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Greek Nymphs

Tales beyond belief

Greek Nymphs
Discover fascinating information about the beautiful, supernatural, young maidens referred to as Nymphs who featured in ancient Greek mythology and legends. Greek
Nymphs were minor goddesses of nature. In ancient mythology the Greek nymphs inhabited forests, woods, trees, meadows and bodies of water including rivers and the sea.

Types of Greek Nymphs
There were many different types of Greek Nymphs, groups of young minor goddesses who were associated with various elements in nature, such as Sea Nymphs, celestial nymphs and those associated with individual gods:

  • The Naiades were the Greek nymphs of the fresh water, rivers and streams

  • The Nereids were the Greek nymphs of the sea

  • The Oceanides were the 3000 daughters of Oceanus and Tethys and the Greek nymphs of the water ways and clouds

    • The Hydriades were a group of Greek nymphs called Oceanide or water nymphs who protected various springs

    • The Ephydriades were the Oceanides of the fountains

    • The Nephelae were the Oceanides of clouds and rain

    • The Aurae were the Oceanides of breezes

  • The Sirens were the dangerous Greek nymphs of the sea who could lure men to their deaths who heard their singing

  • The Mermaids were the famous Greek nymphs of the sea with the head and torso of a human female and a fish-like tail. The Tritons were a race of sea gods and goddesses born from Triton, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Their lower half was that of a fish, while the top half a human - they are commonly known as mermen

  • The Oreads were the Greek nymphs of mountains and grottoes

  • The Dryads were the Greek nymphs of the Forest, Wood and groves

  • The Hamadryads were Greek Nymphs of the trees who were born bonded to a particular tree

  • The Anthousai were the beautiful spirits of flowers

  • The Alseides were the spirits of the groves

  • The Auloniades were the spirits of the pastures

  • The Leimonides were the spirits of meadows

  • The Melians were tree spirits who nurtured Zeus

  • The Napaeae were the spirits of the valleys

  • The Nysiades were the spirits who guarded Hermes

Greek Nymphs of the Water & Sea
The Greek nymphs of the water and sea were the Hydriades or Ephydriades. The names of the Greek Nymphs of the sea consisted of the Naiades, the Nereids, the Oceanides, the Mermaids. The most famous of all were the sea temptresses called the Sirens. The names of the Water and Sea Nymphs in ancient Greek mythology were:

  • The Naiades (fresh water, rivers and streams)

  • The Nereids - (sea)

  • The Oceanides  - (sea)

  • The Hydriades or Ephydriades (water)

  • The Mermaids had the head and upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish. Their counterparts were the Tritons who were merman

  • The Crinaeae (fountains)

  • Eleionomae (wetlands)

  • Limnades or Limnatides (lakes)

  • Pegaeae (springs)

  • Potameides (rivers)

The ocean and sea nymphs were the first to discover the goddess Aphrodite. The Mermaids, Oceanides, and Nereides all offered her pearls  as a tribute to her great beauty.

Greek Nymphs of the Trees and Forests
The Greek Nymphs of the Forest, Trees and Woods were called the Dryads. The Hamadryads were those born bonded to a particular tree. The names given to Hamadryads and their affinities to particular trees were:

  • Daphnaeae (Laurel tree)

  • Epimeliades (Apple tree)

  • Kissiae (Ivy)

  • Meliae (Ash tree)

  • Balanos (Oak)

  • Kraneia (Dogwood)

  • Morea (Mulberry)

  • Aigeiros (Poplar)

  • Ptelea (Elm)

The Greek Mountain Nymphs
The Oreads, or Greek mountain nymphs, were supposed to reside in the mountain solitudes, and guide weary travelers safely through their rocky mazes. There is a famous Greek myth about the Oreads.  A favorite of the Oreads, a musician called Marsyas, was killed by Apollo. As soon as the Oreads heard of their favorite’s sad death, they began to weep, and shed such torrents of tears, that they formed a new river, called the Marsyas, in memory of the musician. Another Greek  myth relates to the mountain nymph Echo (an Oread) who loved her own voice.

The Greek Meadow and Valley Nymphs
The valley nymphs, the Napaeae were believed to keep the valleys green and fruitful by their watchful care. The Anthousai were the Greek nymphs of flowers, the Alseides were the Greek nymphs of groves, the Auloniades were the Greek nymphs of pastures and the  Leimonides were the Greek spirits of the meadows.

Greek Constellation Nymphs - the Pleiads
There is another famous Greek myth about the Constellation Nymphs, the Pleiads. The Seven Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, served Artemis, the Greek goddess. These lovely, minor goddesses needed but to be seen to be passionately loved they were very coy. Orion sought to approach them but turned and fled. Orion pursued them and the prayed to Zeus for help. He turned the Pleiads into seven snow-white pigeons who flew into the sky. In a second transformation the Pleiades were changed into a constellation, composed of seven bright stars. The myth continues when the city of Troy fell into the enemy’s hands, all of the Pleiades turned pale with grief, and one, more impressionable than the rest, withdrew from sight to hide her anguish from the curious eyes of men.

Types of Greek Nymphs - the Lesser Goddesses
The following minor goddesses are also referred to as nymphs, although not directly connected with nature

  • The 9 Muses had wonderful gifts that allowed them to entertain the gods

  • The 3 Graces were the daughters of Aphrodite and minor goddesses who presided over the banquet and the dance

  • The Horae were also called 'the Seasons', the goddesses of time who guarded the gates to the home of the gods

  • The Pleiades were the seven sisters who were the celestial nymphs of the stars.

  • The Hyades were 7 half-sisters of the Pleiades and celestial Greek nymphs

  • The Hesperides were of the evening who guarded a beautiful garden

  • The Atlantides were a group who guarded the golden apples that Gaea gave as a wedding gift to Hera. The Atlantides was also another name given to the Pleiades and also to the Hesperides

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