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MITOLOGY DICTIONARY(N)

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Naiads
The Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water and were one of the three main classes of water nymphs - the others being the Nereids (nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea) and the Oceanids (nymphs of the oceans). The Naiads presided over rivers, streams, brooks, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and marshes. They were divided into various subclasses: Crinaeae (fountains), Pegaeae (springs), Eleionomae (marshes), Potameides (rivers), and Limnades or Limnatides (lakes). Roman sources even assigned custody of the rivers of Hades to Naiads classified as Nymphae Infernae Paludis or the Avernales. The Naiad was intimately connected to her body of water and her very existence seems to have depended on it. If a stream dried up, its Naiad expired. The waters over which Naiads presided were thought to be endowed with inspirational, medicinal, or prophetic powers. Thus the Naiads were frequently worshipped by the ancient Greeks in association with divinities of fertility and growth. The genealogy of the Naiads varies according to geographic region and literary source. Naiads were either daughters of Zeus, daughters of various river gods, or simply part of the vast family of the Titan Oceanus. Like all the nymphs, the Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the ancient world and played the part of both the seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular seems to have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind. The Naiads fell in love with and actively pursued mortals as well. Classical literature abounds with the stories of their love affairs with gods and men and with the tales of their resulting children. Stories of the Naiads could take the form of cautionary tales with unhappy endings. The Naiad, Nomia, fell in love with a handsome shepherd named Daphnis and could not do enough for him. He repaid her love with unfaithfulness and she repaid his inconstancy by blinding him. The Naiads of a spring in Bithynia took a liking to Hylas (companion of Heracles) and lured him into their waters. The cautionary element is uncertain here. The fate of Hylas could have been either an abrupt death by drowning or everlasting sexual bliss. Other stories of the Naiads were explanations of the origins of immortals and mortals. The sun god Helios mated with the Naiad Aegle (renowned as the most beautiful of the Naiads) to produce the Charites. Melite, a Naiad of the Aegaeus River in Corcyra, had a liaison with Heracles and became the mother of Hyllus. Naiads were the lovers of Endymion, Erichthonius, Magnes, Lelex, Oebalus, Otrynteus, Icarius, and Thyestes and were therefore co-founders of important families. Greek towns and cities were called after the names of Naiads. Lilaea, in Phocis, was named for Lilaea, the Naiad of the Cephissus River. There is a reference in Homer's Odyssey to a cave, rather than a body of water, that is sacred to the Naiads. It might be assumed, therefore, that this cave in Ithaca may have contained a spring or have been the source of a stream or brook

Napaeae
In Greek myth, the nymphs of (mountain) valleys.

Narcissus
Narcissus is another example among several of a beautiful young man who spurned sex and died as a result. As such, his myth has much in common with those of Adonis and Hippolytus. In the Roman poet Ovid's retelling of the myth, Narcissus is the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Tiresias, the seer, told his parents that the child "would live to an old age if it did not look at itself." Many nymphs and girls fell in love with him but he rejected them. One of these nymphs, Echo, was so distraught over this rejection that she withdrew into a lonely spot and faded until all that was left was a plaintive whisper. The goddess Nemesis heard the rejected girls prayers for vengeance and arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection. He stayed watching his reflection and let himself die. It is quite possible, however, that the connection between Echo and Narcissus was entirely Ovid's own invention, for there is no earlier witness to it. An important and earlier variation of this tale originates in the region in Greek known as Boeotia (to the north and west of Athens). Narcissus lived in the city of Thespiae. A young man, Ameinias, was in love with Narcissus, but he rejected Ameinias' love. He grew tired of Ameinias' affections and sent him a present of a sword. Ameinias killed himself with the sword in front of Narcissus' door and as he died, he called curses upon Narcissus. One day Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a spring and, in desperation, killed himself. Both of these stories give an origin to the narcissus flower, which grew where Narcissus died.

Nauplius
1. The son of Poseidon and Amymone. He is the legendary founder of Nauplia (Nafplion), a harbor city at the Bay of Argolis. 2. The king of Euboea, father of Palamedes. When his son was killed by the Greeks at Troy, he avenged himself by lighting bonfires on the clips of his island, thus misleading the Greeks when they sailed home. Many of the ships shipwrecked and were lost.

