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In Greek mythology, the Nereids (NEER-ee-eds) are blue-haired sea nymphs, daughters of Nereus and Doris. They often accompany Poseidon and are always friendly and helpful towards sailors fighting perilous storms. They are associated with the Mediterranean Sea.

NEREIS RIDING KETOS ca 425 - 401 BC


Nature

Ethymology

NEREIS (Nêreïs), or Nerine (Virg. Eclog. vii. 37), is a patronymic from Nereus, and applied to his daughters (Nereides, Nêreïdes, and in Homer Nêrêïdes) by Doris



Description

Nereids were depicted as youthful, beautiful maidens, sometimes clothed, sometimes naked. They were often shown holding fish in their hands. They appeared in the retinue of Poseidon accompanied by Tritones and other sea monsters, and riding dolphins, hippokampoi, and other sea animals. Thetis was often portrayed as their unofficial leader.

They were frequently represented in antiquity, in paintings, on gems, in reliefs and statues, and commonly as youthful, beautiful, and naked maidens, and often grouped together with Tritons and other marine monsters, in which they resemble the Bacchic routs.

Sometimes, also, they appear on gems as half maidens and half fish, like mermaids, the belief in whom is quite analogous to the belief of the ancients in the existence of the Nereides.


Behavior

Sometimes seen frolicking on the surface of the water, the nereids (whose name means 'wet ones') lived in the underwater palace of their father. These virgins had golden hair and each had a golden throne in their father's palace. They wove and spun and often rode on dolphins.


Element

Water


Powers / Weaknesses

As daughters of Nereus, they have the same power to assume any shape they chose. The Nereids rendered assistance to sailors and fishermen and were worshipped especially in sea-port towns.


Family

The Nereids are the daughters of the nymph Doris and of Nereus. They number in fifty (although it is sometimes said that they number in 100). The most notable of them is Thetis, wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles; and Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon.



Place

They were regarded by the ancients as marine nymphs of the Mediterranean, in comparison with the Naiades, or the nymphs of fresh water, and the Oceanides, or the nymphs of the great ocean (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 622).


History/Beliefs

They were worshipped in several parts of Greece, but more especially in sea-port towns. such as Cardamyle (Paus. iii. 2. § 5), and on the Isthmus of Corinth (ii. 1. § 7). (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. p. 150, tabb. 18, 19.)


Famous Nereids

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. C19th Classics Encyclopedia. NAMES OF THE NEREIDES

The names underlined are those Nereides which are common to most of the lists of these goddesses given by ancient authors (and which named in common by both Homer and Hesiod).

(This list does not include the last 17 names from the list of Hyginus - a typically inaccurate writer, who obtained these names from Virgil's list of unrelated Okeanides).


