In Greek mythology, the Nereids (/ˈnɪəriɪdz/ NEER-ee-idz; Ancient Greek: Νηρηΐδες, romanizedNērēḯdes; sg. Νηρηΐς, Nērēḯs, also Νημερτές) are sea nymphs (female spirits of sea waters), the 50 daughters of the 'Old Man of the Sea' Nereus and the Oceanid Doris, sisters to their brother Nerites.[1] They often accompany Poseidon, the god of the sea, and can be friendly and helpful to sailors (such as the Argonauts in their search for the Golden Fleece).

Nereid half reclining on the back of a seahorse, fresco from Pompeii
The Nereid Monument. From Xanthos (Lycia), modern-day Antalya Province, Turkey. 390–380 BC. Room 17, the British Museum, London

EtymologyEdit

The synonyms Νηρηΐδες and Νημερτές are etymologically unrelated. Νηρηΐδες is a patronymic, describing them as the daughters of Nereus. Νημερτές means literally 'not-mistaking', and there is an adjective of the same form meaning 'clear', 'unmistakable', or 'true'.

MythologyEdit

The Nereids symbolized everything that is beautiful and kind about the sea. Their melodious voices sang as they danced around their father. They are represented as beautiful women, crowned with branches of red coral and dressed in white silk robes trimmed with gold.

These nymphs are particularly associated with the Aegean Sea, where they dwelt with their father Nereus in the depths within a golden palace.[2] The most notable of them are Thetis, wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles; Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon and mother of Triton; Galatea, the vain love interest of the Cyclops Polyphemus, and lastly, Psamathe who became the mother of Phocus by King Aeacus of Aegina, and Theoclymenus and Theonoe by Proteus, a sea-god or king of Egypt.

In Homer's Iliad XVIII, when Thetis cries out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for the slain Patroclus, her sisters appear.[3] Four of her siblings, Cymodoce, Thalia, Nesaea and Spio were also among the nymphs in the train of Cyrene.[4] Later on, these four together with their other sisters Thetis, Melite and Panopea, were able to help the hero Aeneas and his crew during a storm.[5]

In one account, Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereides, who were enraged by the claim. Poseidon, in sympathy for them, sent a flood and a sea monster to the land of the Ethiopians, demanding as well the sacrifice of the princess.[6] These sea goddesses also were said to reveal to men the mysteries of Dionysus and Persephone.[7][8]

NamesEdit

 
French Empire mantel clock (1822) depicting the nereid Galatea velificans

This list is correlated from four sources: Homer's Iliad,[9] Hesiod's Theogony,[10] the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus[11] and the Fabulae of Hyginus.[12] Because of this, the total number of names goes beyond fifty.[13]

List of Nereids
No. Name Sources Notes
Hom. Hes. Apol. Hyg. Others
1Actaea
2 Agaue Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
3 Amatheia Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
4Amphinome Feeds Poseidon's flock
5 Amphithoe Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
6 Amphitrite The name of an Oceanid[14]
7Apseudes
8 Arethusa [15]
9 Asia [16] The name of an Oceanid[17]
10 Autonoe Only mentioned by name
11 Beroe The name of an Oceanid[18]
12 Callianassa Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
13 Callianeira Only mentioned by name on the Iliad.
14 Calypso The name of an Oceanid[19]
15 Ceto The name of an Oceanid[20]Only mentioned by name
16 Clio The name of an Oceanid[21]
17 Clymene [22] The name of an Oceanid;[23] appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
18 Cranto
19 Creneis
20 Cydippe [24] In the train of Cyrene along with her other sisters
21 Cymatolege Only mentioned by name
22 Cymo Only mentioned by name
23 Cymodoce [25]
24 Cymothoe [26] Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
25 Deiopea [16]
26 Dero Only mentioned by name
27 Dexamene Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
28 Dione The name of an Oceanid[27]
29 Doris The name of an Oceanid[28]
30 Doto [29]
31 Drymo [30] One of the nymphs in the train of Cyrene
32 Dynamene
33 Eione Only mentioned by name
34 Ephyra [16] The name of an Oceanid[31]
35 Erato
36 Euagore
37 Euarne
38 Eucrante
39 Eudore The name of an Oceanid[32]
40 Eulimene
41 Eumolpe Only mentioned by name
42 Eunice
43 Eupompe Only mentioned by name
44 Eurydice
45 Galene
46 Galatea [29]
47 Glauce
48 Glauconome Only mentioned by name
49 Halie
50 Halimede
51 Hipponoe
52 Hippothoe Only mentioned by name
53 Iaera Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
54 Ianassa Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
55 Ianeira The name of an Oceanid;[33] appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
56 Ione
57 Iphianassa [34] Only mentioned by name
58 Laomedeia Only mentioned by name
59 Leiagore Only mentioned by name
60 Leucothoe
61 Ligea [30]
62 Limnoreia
63 Lycorias [35]
64 Lysianassa
65 Maera Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
66 Melite [36] The name of an Oceanid[37]
67 Menippe The name of an Oceanid[38]
68 Nausithoe
69 Nemertes
70 Neomeris
71 Nesaea [39]
72 Neso Only mentioned by name
73 Opis [40]
74 Oreithyia Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
75 Panope [29]
76 Panopea [36]
77 Pasithea Only mentioned by name
78 Pherusa Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for his slain friend Patroclus.
79 Phyllodoce [30]
80 Plexaure The name of an Oceanid[41]
81 Ploto Only mentioned by name
82 Polynoe
83 Polynome Only mentioned by name
84 Pontomedusa Only mentioned by name
85 Pontoporeia Only mentioned by name
86 Pronoe Only mentioned by name
87 Proto
88 Protomedeia Only mentioned by name
89 Psamathe
90 Sao Means 'the rescuer'; only mentioned by name
91 Speio [39] Appeared to Thetis when she cried out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles at the slaying of his friend Patroclus.
92 Thaleia [39]
93 Themisto Only mentioned by name
94 Thetis [36]
95 Thoe The name of an Oceanid[42]
96 Xantho [30] The name of an Oceanid[43]
Total 34 50 45 47