Nausithous
The son of Poseidon and Periboea. He was the king of the Phaeacians and settled with his people on Scheria, where later his son Alcinous ruled.

Neaera
A Greek nymph, by Helios the mother of Lampetia and Phaetusa.

Nectar
The drink of the Greek gods which, like their food Ambrosia, conferred immortality. It was prepared with honey.

Neleus

The son of Poseidon and Tyro. He was the twin brother of Pelias and contested with him for the crown. Neleus moved to Messenia and became king of Pylos. When Heracles visited him with the request of cleansing him from a blood-debt, Neleus refused. Heracles destroyed Pylos, and killed Neleus with all his sons, except for Nestor.

Nemesis
In Greek mythology, Nemesis is the goddess of divine justice and vengeance. Her anger is directed toward human transgression of the natural, right order of things and of the arrogance causing it. Nemesis pursues the insolent and the wicked with inflexible vengeance. Her cult probably originated from Smyrna. She is regarded as the daughter of Oceanus or Zeus, but according to Hesiod she is a child of Erebus and Nyx. She is portrayed as serious looking woman with in her left hand a whip, a rein, a sword, or a pair of scales. In the Hellenistic period she was portrayed with a steering wheel. Also called Rhamnusia, from a temple and statue of her in Rhamnus, a village in the northern part of Attica. The epithet Adastreia, "she whom none can escape", properly of the those of the Phrygian Cybele, was later applied to her.

Nephele
A nymph, the first wife of Athamas, and mother of Phrixus and Helle. When she was driven away by her husband, she protected her children against the threats of their stepmother Ino. Nereids The Nereids are the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris who dwell in the Mediterranean Sea. These beautiful women were always friendly and helpful towards sailors fighting perilous storms. They are believed to be able to prophesize. They belong to the retinue of Poseidon. In ancient art, particularly on black-figured Greek vases the Nereids were portrayed fully clothed, such as on a Corinthian vase (6th century BC) where they stand around Achilles' deathbed, dressed in mourning-garbs. In later art they were portrayed naked or partially naked, riding on dolphins, seahorses, and other marine creatures.


Nereus

Nereus is the righteous and all-wise "old man of the sea", god of the Mediterranean Sea, son of Gaia and Pontus. His wife is Doris and she became by him the mother of the fifty Nereids, friendly sea-nymps. Nereus is a gentle and very wise old man who has the power to foretell the future, but he will not answer questions unless he was caught and to avoid that he would change his shape (such as when Heracles came to ask him the way to the Garden of the Hesperides). The domain of Nereus and his fifty daughters is especially he Aegean Sea where he has saved many ships from destruction.

Nestor
The son of Neleus, king of Pylos, and Chloris. He was the only one who was spared when Heracles slew his father and his brothers. Nestor helped fight the centaurs, participated in the hunt for the Calydonian boar and was one of the Argonauts. When he was already of advanced age, he still participated in the expedition against Troy, where he, as oldest of the Greek heroes, excelled in wisdom, eloquence, and bravery.

Nike

Nike is the Greek personification of victory. She can run and fly at great speed. She is a constant companion of Athena. Nike is the daughter of Pallas and Styx and the sister of Cratos, Bia, and Zelus. She was represented as a woman with wings, dressed in a billowing robe with a wreath or staff.

Nilus
Graeco-Roman personified god of the river Nile. In Egyptian he was called Hapi.

