by 1651.
Along with tulips, daffodils are the most important spring bulbs in Europe and the United States. In many gardens, daffodils are the first flowers to emerge in the spring. Their joyous yellow flowers are eager to remind all of us that sunny days will soon return.
Species Miniature Narcissus are dainty plants, classic varieties, that represent narcissi as they were originally found in the wild. Most are good forcers(except N. bulbocodium). Plant 4-5” deep and 4-5” apart