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In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, the Naiads or Naiades (Ναϊάδες from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 νάειν, "to flow," and νᾶμα, "running water") were a type of nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks.

They are distinct from river god
River God
River God is a novel by author Wilbur Smith. It tells the story of the talented eunuch slave Taita, his life in Egypt, the flight of Taita along with the Egyptian populace from the Hyksos invasion, and their eventual return. The novel can be grouped together with Wilbur Smith's other books on...

s, who embodied rivers, and the very ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes, ponds and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna
In classical Greece, Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. Its site near the village Mili at the Argolic Gulf is most famous as the lair of the Lernaean Hydra, the chthonic many-headed water snake, a creature of great antiquity...

 in the Argolid.

Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids
In Greek mythology, the Nereids are sea nymphs, the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris, sisters to Nerites. They often accompany Poseidon and can be friendly and helpful to sailors fighting perilous storms. They are particularly associated with the Aegean Sea, where they dwelt with their father...

 specifically with the Mediterranean, but because the Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa
Arethusa (mythology)
For other uses, see ArethusaArethusa means "the waterer". In Greek mythology, she was a nymph and daughter of Nereus , and later became a fountain on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily....

, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...



The essence of a naiad was bound to her spring, so if a naiad's body of water dried, she would die.

They were often the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Boys and girls at coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local naiad of the spring. In places like Lerna their waters' ritual cleansings were credited with magical medical properties. Animals were ritually drowned
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

 there. Oracles might be situated by ancient springs.

Naiads could be dangerous: Hylas
In Greek mythology, Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas of the Dryopians. Roman sources such as Ovid state that Hylas' father was Hercules and his mother was the nymph Melite, or that his mother was the wife of Theiodamas, whose adulterous affair with Heracles caused the war between him and her...

 of the Argo
In Greek mythology, the Argo was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcos to retrieve the Golden Fleece. It was named after its builder, Argus.-Legend:...

's crew was lost when he was taken by naiads fascinated by his beauty (see illustration). The naiads were also known to exhibit jealous tendencies. Theocritus
Theocritus , the creator of ancient Greek bucolic poetry, flourished in the 3rd century BC.-Life:Little is known of Theocritus beyond what can be inferred from his writings. We must, however, handle these with some caution, since some of the poems commonly attributed to him have little claim to...

's story of naiad jealousy was that of a shepherd, Daphnis
In Greek mythology, Daphnis was a son of Hermes and a Sicilian nymph. A shepherd and flautist, he was the inventor of pastoral poetry. A naiad fell in love with him, but he was not faithful to her. In revenge, she either blinded him or turned him to stone...

, who was the lover of Nomia
Nomia may refer to:*Nomia, Laconia in Greece*Nomia *Nomia, a genus of bees...

; Daphnis had on several occasions been unfaithful to Nomia and as revenge she permanently blinded him. Salmacis
In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon ."There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or...

 forced the youth Hermaphroditus
In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos was the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. He was a minor deity of bisexuality and effeminacy. According to Ovid, born a remarkably handsome boy, he was transformed into an androgynous being by union with the water nymph Salmacis...

 into a carnal embrace and, when he sought to get away, fused with him.

The Naiads were either daughters of Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 or various Oceanids, but a genealogy for such ancient, ageless creatures is easily overstated. The water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in the Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to Saints, and in the medieval Melusine
Melusine is a figure of European legends and folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down...


Walter Burkert points out, "When in the Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

[xx.4–9] Zeus calls the gods into assembly on Mount Olympus, it is not only the well-known Olympians
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

 who come along, but also all the nymphs and all the rivers; Okeanos
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

 alone remains at his station,", Greek hearers recognized this impossibility as the poet's hyperbole
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally....

, which proclaimed the universal power of Zeus over the ancient natural world: "the worship of these deities," Burkert confirms, "is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality."


Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

 offered a sociopolitical reading of the common myth-type in which a mythic king is credited with marrying a naiad and founding a city: it was the newly arrived Hellenes justifying their presence. The loves and rapes of Zeus, according to Graves' readings, record the supplanting of ancient local cults by Olympian ones (Graves 1955, passim).
So, in the back-story of the myth of Aristaeus
A minor god in Greek mythology, which we read largely through Athenian writers, Aristaeus or Aristaios , "ever close follower of the flocks", was the culture hero credited with the discovery of many useful arts, including bee-keeping; he was the son of Apollo and the huntress Cyrene...

