Keightley, Thomas - Nymphs and Nereides
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Thomas Keightley - The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People
The Grecian mythology, like its kindred systems, abounded in personifications. Modified by scenery so beautiful, rich and various as Hellas presented, it in general assigned the supposed intelligences who presided over the various parts of external nature more pleasing attributes than they elsewhere enjoyed. They were mostly conceived to be of the female sex and were denominated Nymphs, a word originally signifying a new married woman.
Whether it be owing to soil, climate, or to an original disposition of mind and its organ, the Greeks have above all other people possessed a perception of beauty of form, and a fondness for representing it.
The Nymphs of various kinds were therefore always presented to the imagination in the perfection of female youth and beauty. Under the various appellations of Oreades, Dryades, Naides, Limniades, Nereides, they dwelt in mountains, trees, springs, lakes, the sea, where in caverns and grottoes, they passed a life whose occupations resembled those of females of human race.
The wood nymphs were the companions and attendants of the huntress goddess Artemis; the sea nymphs averted shipwreck from pious navigators; and the spring and river nymphs poured forth fruitfulness on the earth. All of them were honoured with prayer and sacrifice; and all of them occasionally 'mingled in love' with favoured mortals. In the Homeric poems, the most ancient portion of Grecian literature, we meet the various classes of nymphs. In the Odyssey, they are the attendants of Calypso, herself a goddess and a nymph. Of the female attendants of Circe, the potent daughters of Helios, also designated as a goddess and a nymph, it is said
They spring from fountains and from sacred groves
And holy streams that flow in to the sea
and that the nymphs
Dwell in beauteous groves, and springs of streams and
verdant grassy shades