Nymphs are mythological nature spirits that appear as beautiful young women.
In Greek and Roman mythologies, nymphs are minor female deities, guardian spirits of nature, often depicted as lovers of gods and heroes, or as their mothers.
There are many different classes of nymphs common throughout the Greek and Roman traditions, though the Greeks more highly developed their characters and their individual habitats.
Although generally conceived of as benevolent, the Nymphs seductive magnetism was to be feared, because they had the power to drive men crazy, especially around midday. They had a sensual, sexual aura shared by none of the Olympian goddesses, except Aphrodite.
Nymphs appear in many if not quite all of the Greek myths. The various classes and habitats of Greek nymphs were:
Dryades, Hamadryades, and Meliae: trees.
Naiades: fresh water.
Nereides: the Mediterranean.
Oceanides: the ocean.
Other groups of nymphs did not have specific habitats. These include the Hesperides, the guardians of the golden apples of Hera; and the Hyades and Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas.
Nymphs frolic with satyrs, particularly in representations of Dionysus and Apollo, who, according to the myth, are the leaders of nymphs. Poseidon liked to surprise nymphs with monsters, and concocted the octopus, the blowfish, and the seapolyp for their entertainment.
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Sources: (1) Cooper, J.C. (Editor), Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend, Cassell Academic Publishing; (2) Evans, Bergen, Dictionary of Mythology, Dell Publishing Co., Inc.; (3) Dixon-Kennedy, Mike, Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology, ABC-Clio Inc. Publishers; (4) Ayto, John, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Collins Reference Publishing.
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