Niobe
Niobe is one of the more tragic figures in Greek myth. She was the daughter of Tantalus and either Euryanassa, Eurythemista, Clytia, or Dione (no one seems to know for sure) and had two brothers, Broteas and Pelops. Niobe was the queen of Thebes (the principle city in Boetia), married to Amphion, King of Thebes. Niobe and Amphion had fourteen children (the Niobids), and in a moment of arrogance, Niobe bragged about her seven sons and seven daughters at a ceremony in honor of Leto, the daughter of the titans Coeus and Phoebe. She mocked Leto, who only had two children, Apollo, god of prophecy and music, and Artemis, virgin goddess of the wild. Leto did not take the insult lightly, and in retaliation, sent Apollo and Artemis to earth to slaughter all of Niobe's children. Apollo killed the seven sons while they practiced their athletics. The last son begged to be spared, but the arrow had already left Apollo's bow, and the boy was struck dead. Artemis killed the seven daughters with her lethal arrows. (Some versions have a few of the children being spared.) At the sight of his dead sons, Amphion either committed suicide or was also killed by Apollo for wanting to avenge his children's deaths. In any event, Niobe's entire family was dead in a matter of minutes. In shock, she cradled the youngest daughter in her arms, then fled to Mt. Siplyon in Asia Minor. There she turned to stone and from the rock formed a stream (the Achelous) from her ceaseless tears. She became the symbol of eternal mourning. Niobe's children were left unburied for nine days because Zeus had turned all of the people of Thebes into stone. Only on the tenth day did the gods have pity and entomb her children. Niobe is weeping even to this day. Carved on a rock cliff on Mt Sipylus is the fading image of a female that the Greeks claim is Niobe (it was probably Cybele, the great mother-goddess of Asia Minor originally). Composed of porous limestone, the stone appears to weep as the water after a rain seeps through it This myth vividly illustrates the vicious nature of the gods. Often, the gods would strike deadly revenge on mortals merely for acting on human weaknesses. Leto had Niobe's entire family killed because of an arrogant comment. This theme of deadly revenge is common in myths of Artemis and Apollo. For example, Artemis turns Actaeon into a stag which his hunting dogs devour because he accidentally saw her naked after a bath. Apollo is as equally unforgiving. He took lethal action against the mortal Marsyas after Marsyas challenged Apollo to a contest of music and lost. Apollo skinned him alive. Clearly, the myth of Niobe demonstrates the wrath of both Apollo and Artemis and is a warning to mortals not to compare themselves to the gods

Niobids
The fourteen children 1 of Niobe and king Amphion. These children, seven strong sons and seven beautiful daughters, had pay with their lives for their mother's recklessness.

Notus
The god of the South Wind, which is a very warm and moist wind. He is the son of Eos and Astraeus. The Romans called him Auster.

Nymphs

In Greek mythology, nymphs are spirits of nature. They are minor female deities and the protectors of springs, mountains, and rivers. Nymphs are represented as young, pretty girls. Each subtype presides over a certain aspect of nature. Depending of their habitat, there are: Dryads (forests), Naiads (springs and rivers), Nereid (the Mediterranean), Oceanids (the sea) and Oreads (mountains), Limoniads (meadows), Limniads (lakes, marshes and swamps) and Napaea (valleys). They were worshipped in a nymphaeum, a monumental fountain which was raised in the vicinity of a well. The male counterpart of a nymph is the satyr.

Nyx
Nyx is the goddess and embodiment of the night. According to Hesiod in his Theogony (11.116-138), "From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night Nyx; of Night were born Aether being the bright upper atmosphere and Day Hemera, whom she conceived and bore from union with Erebus her brother". Also from the Theogony (11. 211-225); "And Night borehateful Doom Moros and black Fate and Death Thanatos, and she bore Sleep Hypnos and the tribe of Dreams. And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bore the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates who were regarded as old women occupied in spinning, Clotho the Spinner of the thread of life and Lachesis the Disposer of Lots, she who allots every man his destiny and Atropos She Who Cannot Be Turned, who finally cuts the thread of life who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods, and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bore Nemesis Indignation to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit Apate and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife. From that great work we find that Nyx produced a host of offspring. Other sources give Charon who ferried the dead over the rivers of the infernal region as being the son of Erebus and Nyx, although according to the Theogony he was born from Chaos. Also according to Aristophanes, Birds 693 ff, "in the infinite bosom of Erebus, Night with black wings first produced an egg without a seed. From it, in the course of the seasons, Eros was born--the desired, whose back sparkled with golden wings, Eros like swift whirlwinds".


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