Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents - The Mythological Nymphs

Ques. Who were the Nymphs?

Ans. They were graceful young women who attended on Diana and the greater goddesses. Some, also, had charge of certain fountains and rivers, and were called Na´iades; the nymphs of Ocean were Nere´ides and Ocean´ides. The Ore´ades were mountain nymphs, and others presided over groves and even single trees.

Ques. What were the woodland nymphs called?

Ans. Those who watched over the forests, and always lived among the trees, were called Dry´ades, from a Greek word which means an oak; the Hamadry´ades were so called because they were attached, each to some particular oak. The Hamadryad was born with the tree, flourished and died with it. This belief lingered for a long time amid the German forests, as also the superstition about water spirits.

Ques. What was the story of Arethusa?

Ans. This nymph was the daughter of Ocean´us, and an attendant of Diana. She was admired by the god of the river Alphe´us, but refused to listen to his addresses. As she fled from his presence, he pursued. The terrified nymph had sped through all Arcadia; the shades of evening were gathering, and Alphe´us pressed close upon her fainting steps. In this extremity, Arethusa prayed to Diana for relief, and was immediately dissolved into a fountain. Alphe´us resumed his watery form, and sought to mingle his current with hers, but Diana opened for her a passage under the sea, and she rose in the island of Ortygia, in Sicily, still followed by the stream of the Alphe´us. In proof of this fable, and of the Grecian origin of this famous fount, it was asserted that a cup which fell into the river Alphe´us in Greece, rose in the fountain of Arethusa, and that its clear waters were reddened with the blood of the victims slain at the Olympic games.

Ques. Who was Echo?

Ans. Echo was a nymph, the daughter of Air and Tellus; she was one of Juno’s attendants, but offended that goddess by her talkativeness. She was so far deprived of speech, that she could only repeat the last words of every sentence which she heard. Echo loved the youth Narcissus, and seeing that he despised her affection, she pined away till nothing remained of her but her voice and bones. The latter were changed into stones, but the voice is still heard among rocks and in solitary places, repeating always the last words that are spoken.

Ques. What was the fate of Narcissus?

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Ans. One legend is that he saw his image reflected in a fountain, and, not perceiving that it was but his own shadow, gazed at it, lost in admiration, until he was changed into the flower that bears his name. According to another version, Narcissus had a twin-sister who resembled him closely in form and feature, and was his constant companion. This sister died young, and Narcissus, deeply lamenting her death, used to go to a neighboring fountain, and try to recall the image of his sister by gazing at his own reflection in the waters.

Ques. Were there many rural divinities?

Ans. Yes, a great number; but only a few were well known. Among those we may mention Pomona, the goddess of orchards, and Flora, the goddess of flowers. Pales was the goddess of shepherds and pastures. The Romans celebrated feasts, called Pallia, in her honor. They offered milk, and cakes of millet, that she might drive away the wolves, and prevent diseases among the cattle.

Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

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