IconographyEdit

 
Nereid riding a sea-bull (latter 2nd century BC)

In ancient art the Nereides appear in the retinue of Poseidon, Amphitrite, Thetis and other sea-divinities. On black-figure Greek vases they appear fully clothed, such as on a Corinthian hydra (sixth century BCE; Paris) where they stand near the bier of Achilles. Later vase-paintings depict them nude or partially nude, mounted on dolphins, sea-horses or other marine creatures, and often grouped together with Tritons. They appear as such on Roman frescoes and sarcophagi. An Etruscan bronze cista from Palestrina depicts winged Nereides.

Famous is the Nereid Monument, a marble tomb from Xanthos (Lycia, Asia Minor), partially in the collection of the British Museum. At the top is a small temple surrounded by pillars between which Nereides stood. They were depicted in motion and with billowing, transparent clothes. The style is Attic-Ionian and dates to ca. 400 BCE.

In the Renaissance and baroque periods the Nereid was frequently used to decorate fountains and garden monuments.

WorshipEdit

Nereides were worshiped in several parts of Greece, but more especially in sea-port towns, such as Cardamyle,[44] and on the Isthmus of Corinth.[45] The epithets given them by the poets refer partly to their beauty and partly to their place of abode.

Modern useEdit

In modern Greek folklore, the term "nereid" (νεράιδα, neráida) has come to be used for all nymphs, fairies, or mermaids, not merely nymphs of the sea.[46]

Nereid, a moon of the planet Neptune, is named after the Nereids, as is Nereid Lake in Antarctica.[47]

See alsoEdit

  • Neraida (type of supernatural wife)

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Aelian, De Natura Animalium 14.28
  2. ^ Atsma, Aaron J. "Nereides". Theoi Project Greek Mythology. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ Homer, Iliad 18.39-51
  4. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.338
  5. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 5.825-826
  6. ^ Apollodorus, 2.4.3; Hyginus, Fabulae 64, De Astronomica 2.10 with Euripides and Sophocles as the authority; Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.16 ff.
  7. ^ Orphic Hymns 24.10
  8. ^ Kerényi, Carl (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 66.
  9. ^ Homer, Iliad 18.39-51
  10. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 240-262
  11. ^ Apollodorus, 1.2.7
  12. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface
  13. ^ Apollodorus, 1.2.2 & 1.4.5
  14. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.346
  15. ^ a b c Virgil, Georgics 4.343
  16. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361; Apollodorus, 1.2.2
  17. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.341; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41.153
  18. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361; Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 418–423
  19. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 26.355
  20. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.341
  21. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.345
  22. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361; Hyginus, Fabulae 156; Tzetzes, Chiliades 4.19.359
  23. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.339
  24. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.338; Aeneid 5.826; Statius, Silvae 2.2.20
  25. ^ Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.605; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 5.394 ff.
  26. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361
  27. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361; Apollodorus, 1.2.2
  28. ^ a b c Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1.130 ff.
  29. ^ a b c d Virgil, Georgics 4.336
  30. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 275.6; Eumelus, fr. 1 Fowler (apud Pausanias, 2.1.1)
  31. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361
  32. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361; Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 418–423
  33. ^ Lucian, Dialogi Marini 14
  34. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.339
  35. ^ a b c Virgil, Aeneid 5.825
  36. ^ Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 418–423; Hyginus, Fabulae Th. 8
  37. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Th. 6 (Smith and Trzaskoma, p. 95), except where otherwise indicated.
  38. ^ a b c Virgil, Georgics 4.338; Aeneid 5.826
  39. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.343
  40. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 353
  41. ^ Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 418–423
  42. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 349–361
  43. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.2.5
  44. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 2.1.7
  45. ^ Zervas, Theodore G. (2016). Formal and Informal Education During the Rise of Greek Nationalism: Learning to be Greek. Springer. p. 121. ISBN 9781137484154.
  46. ^ Nereid Lake. SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica

ReferencesEdit

  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

External linksEdit