Nymphs by Association
 - the well-known (and more obscure) groups of Nymphs:
Throne of Gold, by Richard Hescox


The Dryades were the Nymphs of the Forest, or wood nymphs. Dryades were immortal, unlike other types, like the Hamadryades, who lived in oak trees and would die when the tree they lived in died. They were the hunting companions of Artemis. The painting at left is by Richard Hescox.


Epimeliades were the Protectors of Sheep. So I suppose you could call them Sheep Nymphs.


A Hamadryad was a nymph of an oak tree. She was very connected to the tree in which she lived, and very powerful if angered. If her tree was hurt, then the hamadryad was hurt. If her tree was cut down, then the hamadryad also died. It was a hamadryad who began the whole story of the Golden Fleece by punishing the son of a man who'd thrown a knife into her tree.

The Heliades

The Heliades were the sisters of Phaeton (son of Apollo). Well, when Phaeton died on that fateful chariot ride, they wept uncontrollably for four months. After that the gods took pity on them and turned the maidens into poplar trees and changed their tears to amber.
The Hespirides
The Hespirides were the nymphs who guarded the Tree of the Golden Apples, as is shown in the painting at right by Edward Burne-Jones. Their father was Hesperos, or the God of the Evening Star. Their names were:


These daughters of Atlas and Pleione were also the sisters of Hyas, who died. They mourned for him so much that the Gods hung them as stars in the Sky.
Lamusidean Nymphs
Lamusidean Nymphs were the daughters of Lamus. They were the nurses of Dionysus, but because of Hera's deep jealousy they were driven mad. They would have chopped the baby Dionysus up, and not Hermes appeared on the scene just in time to save the baby God.
These dryades lived in fruit trees - were fruit trees ... ah, this is getting too confusing. Moving on.
These dryades were the Nymphs of Ash Trees. They were the daughters of Gaia and of Uranus' blood. For some reason they are special, but I have not yet figured out why.
The Naiades were the nymphs of freshwater streams rivers and lakes, but were not limited to these water courses. Many Naiades could be found prancing around with Artemis, who chose 20 Naiades from Amnisus for companions. They were the daughters of rivergods. They had extremely long lifetimes, but they were not considered immortal, and were believed to have sat in on the Gods discussions on Olympus. There were 5 types of Naiades:
bulletPegaiai, the Nymphs of Springs
bulletKrinaia, the Nymphs of Fountains
bulletPotameides, the Nymphs of Rivers and Streams
bulletLimnades or Limnatides, the Nymphs of Lakes
bulletEleionomai, the Nymphs of Marshes

On the left is a detail from John W. Waterhouse's painting of Hylas and the Nymphs. That particular story is important to the Greeks as Hylas, the beautiful beloved (yes, in the sexual way) of Heracles, was sent to go get water on the island of Mysia, and the naiads there, totally taken in by his beauty, carried him off. Every year, the priests marched to a neighboring mountain and called Hylas's name three times. Someone will have to tell me if they still do this.

The Napaea were the Nymphs of the Valley. In Greek nape means dell.
The Nereides were the 50 daughters of Nereus (the Sea) and Doris. The were the Nymphs of the Sea, and on the right is how one artist supposed them. One of them was Amphitrite. The stories say that it was when they went and performed a dance on the island of Naxos that Poseidon decided to claim Amphitrite as his bride. There is a list of the Nereides being formed here.
There were 3000 Oceanides, and they were all the Nymphs of the Ocean. Their mother was the Titaness Tethys and their father the Titan Oceanus.
Oreades were the Nymphs of the Mountains.

The Dance of the Pleiades

The Pleiades
There were seven Pleiades, and you can find them when you look in the sky (they are stars). Their names were:
bulletMaia, "Mother" "Nurse"
bulletAlcyone, "Queen who wards off evil [storms]"
bulletElectra, "Amber" "Shining" "Bright"
bulletCelŠno, "Swarthy"
bulletTaygeta, "Long-necked"
bulletSterope or Asterope, "Lightening" "Twinkling" "Sun-face"
bulletMerope "Eloquent" "Mortal" "Bee-eater"

They were the daughters of Pleione (an Oceanid) and Atlas. Pleione means "sailing queen" and so her daughters would be the "sailing ones", but the root could also be peleiades which means a flock of doves and fits perfectly. They waited on Artemis with their half-sisters the Hyades and with them were called the Atalantides, Dodonides, and Nysiades. They were pursued by Orion for seven years, and got away only when Zeus granted their prayers and changed them into doves. The picture on the right is an engraving by F. E. Fillebrown. If you want to know more about the individual Pleiades, there is more on some of them below.

