Definition of Sea Nymphs
Who were the Sea Nymphs of Ancient Greek mythology? The meaning and definition of Sea Nymphs are as follows: Definition of Sea Nymphs: The ancient Greek Sea Nymphs were minor goddesses, water nymphs, who were the daughters of Oceanus or Nereus. The names of the sea nymphs were the Naiades, the Nereids, the Oceanides and the most famous of all were the sea nymphs known as the Sirens and the Mermaids.
Names of the Sea Nymphs
The names of the Sea Nymphs were:
- The Nereids
- The Oceanides
- The Mermaids had the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish. Their counterparts were the Tritons who were merman
- The Sirens
Sea Nymphs - the Sirens
The Sirens were five sea nymphs (part woman and part bird) and the daughters of the river god Achelous and Malpomene, the muse of tragedy. The Sirens were believed to lure sailors to destruction on the rocks where the nymphs lived. In ancient Greek mythology in Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus is warned by Circe that he will pass the island inhabited by the Sirens. Circe tells him to plug his men's ears with wax so they can not hear the sirens songs and to have them tie him tightly to the mast so he may listen if he wants to experience their seductive songs. Odysseus orders his crew to plug their ears so they would not hear the Siren's fatal song (Refer to the Myth of Odysseus and the Sirens). The voices of the Sirens were "golden-sweet above the sound of wind and wave, like drops of amber floating on the tide." According to Greek mythology the Sirens were companions of young Persephone and were given wings by the goddess Demeter to search for Persephone when she was abducted.
Sea Nymphs - the Nereids
The Nereids were the nymphs of the sea who had in their care the rich bounty of the sea. The Nereids were the 50 daughters of Nereus, the god of the Mediterranean Sea and his wife Doris. Nereus was a son of the ancient, primordial deity called Pontus. His wife Doris was an Oceanide, a sea nymph in Greek mythology, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. The Nereids were the patrons of sailors and fishermen, who came to the aid of men in distress. A sea nymph called Thetis was the unofficial leader of the Nereids and the mother of Achilles. One of the Nereids, Amphitrite, was the wife of Poseidon and the Nereids were attendants and members of the retinue of Poseidon. The Nereides were often depicted in ancient art running with small dolphins or fish in their hands or else riding on the back of dolphins or the Hippocamps (the horses of the sea).
Water Nymphs - the Oceanides
The Oceanides were the nymphs of the water-ways and the three thousand daughters and the ancient Titan gods Oceanus and Tethys. According to Greek mythology sixty of the younger Oceanides were attendants of Artemis and formed part of her retinue. The ancient Greeks considered the 'world-ocean' to be an enormous river encircling the world. The Oceanides called the Hydriades or Ephydriades (water nymphs) were therefore believed to be the nymphs all the rivers of the world, fountains, and lakes.
Sea Nymphs - the Mermaids
Mermaids were supernatural beings who lived beneath the sea but would occasionally come ashore. The mermaids were believed to be the 3000 daughters of Triton, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Their 3000 brothers were called the Tritons, or Mermen. Tritons were described as having green hair and eyes, their bodies were like those of men, but instead of legs they had tails like fishes. Mermaids were described as being very beautiful with long, flowing hair, sad fathomless eyes and possessed fins and a spreading tail. Mermaids were believed to sing to sailors and enchant them, distracting them from their work and causing them to walk off the deck or run their ships aground. Mermaids were believed to inhabit salt-water environments including lagoons, rather than freshwater lakes or streams.