, Hypseus, a king of the Lapiths, married Chlidanope, a naiad, who bore him Cyrene
Cyrene (mythology)
In Greek mythology, as recorded in Pindar's 9th Pythian ode, Cyrene was the daughter of Hypseus, King of the Lapiths. When a lion attacked her father's sheep, Cyrene wrestled with the lion. Apollo, who was present, immediately fell in love with her and kidnapped her. He took her to North...

. Aristaeus had more than ordinary mortal experience with the naiads: when his bees died in Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, he went to consult them. His aunt Arethusa invited him below the water's surface, where he was washed with water from a perpetual spring and given advice.

Types of Naiads

  • Crinaeae
    In Greek mythology, the Crinaeae were a type of Naiad nymphs associated with fountains or wells.The number of Crinaeae includes but is not limited to:# Aganippe# Appias...

  • Eleionomae
    The Eleionomae were marsh naiads in ancient Greek mythology. Aside from living in marshy environments, the Eleionomae often misled travelers with their illusions. The illusions constituted images of a traveler's loved ones. These nymphs also lured young, virgin boys and seduced them with their...

  • Limnades
    In Greek mythology, the Limnades / Leimenides were a type of Naiad. They lived in freshwater lakes. Their parents were river or lake gods.The number of Limnades includes but is not limited to:...

     or Limnatides (lakes)
  • Pegaeae
    In Greek mythology, the Pegaeae were a type of naiad that lived in springs. They were often considered daughters of the river gods , thus establishing a mythological relationship between a river itself and its springs....

  • Potameides (rivers)

Individual Naiads

  • Aba
    Aba (nymph)
    In Greek mythology, Aba was the Naiad nymph of the springs, wells or fountains in the town of Ergiske in Kikonia, Thrace. By Poseidon, she was the mother of the town's eponymous founder, Ergiskos.She is presumed to be a daughter of the river Hebros....

  • Abarbarea
    In classical Greek and Roman mythology, Abarbarea is a naiad, daughter of the river god Aesepus. She was the wife of Bucolion and had two sons by him, Aesepus and Pedasus. Abarbarea is also one of the three ancestors of the Tyrians, along with Callirrhoe and Drosera...

  • Aegina
    Aegina (mythology)
    Aegina was a figure of Greek mythology, the nymph of the island that bears her name, Aegina, lying in the Saronic Gulf between Attica and the Peloponnesos. The archaic Temple of Aphaea, the "Invisible Goddess", on the island was later subsumed by the cult of Athena...

  • Aegle
  • Aia
    Aia is a small village situated on the slopes of Mount Pagoeta in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, Spain. It is located 30 km to the west of Donostia-San Sebastián and about 10 km inland from the coastal town of Zarautz. Aia is set amongst rolling green hills and lush green forests, and...

  • Alcinoe
    Alcinoe is the name that is attributed to two women in Greek mythology:*Alcinoe, daughter of Polybus of Corinth and wife of Amphilochus, son of Dryas. She refused to pay the full wages to a weaver she had hired, and the woman prayed to Athena to avenge her. The goddess afflicted Alcinoe with a...

  • Alexirhoe
  • Anchinoe
  • Anchirhoe
  • Anippe
  • Annaed
  • Anthedon
    Anthedon may refer to:*Anthedon , possible father of Glaucus*Anthedon , ancient town near Gaza...

  • Arethusa
    Arethusa (mythology)
    For other uses, see ArethusaArethusa means "the waterer". In Greek mythology, she was a nymph and daughter of Nereus , and later became a fountain on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily....

  • Argyra
    Argyra is a genus of fly in the family Dolichopodidae.-Species:*Argyra abdominalis *Argyra albicans Loew, 1861*Argyra albicoxa Van Duzee, 1925*Argyra albiventris Loew, 1864*Argyra aldrichi Johnson, 1904...

  • Bateia
  • Bistonis
    Bistonis is the name of a nymph in Greek mythology who gave birth to a son of Ares, Tereus. Although she is mentioned in several surviving classical texts, she is the main subject of few or none...

  • Byzia (related to Byzantium
    Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

  • Caliadne
    Caliadne , in Greek mythology, is a naiad of the river Nile, presumably one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus. She is one of the wives of Aegyptus, bearing him twelve sons: Eurylochus, Phantes, Peristhenes, Hermus, Dryas, Potamon, Cisseus, Lixus, Imbrus, Bromios, Polyctor, and Chthonios...