Nymphs by Name - the nymphs interesting enough to say something about:

Acantha was another beautiful nymph with the misfortune to be loved by someone she didn't love back. Apollo was the culprit in this case. He "loved" the nymph so much he tried to rape her. The nymph fought back, scratching the Sun God's face. As a result, the little nymph was transformed into the acanthus tree, a "sun-loving" but thorny plant.
She was the nurse, in Crete, who took care of Zeus and hung his cradle from a tree so that he wasn't in the sea, the earth, or Heaven.
This was the daughter of Asopus, a river god, and Metope (she had TONS of siblings). She was abducted by Zeus, as it every nymph eventually is, it seems, and carried off to the island of Attica (which was renamed after her for a period). There she had a son, Aeacus, and he became the monarch of the island. To make love to her, Zeus changed into a flame of fire. Later, she became a lover of Actor's and had three children by him.
Arethusa was one of the many water nymphs who attended Artemis. As one of the Virgin Goddesses followers, she had no interest in men. So when the river-god Alpheus pursued her, Artemis helped her out by turning her into a fountain. Alpheus, however, would not be denied, and changed himself to flow underground so that he could touch her.
Agamede was the mother of Actor by Poseidon. She was one of the first to use herbs in healing.
In a Hymn to Artemis, Britomartis is described as the nymph Artemis loves best. She is the fawn-slaying, sharpshooting nymph of Gortyn here, but originally she was a Cretan goddess who was adopted by the Artemis cult. Anyway, the story goes that Minos, madly in love with her, chased her all over Crete. She hid in oaks and marshes, but couldn't shake him. Nine months he chased her without relenting until at last he cornered her on a cliff. She leapt off, and was caught by a fishing net and was called, from then on the Lady of the Net.


I started off liking her, but now I just think that she's a bore. She was the daughter of Atlas. She is in the story of Odysseus. She takes a fancy to him, and keeps him prisoner for seven years, during which time they sleep together, although Odysseus remains loyal to Penelope (which I don't understand), and eventually Zeus orders her to set him free. She is also in the Minor Goddesses section, because she was a goddess as well as a nymph.
This poor nymph got turned into a turtle because she refused to attend the wedding of Hera and Zeus. The gods condemned her to eternal silence because of her insulting words.
Clymene was but a simple Oceanid, but for a simple Oceanid, she had a lot going on. She was the wife of the Titan Iapetus, and by him bore Atlas, Epimetheus, Prometheus, and Menoetius. In another version, she was the wife of Helios and the mother of Phaeton (who is generally accepted as Apollo's offspring, but oh well). In yet another version she was the mother of Atalanta. Some other sources say that she was the granddaughter of King Minos of Crete and mother of Palamedes. Her name means Famous Might, which is an interesting name for a Oceanid. She's interesting.
Also known as Clytia, this Oceanid was the beloved of Apollo. Well, she was until he got tired of her. Then he dropped her and broke her heart. She was changed into a sunflower with her face to the sun. There is a longer (and better, if I do say so myself) story about her coming in the Myth section. So stay tuned.

Bernini's Daphne and Apollo

Daphne was the unfortunate Naiad pursued by Apollo. Apollo wouldn't leave her alone, despite her obvious aversion to him. She ran to her father, a river god, and begged for help. Her father did the only thing he could do and transformed her. Just as Apollo would have caught her Daphne grew bark and transformed into a laurel tree. But the God still wouldn't let her be and plucked some of her branches and made them into a wreath, saying she would be his sacred tree. Poor kid.
detail from Echo and Narcissus, by John Waterhouse


Echo is probably the most famous of all the nymphs. Her name and her voice live on to this day. She was the nymph who had a fling with Zeus and lost her voice when she tried to protect her lover from Hera's vengeance. Then she fell in love with Narcissus. If you are interested in the story, check out the long (and good) version in the Myth Pages.
Galatea, the Nereid


