In Greek mythology, naiads were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of fresh water. Their existence is due to the Greeks having observed that fresh water behaves differently to salt water.
Mircea Eliade – Patterns in Comparative religion
The most famous nymphs are the sisters of Thetis, the Nereids or, as Hesiod still called them, the Oceanides, the perfect Neptunian nymphs. Most of the others are divinities of springs. But they also dwell in caves where there is water. The 'nymphs' cave' became a common-place in Hellenistic literature, and the most literary, that is profane, formula, .....The nymphs, once personified, entered into men's lives. They were divinities of birth (water = fertility) and kourotrophoi; they brought children up, and taught them to become heroes. Nearly all the Greek heroes were brought up either by nymphs or by centaurs – that is, by superhuman beings who shared in nature's powers and could direct them.
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