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The Oreads

Tales beyond belief

Oreads
Discover fascinating information about the beautiful, supernatural sea nymphs referred to as Oreads who were believed by the ancient Greeks to inhabit the oceans and featured in the legends and mythology of Ancient Greece. Oreads were minor goddesses of nature, specifically the mountains, grottoes, rocky precipices and ravines.

Each of the Oreads were related to specific mountains or natural elements and named accordingly such as the Idaeae who were from Mount Ida and the Peliades from Mount Pelion.

Definition of the Oreads, the Mountain Nymphs
Who were the Oreads of Ancient Greek mythology? The meaning and definition of Oreads are as follows: Definition of Oreads: The Oreads (aka Orodemniades and Oreiades) were minor goddesses and nymphs. According to Greek mythology they were the nymphs of mountains, hills, rocky slopes and grottoes and were often called by names derived from the particular mountains that they inhabited. The Oreads were the patrons of travelers, who they helped through dangerous mountain passes and hills. Like all nymphs, the Oreades had the gift of prophecy and divination and the Oreads were closely associated with the ancient Greek oracles.

Information about the Oreads
According to the ancient Greek Mythology every mountain, valley, plain, lake, river, grove, and sea was provided with a minor god or goddess, whose special duty was assigned by the powerful gods of Olympus. These included the Oreades, or mountain nymphs, who were believed to linger in the mountain solitudes, and guide weary travelers safely through their rocky mazes. They resided in grottoes which were garden like mountain caves and were also found in coves where mountain rivers and streams fell into the sea. The beautiful mountain Oreads were considered to be strong nymphs who were tougher and tetchier than the woodland and tree nymphs. The Oreades were immortals, unlike the  tree nymphs who were believed to perish when the tree they inhabited died.

The Oreads - Keepers of Jewels and Gems
The roles of the beautiful but tough Oreads were similar to that of the supernatural beings called dwarves in other cultures. They were the keepers of the gems and jewels that could be found in their mountains and caves. The Oreades were associated with raw diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. They gave these raw, precious stones to the gods and these were cut and added to the finely wrought gold crafted by the Greek god Hephaestus.

The Oreads and the Goddess Artemis
Artemis (Roman Diana) was the Goddess of the hunt and displayed a preference for hunting in hilly regions. The Oreads were believed to join Artemis, forming part of her retinue, to hunt deer and other small animals, chase wild boar and bring down birds of prey with their bows and arrows. The Dryades were famous Oreads. They were also associated with Dionysus (Roman Bacchus) with whom they frolicked in the woody hills where many lived.

Names of the Groups of Oreads
In Greek mythology the Oreads were the patrons of a particular mountain, hill, cave, grotto or ravine. Many were called by names derived from the mountains that they inhabited.

  • The Idaeae were the names of the Oreads, the mountain nymphs who inhabited Mount Ida
  • The Peliades were the names of the Oreads, the mountain nymphs who inhabited Mount Pelion
  • The Nomia were the names of the Oreads, the mountain nymphs who inhabited Mount Nomia
  • The Othreis were the names of the Oreads, the mountain nymphs who inhabited Mount Othrys
  • The Cithaeronides were the names of the Oreads, the mountain nymphs who inhabited Mount Calathion

Names of Famous Oreads in Greek Mythology
The names of the most famous Oreads, the Mountain nymphs, mentioned in Greek Mythology are detailed in the following list:

  • Britomartis: She was an Oread of Mount Dikte, also called Diktynna, who invented hunting nets
  • Eidothea: She was an Oread of Mount Othreis who was loved by the god Poseidon and whose son was turned into a beetle
  • Echo: She was an Oread nymph of Mount Helikon, a handmaiden of the goddess Hera who was cursed to only repeat the words of others
  • Chelone was an Oread nymph who ignored the summons to attend the wedding of Zeus and Hera and as punishment was transformed into a tortoise
  • Claia: She was an Oread nymph who had a cavern shrine on Mount Calathion
  • Cynosura: She was a nymph on Mount Ida who nursed Zeus
  • Nomia: She was an Oread of Mount Nomia who fell in love with a handsome shepherd named Daphnis
  • Othreis: She was an Oread of Mount Othrys in Malis who was loved by the gods Apollon and Zeus, the mother of Meliteus and Phager
  • Pitys: She was an Oread nymph loved by Pan. She fled his advances and was transformed into a pine-tree
  • Penelopeia: She was an Oread of Mount Cyllene in southern Greece, the mother of the god Pan by Hermes
  • Sinoe: She was an Oread nymph of Mount Sinoe and the teacher of Pan.
    Sose: She was an Oread nymph and prophetess loved by the god Hermes. She bore him one of the Panes.
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