Galatea was a Nereid loved by the Cyclop Polyphemus (you know, the stupid one from the Odyssey). This could be bad enough on its own, but matters were complicated because she loved a human named Acis. Acis was murdered by Polyphemus and then one of three things happened. Either she threw herself into the ocean and drowned (odd, being a Nereid), wept so much she was turned into a always-flowing fountain, or accepted Polyphemus and had a child named Galates by him.
Lethe was another Naiad, but her river was in the Underworld. The Lethe was the river of Forgetfulness and Oblivion. Lethe was a daughter of Eris.


Maia, who was sort of a Goddess, has more written about her in the Minor Goddesses section. But, to make a long story short, she slept with Zeus and bore the Messenger God Hermes. She was also one of the Pleiades.
Nephele was a nymph who was the first wife of Athamas, King of Orchomenus. He dropped her for this human chica, Ino. She was very bitter and complained to Hera, after which this whole drama ensued. She was the mother of Phrixes and Helle, who she had to protect from Ino, their stepmother.
Called Oenone in Latin, this Naiad was the daughter of the rivergod Kebren. She was a Phrigian nymph who lived during the Trojan War. Now, there are two stories. She was abducted by Paris (yes, you DEFINTELY should know who Paris is) and became his first wife. Later, when he died, she hung herself. Apollodorus, however, says she married Alexandros and bore his son, Corythus. She had learned to prophesy from Rhea, and tried to convince her husband that he would be mortally wounded in Troy, but only she would be able to heal him. He ignored her, and was indeed mortally wounded. Oinone was pissed, and had no interest in helping him. Upon her summoning she refused to heal him, but later changed her mind and hurried to Troy. By the time she got there it was too late and so she threw herself on his funeral pyre. Either way, she kills herself.
Orphne was a nymph who lived in the Underworld. But though she chilled with Persephone, her hubby (Acheron, the ferry-man of the Dead) worked above ground (sort of).
Pallas, according to Apollodorus, was the childhood playmate of Athena. She was a Naiad, the daughter of the rivergod Triton, and both she and Athena were raised to love to fight. One time when they were dueling, Zeus mischievously held up the aegis. Pallas looked away for only a moment, but that was enough, and she fell and died. Athena was distraught, and made a wooden statue of her friend placing the aegis on its breast.

Poseidon's Daughter, by Richard HescoxRhodus

Rhodus was a nymph who was a daughter of Poseidon. I believe she was also called Rhode. She was the mother of the Heliadae with Helios. The island she lived on was named after her: Rhodes. Eventually the island became the home of the Pillars of Heracles and a certain very cool person named Ramsi.
Rhodope was a nymph from Thrace whose intelligence-impaired-if-enthusiastic husband compared himself and Rhodope to Zeus and Hera. I think this stupidity must have been based from the fact that he was the son of the King of Thrace (the husband's name was Haemus). Anyway, the gods were not having that, so they changed the couple into a mountain range with the same names. Rhodope into the mountain range now called Despoto, and her husband into the Balkan mountain range.
The River Styx


Styx was a Naiad. Her name meant literally Hateful. This may have been because her river was the one that all of the dead must pass. Her river was the most holy and sacred, and to swear on it was the most holy oath a God could make. There is more to say about her, but you will have to wait for more of the Myth Pages to come out. The painting on the right is called Crossing the Styx.


Syrinx is the nymph who was pursued by Pan who, to escape him, begged the gods to save her. They took pity and turned her into reeds. Pan, following Apollo's lead, cut some of the reeds in different sizes and made a set of pipes, called the pan pipes from then on.

Thetis was the chief Nereid for a long time, and it was she who found the baby Hephaestos and nursed him back to health after he was thrown from Olympus (if you don't get it, check out the Myth Pages). Zeus wanted her for his lover, but she rejected him (good for her!). Then, the Goddess Themis prophesied that she would bear a son mightier than his father. Hearing that, Zeus stopped being horny and started being scared, and immediately decreed that she could only marry a mortal. She did, and ended up becoming wife to Peleus, and mother of Achilles. As his mother, she tried to make him invincible. There are two versions of what she did, and why she missed his heel.

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