Nymphs originate from the Greek mythology. Different from goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and tend to be depicted as beautiful, young, nubile maidens who love to dance and sing. They are believed to dwell in mountains and woodland groves, by springs and rivers, and in trees, valleys, and cool grottoes.
Although nymphs never die of old age or illness, they could give birth to a fully immortal child if they mated with a god, they themselves were not necessarily immortal, and could be beholden to death in various forms. Nymphs, always in the shape of young women, were part of the retinue of a god, such as Dionysus, Hermes, or Pan, or a goddess, generally the huntress Artemis, they were also a target of satyrs.
Types of nymphs
Nymphs are a broad category of nature spirits. Depending on their associated elements, they belong to different subtypes. It's also entirely possible for one nymph to be multiple subtypes. A Dryad who's tree grows in a river is also possibly a Naiad.
Forest nymphs had their own name depending on their particular tree. Below are some examples.
- Hamadryads, oak tree dryads who's life force was connected to their tree in even greater manner than of other dryads.
- Meliai, honey-nymphs from whom mankind descended. Their tree was the ash-tree.
- Oreads, dryads of mountain forests who's tree was mountain conifer.
Nymphs who were involved with water one way or another. Examples include:
- Aurai, nymphs of gentle breezes.
- Naiads, nymphs of rivers and springs.
- Nephelai, the nymphs of clouds and rain.
- Nereids, Poseidon's retinue of fifty sea nymphs.
Other types of nymphs exist that lack a defined category.
- Epimelids, nymphs of highland pastures, sometimes numbered among Oceanids and sometimes Dryads.
- Hesperides, three nymphs of evening who's garden was the source of golden apples.
- Lampads, underworld nymphs who were associated with Persephone and Hecate.
- Thyiads, also known as Maenads or Bacchantes, who were the frenzied and orgiastic retinue of Dionysus.