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Divinities of Waters and Landscapes

Nymph of a spring. 5709: Jacques-Laurent Agasse 1767-1849: La Fontaine personnifiée. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Genève.

  Aristaeus, the bee-keeper, learned the arts of healing and prophecy from the MUSES, who also gave him a bride, Autonoe 2, the daughter of Cadmus. He discovered the olive and the honey, competing with the latter against the wine of Dionysus 2, even though he joined this god in his Indian War. Yet Zeus, they say, gave the first prize to the wine. When his son Actaeon died Aristaeus, out of grief, migrated to Sardinia. Aristaeus was son of Apollo and of Cyrene, one of the NYMPHS. His children by Autonoe 2 were Actaeon, Macris, Charmus, and Callicarpus. It is said that after dwelling some time near Mount Haemus in Thrace he never was seen again by men and received immortal honours. Aristaeus, who was a seer, was instructed by the Centaur Chiron (Apd.3.4.4; Arg.2.500ff., 4.1131; Cic.ND.3.45; Dio.4.81.1-3, 4.82.6.; Hes.The.977; Nonn.5.215, 13.253ff., 13.298; Pau.10.17.3; Vir.Geo.4.318).

Britomartis (Aphaea, Dictynna, Laphria). Britomartis was the daughter of Zeus and Carme, daughter of Eubulus, son of Carmanor and Demeter. Some say that she was born at a place called Caeno in Crete, but others have called her nymph of Gortyn. Britomartis was an excellent runner and delighted in hunting with her arch, as she passed her time in the company of Artemis. But Minos 2, some say, having fallen in love with her, pursued her for nine months trying to ravish her. She first hid herself under oaks and in low meadows; but when Minos 2 was close to catch her she threw herself from the top of a cliff, falling into the nets of fishermen that saved her. After this, some say, she was made a goddess by Artemis and was worshipped both in Crete and in Aegina. According to others Britomartis' mother Carme was the daughter of Phoenix 1 (brother of Europa) and Cassiopea 3, daughter of Arabius. They also say that Britomartis started her life in Phoenicia, and that having come to Argos, she was received in this city by the daughters of the river god Erasinus: Byze, Melite 3, Maera 5, and Anchiroe 2. From Argos, they say, she went to Cephallenia, the island in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Acarnania, where she was surnamed Laphria and regarded as a goddess. From Cephallenia she came to Crete, where Minos 2 pursued her; and it is because she found refuge under the nets of fishermen that the Cretans called her Dictynna (Goddess of Nets). Having thus escaped Minos 2 she came to Aegina navigating with the boat of the fisherman Andromedes 1, who also attempted to rape her. But Britomartis threw herself into the sea, disappearing in the grove where her sanctuary was built. There are those who deny that Minos 2 ever attacked Britomartis, saying also that it was she who invented the nets which are used in hunting (Cal.Ar.190; Dio.5.76.3; Eur.Hipp.149; Lib.Met.40; Pau.2.30.3; Stat.Theb.9.632).

DRYADS. NYMPHS of the Oak.

EPIMELIADS. NYMPHS protecting the sheep.

Glaucus 7 had once been a mortal fisherman (although some call him son of Nereus and Doris 1, the parents of the NEREIDS), but after chewing a plant became a sea-deity. He later fell in love with Scylla 1, who refused him. Glaucus 7 had a daughter Deiphobe who became priestess of Apollo and Artemis (see Scylla 1). (Eur.Ore.362; Nonn.13.75; Ov.Met.13.898ff.; Pau.9.22.7; Vir.Aen.6.36).



HELEADS. NYMPHS of the fen.


Juturna. Daughter of King Daunus of Apulia (southern Italy) and Venilia (counted among the NYMPHS). It is said that Juturna became a goddess of lakes and rivers in return for the maidenhood Zeus ravished (Vir.Aen.10.76, 10.616, 12.138ff., 12.879).

Leucothoea was once a mortal woman but now lives in the depths of the sea and is called Leucothea, after having cast herself into the sea. This was the result of the plot she conceived against the children of her husband's first wife, when she attempted to arrange their death. These, however, could escape to Colchis borne through the sky by the Ram with the Golden Fleece. Ino was daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia 1. She married Athamas 1 and had by him two sons: Learchus and Melicertes (see Athamas 1). It was Ino, as Leucothea, who saved the shipwrecked Odysseus (see Nausicaa). (Apd.1.9.1-2, 3.4.2; Cic.ND.3.39, 3.48; Hes.The.976; Hom.Od.5.333; Hyg.Fab.4, 224; Nonn.5.198; Pau.9.5.2; Pin.Oly.2.30; Pin.Pyth.11.2; Stat.Theb.1.14).

