Narcissus, be sure you resemble not
Nor into much pride find yourself not;
For an over-winning haughty knight
Of many a grace is void full right.
Narcissus was a young bachelor who, because of his great beauty, had such great pride that he shunned all others. And because he prized none but himself, it is said that he was so amorous and besotted with himself that he died, after he had gazed too long at himself in a well. From this we should understand that he was triumphant when he saw himself. Therefore the good knight should consider himself in his good deeds, where he has been victorious. And to this purpose says Socrates: Son, beware that you are not deceived in the beauty of your youth, for that is no durable thing.
Now let us set in allegory applying to our purpose the seven deadly sins. Narcissus was an example of the sin of pride, which the good spirit should avoid. And Origene says in the Omelies: How should a man be proud of himself when he thinks of where he came from and what he will become; and in how frail a vessel we exist nakedly in, and in what sins he has engaged in, and what unclean matters he never ceased to participate in? And to this purpose Holy Scriptures say:
Where-of is that earth and asschis pridith him, or how dare a man raise him in arrogance, when he thinks where-of he is coming and what he shall become; and in how frail a vessel we exist nakedly in, and in what harlotries he plunged, and what unclean matters he never ceased to cast from his flesh all the condites of his body? And to this purpose says Holy Scripture: Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever.1
- Christine’s original Latin: “Si ascenderit ad celum superbia eius, et caput eius nubes tetigerit, quasi sterquilinium in fine perdetur.” Job 20:6-7.