Verse Set Texts GCSE Latin

GCSE Latin Verse A 2023-24

Ovid, “Echo and Narcissus”; “Amor” (Petronius, Catullus)




1 aspicit (looked) – this verb describes Echo looking at Narcissus. It is emphasised by its position at the start of the line and the use of the historic present tense. This helps to focus our attention on the object of her gaze, Narcissus (hunc).


1 agitantem (hunting) – Narcissus is stalking deer (cervos) just as Echo will stalk him, and so this word introduces the theme of hunting to the story.


1 aspicit … cervos – the alliteration of c and t in this line helps to convey the sound of the fleeing deer.


2 vocalis (talkative) – this important characteristic of Echo is highlighted by its position at the start of the line, and by its repetition through synonyms (tautology): resonabilis (line 3) and garrula (line 5).


2-3 nec… nec… (neither… nor…) – the repetition of these words at the beginning of successive clauses (anaphora) emphasises Echo’s inability to say what she wants.


3 resonabilis Echo – the nymph’s name has been delayed for three whole lines (hyperbaton), making her eventual entrance all the more dramatic. The re- prefix of re-sonabilis occurs at the same point in the line as re-ticere in the line above – another instance of echo and reflection.


4-5 usum … oris (the use/power of speech) – the wide separation of these words (hyperbaton) highlights Echo’s unfortunate curse, which is explained in line 6.


5 garrula (chatty) – emphasised by its position at the beginning of the line.


8 vidit (she saw) – the enjambment creates an emphatic return to the action after the description of Echo’s speech impediment. There is also symmetry (chiastic structure) with line 1:

aspicit … hunc … Narcissum … vidit.


8 incaluit (she grew warm)  – the warmth is a metaphor for destructive love. The verb is repeated (polyptoton) in the next line with calescit (she grew warm), which gains added emphasis from its position at the end of the line and the use of the historic present tense.


8-9 sequitur…sequitur (she followed … she followed) – the repetition and historic present tense highlight Echo’s increasing obsession, whereas furtim (secretly) reminds us of her shyness, especially since it is placed at the end of the line.


9 propriore (nearer) – the comparative adjective creates suspense as the cause of Echo’s desire gets closer. What will happen if she actually touches the “flame”?


10 non aliter quam cum (just as when) – the simile conveys the violence of Echo’s emotions. She is like lively sulphur (vivacia sulphura) smeared on the ends of torches (summis circumlita taedis) which seizes (rapiunt) flames which are moved close (admotas flammas).


10 taedis (torches) – these are wedding torches: a tragic additional detail, since we know there is no chance that Echo will marry Narcissus, however much she may want it. Note the emphatic position to make us feel even more sympathy for her.


11 rapiunt – a powerful verb to describe what Echo longs to do, and in sharp contrast to what she is actually doing (hiding herself from Narcissus).


12 admotas … flammas – the repeated a sound in this line (assonance) makes the simile even more striking.


12 o quotiens (O, how many times) – the exclamation “o” could be seen as invoking the gods in an attempt to increase our sympathy for Echo. But perhaps Ovid is being deliberately over the top to create a humorous effect. It is impossible to say for certain, so we can choose the interpretation we prefer.


13 natura repugnat (her condition prevented) – the violence of the verb conveys the cruelty of Juno’s curse, contrasts with Echo’s sweet words (blandis dictis) and tender entreaties (molles preces), and is emphasised by its position.


14 nec sinit incipiat (nor does it allow her to begin) – a repetition (tautology) of the sense of repugnat, highlighting the power of the curse to limit Echo’s speech.


15 exspectare sonos…verba remittat: the chiasmus (verb…object…object…verb) neatly reflects what is being explained: the phenomenon of an echo.


15 sua verba (her own words) – cruelly ironic, given Echo’s condition.