  • AGAUE The Nereis named Illustrious. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • AKTAIE The Nereis of the sea-shore. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • AMATHEIA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • AMPHINOME The Nereis of well-known flows (sea currents). (Homer, Hyginus)
  • AMPHITHOE The Nereis of flowing around (sea currents). (Homer, Hyginus)
  • AMPHITRITE The Nereis of hollow sea-caves, queen of the sea, wife of Poseidon. Together with her sisters *Kymatolege and Kymodoke she possessed the power to still the winds and calm the sea. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • APSEUDES One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • AUTONOE A Nereis named With her Own Mind. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • DERO One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • DEXAMENE One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • DIONE One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • DORIS The Nereis of the bountiful (catch). (Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus)
  • DOTO The Nereis of giving (safe voyage or fish), who had a shrine in the town of Gabala. (Hesiod, Homer, *Apollodorus, Pausanias, Hyginus)
  • DYNAMENE The Nereis of (sea) power. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • EIONE The Nereis of the beach strand. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • ERATO A Nereis named the Lovely. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EUAGORE The Nereis of good assembling (fish or navy-ships?). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EUARNE One of the Nereides. (Hesiod)
  • EUDORA The Nereis of good gifts (sailing or fish-catch). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EUKRANTE The Nereis of success(ful voyage or fish-catch). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EULIMENE The Nereis of good harbourage. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EUMOLPE A Nereis named Fine-Singing. (Apollodorus)
  • EUNIKE The Nereis of good (maritime) victory. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • EUPOMPE The Nereis of good festive or processional voyage. (Hesiod)
  • GALATEIA The Nereis of milk-white (sea-foam). She was loved by the Kyklops Polyphemos. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • GALENE The Nereis of calm seas. (Hesiod, Pausanias)
  • GLAUKE The Nereis of gray (waters). (Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus)
  • GLAUKONOME The Nereis of mastering the grey (sea). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • HALIA The Nereis of the sea's brine. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus)
  • HALIMEDE The Nereis lady of the sea's brine. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • HIPPONOE The Nereis of the temper of horses (waves). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • HIPPOTHOE The Nereis of running horses (waves). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • IAIRA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • IANASSA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • IANEIRA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • IONE One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • KALLIANASSA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • KALLIANEIRA One of the Nereides. (Homer)
  • KALYPSO One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • KETO The Nereis of sea-monsters. (Apollodorus)
  • KLAIA One of the Nereides. (Pausanias)
  • KLYMENE A Nereis named Fame. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • KRANTO One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • KYMO, KYMATOLEGE The Nereis of waves (or the end of waves) who with her sisters Amphitrite and Kymodoke had the power to still the winds and calm the sea. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • KYMODOKE The Nereis of steadying waves who with her sisters Amphitrite and Kymatolege possessed the power to still the winds and calm the sea. (Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • KYMOTHOE The Nereis of the running waves. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • LAOMEDEIA A Nereis named Leader of the People. (Hesiod)
  • LEAGORE The Nereis of assembling (fish or navies?). (Hesiod)
  • LIMNOREIA The Nereis of salt-marshes. (Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • LYSIANASSA The Nereis of royal delivery. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • MAIRA One of the Nereides. (Homer, Hyginus)
  • MELITE The Nereis of calm (seas). (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • MENIPPE The Nereis of strong horses (waves). (Hesiod)
  • NAUSITHOE The Nereis of swift ships. (Apollodorus)
  • NEMERTES The Nereis of unerring (good council), wisest of the sisters. (Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus)
  • NEOMERIS One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • NESAIE The Nereis of islands. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • NESO The Nereis of islands. (Hesiod)
  • OREITHYIA The Nereis of raging (seas). (Homer, Hyginus)
  • PANOPE, PANOPEIA The Nereis of (sea) panorama. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • PASITHEA A Nereis named All-Divine. (Hesiod)
  • PHEROUSA The Nereis of carrying (sailors or fish). (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • PLEXAURE One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • PLOTO The Nereis of sailing. (Hesiod)
  • POLYNOME One of the Nereides. (Apollodorus)
  • PONTOMEDOUSA A Nereis named Sea-Queen. (Apollodorus)
  • PONTOPOREIA The Nereis of sea-crossing. (Hesiod)
  • POULYNOE The Nereis named Richness of Mind. (Hesiod)
  • PRONOE The Nereis of (sailing) forethought. (Hesiod)
  • PROTO The Nereis of first (voyage). (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus)
  • PROTOMEDEIA The Nereis named First-Queen. (Hesiod)
  • PSAMATHE The Nereis goddess of sand. (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • SAO The Nereis of safe (passage). (Hesiod, Apollodorus)
  • SPEIO The Nereis of (sea) caves. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • THALEIA A Nereis named Bloom. (Homer, Hyginus, Virgil)
  • THEMISTO The Nereis of (sea) law. (Hesiod)
  • THETIS The Nereis of the generation or spawning (of fish), and their leader. She was the mother of the Greek hero Akhilleus. (Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus, Virgil)
  • THOE The Nereis of speeding (voyage) or running (waves). (Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus)


Story

In Iliad XVIII, when Thetis cries out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for the slain Patroclus, "there gathered round her every goddess, every Nereid that was in the deep salt sea. Glauce was there and Thaleia and Cymodoce; Nesaea, Speio, Thoe and ox-eyed Halie; Cymothoe, Actaee and Limnoreia; Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agaue; Doto, Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene; Dexamene, Amphinome and Callianeira; Doris, Panope and far-sung Galatea (mythology)|Galatea; Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. Clymene came too, with Ianeira, Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia, Amatheia of the lovely locks, and other Nereids of the salt sea depths. The silvery cave was full of nymphs" (E.V. Rieu, translator).