NEREIDS. Sea-deities, daughters of Nereus and Doris 1.


MELIADS. NYMPHS of the Ash-trees.


Nereus. The god who can turn himself into all kinds of shapes and who dwells in the Aegean Sea. He is the son of Pontus (Sea) and Gaia. Nereus married Doris 1 (one of the OCEANIDS) fathering the NEREIDS and Glaucus 7, who loved Scylla 1 (see also NEREIDS and Theogony). (Apd.1.2.6-7, 2.5.11; Arg.4.772; Eur.Ore.362; Hes.The.233).

NYMPHS. Female spirits of nature, who though living many years are nevertheless bound to die. There are Oreads (Mountain Nymphs), Dryads (Nymphs of the Oak), Hamadryads (Tree-Nymphs), Naiads (Water Nymphs), Hydriads (Water Nymphs), Meliads (Nymphs of the Ash-trees), Heleads (Nymphs of the Fen), Epimeliads (Nymphs, protectors of sheep).

OCEANIDS. Sea-deities. Daughters of Oceanus & Tethys.


Palaemon 3. Sea-deity. The name of Melicertes after being deified. Melicertes was son of Athamas 1 and Ino. Zeus, after having given birth to Dionysus 2 (whom he had kept in his thigh), entrusted him to Hermes, who conveyed the little god to Ino and Athamas 1, persuading them to rear him as a girl. Yet Hera, who out of jealousy pursued Dionysus 2, drove the adoptive parents mad. So Athamas 1, being out of his mind, hunted his elder son Learchus as a deer and killed him, while Ino killed Melicertes. She first threw him into a boiling cauldron and then, carrying it with the dead child, she cast herself into the sea. He became then a new god, Palaemon 3, and his mother was called Leucothoe 3 or Leucothea. This is how Melicertes and his mother were made immortal. Others have said that he was laid in the cauldron by his father (Apd.1.9.1-2, 3.4.3; Hyg.Fab.224; Nonn.9.56, 10.68; Ov.Fast.6.485ff.; Ov.Met.4.542).

Pan. God of woods and pastures.



PANS. Spirits of woods and pastures. Horned rockdwellers, children of Pan, who came to join Dionysus 2 in his Indian campaign. Agreus 2 and Nomius 2 are also PANS but they are children of Hermes (Nonn.14.67ff.).

Pomona flourished under the reign of Proca and was a Latian Wood-Nymph who was skilled in garden-culture and the care of fruit-trees. She was seduced by Vertumnus, who had assumed the shape of an old woman (see also NYMPHS). (Ov.Met.14.623, 14.770).

Proteus 2. Old man of the sea.

RIVER GODS. The god of each river. Collectively said to be the offspring of Oceanus and Tethys.

SATYRS. Spirits of forests and mountains.

SILENS. Spirits of forests and mountains. The oldest among the SATYRS; they are a mortal race. They formed a phalanx in the army of Dionysus 2 (see also Silenus). (Hom.Aph.5.262; Nonn.13.45; Pau.1.23.5, 6.24.8).


SIRENS. Malevolent sea-monsters.

Silvanus. God of fields and cattle (Ov.Met.14.639; Stat.Theb.4.111; Vir.Aen.8.602; Vir.Geo.2.493).

8106: A triton with a dolphin and two fish. Roman about AD 200. British Museum, London.

Triton. Hybrid sea creature. Son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. His body, from the crown of his head, round his back and waist as far as the belly, was wondrously like that of the gods; but below his sides the tail of a sea-monster lengthened far, forking to this side and that. And he smote the surface of the waves with the spines, which below parted into curving fins, like the horns of the new moon. He assisted the ARGONAUTS and on another occasion blew his shell-trumpet, which he had invented, against the GIANTS putting them to flight. When Athena was born she was brought up by Triton. Triton is called father of Triteia and Pallas 3 (Apd.3.12.3; Arg.4.1601ff.; Hes.The.930; Hyg.Ast.2.23; Pau.7.22.8).

mur046: Tritons. Alexander S. Murray, Manual of Mythology (1898).

TRITONS. Hybrid sea creatures; their body is rough with fine scales, and they have gills and a man's nose, though having a broader mouth and a beast's teeth. Under the breast and belly they have a tail like a dolphin's instead of feet. Or else they have limbs of two kinds, a human shape and a different body, green, from loins to head, but hanging from the trailing wet loins a curving fishtail, forked (Nonn.6.270, 6.294; Pau.9.21.1).

Vertumnus. Italian deity remembered for his shape-shifting power and his seduction of Pomona.

Related sections Divinities, Major Divinities, PERSONIFICATIONS, PERSONIFICATIONS, Other Deities, Immortals, BESTIARY  

See above.