  • Callirrhoe
    Callirrhoe (naiad)
    In Greek mythology, Callirrhoe was a naiad. She was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. She had three husbands, Chrysaor, Neilus and Poseidon. She was one of the three ancestors of the Tyrians, along with Abarbarea and Drosera...

  • Castalia
    Castalia , in Greek mythology, was a nymph whom Apollo transformed into a fountain at Delphi, at the base of Mount Parnassos, or at Mount Helicon. Castalia could inspire the genius of poetry to those who drank her waters or listened to their quiet sound; the sacred water was also used to clean the...

  • Charybdis
    Charybdis or Kharybdis was a sea monster, later rationalised as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard in the Strait of Messina.-The mythological background:...

  • Cleochareia
    In Greek mythology, Cleochareia was a naiad, a river nymph. She was married to King Lelex of Laconia. She is the ancestress of the Spartan royal family and gave birth to two children: Myles and Polycaon. Her son, Myles, had a son named Eurotas . Eurotas had a daughter named Sparta, who married...

  • Corycian nymphs
    • Corycia
      In Greek mythology, Corycia was a naiad who lived on Mount Parnassus in Phocis. Her father was the local river-god Kephisos or Pleistos of northern Boeotia. With Apollo, she became the mother of Lycoreus. Corycia was one of the nymphs of the springs of the Corycian Cave which was named after her...

    • Kleodora
      In Greek mythology, Kleodora was one of the prophetic Thriai, nymphs who divined the future by throwing stones or pebbles. She and her sisters lived on Mount Parnassus in Phocis and was loved by Poseidon. With Poseidon , she became the mother of Parnassus. Her father was the local river-god...

       (or Cleodora)
    • Melaina
      In Greek mythology, Melaina was a Corycian nymph, or member of the prophetic Thriae, of the springs of Delphi in Phocis, who was loved by Apollo bearing him Delphos. Her father was the local river-gods Kephisos, or Pleistos of northern Boeotia. Her name meant the black suggesting she presides over...

  • Creusa
    In Greek mythology, four people had the name Creusa ; the name simply means "princess".-Naiad:According to Pindar's 9th Pythian Ode, Creusa was a naiad and daughter of Gaia who bore Hypseus, King of the Lapiths to the river god Peneus. Hypseus had one daughter, Cyrene. When a lion attacked her...

  • Daphne
    Daphne was a female minor nature deity. Pursued by Apollo, she fled and was chased. Daphne begged the gods for help, who then transformed her into Laurel.-Overview:...

  • Diogeneia
    Diogeneia may refer to three women in Greek mythology and an ancient festival:* Daughter of Phorbas from Olenus in Achaea, wife of Alector and mother of Amarynceas* Daughter of Celeus of Eleusis* Daughter of Cephissus, wife of Phrasimus, mother of Praxithea...

  • Diopatre
  • Drosera
    Drosera (naiad)
    In Greek mythology, Drosera was a naiad. She was one of the three ancestors of the Tyrians, along with Callirrhoe and Abarbarea....

  • Echenais
  • Pegasis
  • Harpina
    In Greek mythology, Harpina was a Naiad nymph and daughter of Phliasian Asopus and of Metope. Pausanias and Diodorus Siculus mention Harpina and state that, according to the tradition of the Eleans and Phliasians, Ares mated with her in the city of Pisa and she bore him Oenomaus, the king of Pisa...

  • Ismenis
  • Langia
    Langia is a genus of moths in the Sphingidae family.-Species:* Langia zenzeroides Moore, 1872**Langia zenzeroides formosana...

  • Lara
  • Lethe
    In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos , the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness...

  • Lilaea
    In Greek mythology, Lilaea was a Naiad of a spring of the same name, daughter of the river god Cephissus.The town of Lilaea in Phocis and the asteroid 213 Lilaea are named after her....

  • Liriope
    Liriope (nymph)
    In Greek mythology, Liriope or Leiriope is a Boeotian naiad, who was probably the daughter of one of the Boeotian or Phocian river Gods. Liriope was loved by the river-god Cephissus, who was himself the son of Oceanus and Tethys, and bore his son Narcissus....

  • Melite
    Melite was one of the naiads, daughter of the river god Aegaeus, and one of the many loves of Zeus and his son Hercules. Given the choice, she chose Hercules over Zeus who went off in search of other pursuits...

