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On this page: Nyctimene – Nymphae



army the territory of Sicyon: but he was de­ feated ; and being severely wounded, he was car­ ried back to Thebes, where, previous to his death, he appointed his brother Lycus guardian of Lab­ dacus, and at the same time demanded of him as a duty to take vengeance on Epopeus. But the latter died before Lycus could fulfil his promise. (Paus. ii. 6. § 2 ; Hygin. Fab. 7, 8.) When Labdacus had grown up, Lycus surrendered the government to him; but as Labdacus died soon after, Lycus again became the guardian of his son, Laius, but was expelled by his own great-nephews, Amphion and Zethus. (Paus. ix. 5. § 2 ; Eurip. Here. Fur. 27.) A very different account is found in Apollodorus (iii. 5. § 5), for according to it, ^Nycteus and Lycus were the sons of Chthonius, and were obliged to quit their country on account of the murder of Phlegyas. They then settled at Hyria; but Lycus was chosen commander by the Thebans, and usurped the government which be­ longed to Laius, and in which he maintained him­ self for twenty years, until he was slain by Am- phion and Zethus. Nycteus made away with himself in despair, because his daughter, who was with child by Zeus, fled to Epopeus at Sicyon ; but before he died, he commissioned Lycus to take vengeance on Epopeus. Lycus promised, and kept his word, for he slew Epopeus, and kept Antiope as his prisoner. According to Hyginus (Fab. 157), Nycteus and Lycus were the sons o/ Poseidon and Celaeno. (Volcker, Mytlid. des Japet. Geschlechts, p. 116.) [L. S.]

NYCTIMENE, a daughter of Epopeus, king of Lesbos, or, according to others, of Nycteus. Pur­ sued and dishonoured by her amorous father, she concealed herself in the shade of forests, where she was metamorphosed by Athena into an owl. (Hygin. Fab. 204 ; Ov. Met. ii. 590; Lutat. ad Stat. Tlieb. iii. 507; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. i. 403.) [L. S.]

NYMPHAE (Nu^at), the name of a numerous class of inferior female divinities, though they are designated by the title of Olympian, are called to the meetings of the gods in Olympus, and de­scribed as the daughters of Zeus. But they were believed to dwell on earth in groves, on the summits of mountains, in rivers, streams, glens, and grottoes. (Horn. Od. vi. 123, &c., xii. 318, //. xx. 8, xxiv. 615.) Homer further describes them as presiding over game, accompanying Artemis, dancing with her, weaving in their grottoes purple garments, and kindly watching over the fate of mortals. (Od. vi. 105, ix. 154, xiii. 107, 356, xvii. 243, II. vi. 420, xxiv. 616.) Men offer up sacrifices either to them alone, or in conjunction with other gods, such as Hermes. (Od. xiii. 350, xvii. 211, 240, xiv. 435.) From the places which they inhabit, they are called dypovo/jLoi (Od. vi. 105), opeffTiades (II. vi. 420), and vn'idSes (Od. xiii. 104).

All nymphs, whose number is almost infinite, may be divided into two great classes. The first class embraces those who must be regarded as a kind of inferior divinities, recognised in the worship of nature. The early Greeks saw in all the pheno­mena of ordinary nature some manifestation of the deity; springs, rivers, grottoes, trees, and moun­tains, all seemed to them fraught with life ; and all were only the visible embodiments of so many divine agents. The salutary and beneficent powers of nature were thus personified, and regarded as so many divinities ; and the sensations produced on


mian in the contemplation of nature, such as awe, terror, joy, delight, were ascribed to the agency of the various divinities of nature.~ The second class of nymphs are personifications of tribes, races, and states, such as Gyrene, and many others.

The nymphs of the first class must again be sub­divided into various species, according to the diffe­rent parts of nature of which they are the repre­sentatives. 1. Nymphs oftJie watery element. Here we first mention the nymphs of the ocean, 'n/cecw?-voli or '-Q/ceayiSes, vv/jt-fyat a\ieu,'who are regarded as the daughters of, Oceanus (Hes. Theog. 346, &c., 364 ; Aeschyl. Prom. ; Callim. Hymn, in Dian. 13; Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1414; Soph. PJdloct. 1470); and next the nymphs of the Mediterranean or inner sea, who are regarded as the daughters of Nereus, whence they are called Nereides (Nripz'iSes; Hes. Theog. 240, &c.). The rivers were repre­sented by the Potameides (riora^i'Ses), who, as local divinities, were named after their rivers, as Acheloides, Anigrides, Ismenides, Amnisiades, Pactolides. (Apollon. Rhod. iii. 1219 ; Virg. Aen. viii. 70; Paus. v. 5. §6, i. 31. § 2; Callim. Hymn, in Dian. 15 ; Ov. Met. vi. 16 ; Steph. Byz. s. v. 'A/AVKTos.) But the nymphs of fresh water, whether of rivers, lakes, brooks, or wells, are also designated by the general name Naiades, NTj'/'Ses-, though they have in addition their specific names, as Kpyvaiai, n^cucu, 'EAezoj/J/xot, At/zvcm'Ses, or AifjLvddes. (Horn. Od. xvii. 240 ; Apollon. Rhod. iii. 1219 ; Theocrit. v. 17 ; Orph. Hymn. 50. 6, Argon. 644.) Even the rivers of the lower regions are described as having their nymphs; hence, Nymphae infernae paludis and Avernales. (Ov. Met. v. 540, Fast. ii. 610.) Many of these pre­sided over waters or springs .which were believed to inspire those that drank of them, and hence the nymphs themselves were thought to be endowed with prophetic or oracular power, and to inspire men with the same, and to confer upon them the gift of poetry. (Paus. iv. 27. § 2, ix. 3. § 5, 34. § 3 ; Plut. Aristid. 11 ; Theocrit. vii. 92 ; comp. musae.) Inspired soothsayers or priests are there­fore sometimes called vv^uXfi-nrot. (Plat. Pliaedr. p. 421, e.) Their powers, however, vary with those of the springs over Avhich they preside ; some were thus regarded as having the power of restor­ing sick persons to health'(Pind. Ol. xii. 26 ; Paus. v. 5. § 6, vi. 22. § 4) ; and as water is necessary to feed all vegetation as well as all living beings, the water nymphs (fcfynaSes) were also worshipped along with Dionysus and Demeter as giving life and -blessings to all created beings, and this attri­bute is expressed by a variety of epithets, such as Kap7roTp6<poi) atTToAtKcu, po,iuc«, Kovporpoty.ot, &c. As their influence was thus exercised in all depart­ments of nature, they frequently appear in connec­tion with higher divinities, as, for example, with Apollo, the prophetic god and the protector of herds and flocks (Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1218) ; with Artemis, the huntress and the protectress of game, for she herself was originally an Arcadian nymph (Apollon. Rhod. i. 1225, iii. 881 ; Paus. iii. 10. § 8) ; with Hermes, the fructifying god of flocks (Horn. Hymn, in Aphrod. 262) ; with Dionysus (Orph. Hymn. 52 ; Horut. Carm. i. 1. 31, ii. J9. 3) ; with Pan, the Seileni and Satyrs, whom they join in their Bacchic revels and dances.

2. Nymphs of mountains and grottoes, are called 'OpoSefAViades and 'OpetoSes1, but sometimes also by names derived from the particular mountains

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