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
In Greek myth, the nymphs of (mountain) valleys.
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.
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
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.
A Greek nymph, by Helios the mother of Lampetia and
The drink of the Greek gods which, like their food
Ambrosia, conferred immortality. It was prepared with
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
Graeco-Roman personified god of the river Nile. In
Egyptian he was called Hapi.
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
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
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.
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 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".