The talkative nymph caught sight of him chasing frightened deer
into (his) nets, she who had not learnt to keep quiet for the speaker
nor to speak first herself, the reverberating Echo.
Echo was still a body (then), not (just) a voice; and yet,
(though) talkative, she had no other use of her mouth than she has now,5
(namely) that she could give back the very last words from many.
Therefore when she saw Narcissus roaming through the remote
countryside and grew warm, she followed his tracks secretly,
also the more she followed, (the more) she burned from the closer flame,
not unlike when lively sulphur smeared round the tips 10
of torches snatches flames which are brought near.
O how often she wanted to approach him with sweet words
and employ tender prayers. Her condition prevented (her)
and did not allow her to begin; but, what it did allow, she was ready for,
to wait for sounds to which she might send back her own words. 15


Exercise A1Exercise A2.1Exercise A2.2Matchcards



By chance the boy, separated from his faithful group of companions,
had said, ‘Is anyone here?’ and Echo had replied, ‘Here!’
He was astonished, and as he darted his gaze in all directions,
he called with a loud voice, ‘Come!’; she called to him calling.
He looked back and, again as no one came, he said, ‘Why 20
do you flee from me?’ and he got back as many words as he had said.
He persevered and, deceived by the illusion of another voice,
he said, ‘Let us get together here!’ and Echo, who would never make
a more willing reply to any sound, answered, ‘Let us get together’
and she backed up her words and, coming out of the wood, 25
she was advancing to throw her arms around the neck she hoped for.




Here the boy, tired by his enthusiasm for hunting and by the heat,
fell down attracted both by the appearance of the place and by the spring. 40
And while he wanted to quench his thirst, another thirst grew,
and while he drank, captivated by the image of the beauty he saw,
he loved a hope without a body, and thought it was a body what was a reflection.
He himself was astonished at himself and motionless with unchanging
expression he lingered, like a statue shaped from Parian marble. 45
Positioned on the ground he watched the double stars, his own eyes,
and hair worthy of Bacchus, worthy also of Apollo,
and his unbearded cheeks and ivory neck and the beauty
of his face and the blush mixed in the snow-white radiance,
and he admired everything, for which he himself was admired. 50
Unknowing he desired himself and he who approved was himself approved.
And while he sought, he was sought, and he equally inflamed and burned.
How often he gave futile kisses to the deceitful spring!
How often did he sink his arms in the middle of the waters, trying to catch
the neck he saw and yet did not seize himself in them! 55
He did not know what he saw, but he was inflamed by that which he saw
and the same error which deceived his eyes (also) encouraged (them).



59 ut (just as) – a double simile. Narcissus melting away (liquitur) is compared to wax (cerae) melted by a flame (igne levi) or frost (pruinae) melted by the sun (sole).


60-62 igne…igni – the relevance of the simile is reinforced by this repetition. The first fire (igne) is literal, the second (igni) is the metaphorical fire of love, which is destroying Narcissus.


64 vigor et vires (vigour and strength) – the tautology and alliteration emphasise the life that is being lost.


63-65 neque…nec…nec – the repetition (anaphora) of negatives highlights the diminishing power of Narcissus.


67 indoluit (she grieved) – the enjambment emphasises how pitiful Narcissus now is.


67 puer (boy) – Ovid exaggerates the young age of Narcissus (he is actually a iuvenis) for added pathos.

67-68 ‘eheu’ (‘Alas!) – the pity felt by Narcissus for himself is reiterated by Echo. Their exclamations are put at the end of successive lines, in direct speech, for emphasis.

As soon as he saw this again in the clear water,
he could not bear it any longer, but, just as honey-gold wax
is accustomed to melt with a gentle flame and the morning frosts 60
are accustomed to thaw in the warming sun, thus weakened by love
he melted away and was gradually consumed by a hidden fire;
and there was no longer colour to his rosy white complexion,
nor the energy and strength and the things which just now were seen and pleasing, nor did his body, which Echo had once loved, remain. 65
However when she saw this, although angry and unforgetting,
she grieved for him, and whenever the pitiable boy said , ‘alas!’,
she kept repeating ‘alas!’ with echoing sounds.
And whenever he struck his own arms with his hands
she also kept returning the same sound of grief. 70