  • Memphis
  • Metope
    "Metope" might refer to the following:*metope , the space between two triglyphs of a Doric frieze*Metope , a river nymph in Greek mythology*Metope , electronic music producer Michael Schwanen...

  • Minthe
    In Greek mythology, Minthe was a naiad associated with the river Cocytus. She was dazzled by Hades' golden chariot and was about to be seduced by him had not Queen Persephone intervened and metamorphosed Minthe into the pungently sweet-smelling mint, which some call hedyosmus...

  • Moria
    Moria may refer to:*Moria , a location in author J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy book, The Lord of the Rings*A type of euphoria sometimes caused by right hemisphere brain lesions*Moria, first wife of Ivan Asen I of Bulgaria...

  • Nana
  • Neaera
    Neaera, Neæra, or Neaira are different transliterations of an Ancient Greek name . They may refer to:-Characters in Ancient Greek mythology and history:* Neaira , a prostitute in the 4th century BC...

  • Nicaea
    Nicaea (mythology)
    In Greek mythology, Nicaea was a nymph , the daughter of the river-god Sangarius and Cybele. She was beloved by a shepherd, Hymnus, and killed him, but Eros took vengeance upon her, and Dionysus, who first intoxicated her, made her mother of Telete, whereupon she attempted to hang herself; yet she...

  • Nomia
    Nomia (mythology)
    In Greek mythology, Nomia was a naiad. The Nomian Mountains were named after her. She may have been the nymph who loved Daphnis. Naiads are the beautiful nymphs of fresh water . They are debatedly daughters of Zeus or closely related to Oceanids....

  • Orseis
    In Greek mythology, Orseis, was the water-nymph of a spring in Thessalia, Greece, and the mythical ancestor of the Greeks. It is uncertain whether she was believed to be the daughter of Oceanus or the river-god of Thessalia, Peneios. There is even a possibility that she was the daughter of Zeus...

  • Periboea
    In Greek mythology, nine people shared the name Periboea .#Periboea was the daughter of either King Cychreus of Salamis or of Alcathous, her mother in the latter case being either Pyrgo or Evaechme, daughter of Megareus. She married Telamon and became and mother of Ajax...

  • Pitane
    Pitane may refer to:* Pitane , an ancient coastal city of Aeolis, currently the site of Çandarlı, İzmir Province, Turkey* Pitane , a nymph* Pitane , mythological eponym of Pitane * Pitane , a moth genus...

  • Polyxo
    Polyxo is the name of several figures in Greek mythology:*One of the Hyades.*A Naiad of the river Nile, presumably one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus. She was one of the wives of Danaus and bore him twelve daughters: Autonoe, Theano, Electra, Cleopatra, Eurydice, Glaucippe, Anthelea,...

  • Praxithea
    - Wife of Erichthonius :Praxithea was a Naiad nymph. According to Apollodorus Praxithea married Erichthonius of Athens and by him had a son named Pandion I...

  • Salmacis
    In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon ."There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or...

  • Sparta
    Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

  • Strymo
  • Styx
  • Telphousa
  • Thronia
  • Tiasa
  • Zeuxippe
    In Greek mythology, Zeuxippe was the name of several women. The name means "she who yokes horses," from zeugos, "yoke of beasts" / "pair of horses," and hippos, "horse."...

See also

  • Camenae
    In Roman mythology, the Camenae were originally goddesses of childbirth, wells and fountains, and also prophetic deities.There were four Camenae:*Carmenta*Egeria*Antevorta, or Porrima...

  • Ethereal being
    Ethereal being
    Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the...

  • Lady of the Lake
    Lady of the Lake
    The Lady of the Lake is the name of several related characters who play parts in the Arthurian legend. These characters' roles include giving King Arthur his sword Excalibur, enchanting Merlin, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father...

  • Melusine
    Melusine is a figure of European legends and folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down...

  • Mermaid
    A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

  • Nix
    The Neck/Nixie are shapeshifting water spirits who usually appear in human form. The spirit has appeared in the myths and legends of all Germanic peoples in Europe....

  • Ondine
    Ondine (mythology)
    Undines , also called ondines, are elementals, enumerated as the water elementals in works of alchemy by Paracelsus. They also appear in European folklore as fairy-like creatures; the name may be used interchangeably with those of other water spirits. Undines are said to be able to gain a soul by...

  • Siren
    In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous mermaid like creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli...

External links