Nymphs were minor female nature deities typically associated with a particular location or landform.
Nymphs were minor female nature deities typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from goddesses, nymphs were generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing; their amorous freedom sets them apart from the restricted and chaste wives and daughters of the Greek polis. They dwelled in mountains and groves, by springs and rivers, and in trees and in valleys and cool grottoes. Although they would never die of old age nor illness, and could give birth to fully immortal children if mated to a god, they themselves were not necessarily immortal, and could be beholden to death in various forms. Charybdis and Scylla were once nymphs.
Other nymphs, always in the shape of young maidens, were part of the retinue of a god, such as Dionysus (the Maenads), Hermes, or Pan, or a goddess, generally the huntress Artemis. Nymphs were frequent targets of satyrs. Many Cyclopes were the result of Poseidon courting a nymph.
Types of Nymphs
Plant and wood nymphs
- Hecaterides (rustic dance) - sisters of the Dactyls, mothers of the Oreads and the Satyrs
- Kabeirides - sisters of the Kabeiroi
- Maenads or Bacchai or Bacchantes - frenzied nymphs in the retinue of Dionysus
- Lenai (wine-press)
- Mimallones (music)
- Naides (Naiads)
- Thyiai or Thyiades (thyrsus bearers)
- Melissae (honey bees), likely a subgroup of Oreades or Epimelides
- The Muses (memory, knowledge, art)
- Themeides - daughters of Zeus and Themis, prophets and keepers of certain divine artifacts