In Greek mythology, the Naiads (/ˈnædz, -ədz/; Greek: Ναϊάδες) are a type of female spirit, or nymph, presiding over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of fresh water.

A Naiad by John William Waterhouse, 1893; a water nymph approaches the sleeping Hylas.
Sub groupingWater spirit
Similar creaturesMermaid
HabitatAny body of fresh water

They are distinct from river gods, who embodied rivers, and the very ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes, ponds and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolis.

Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids specifically with the Mediterranean, but because the ancient Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus to surface on the island of Sicily.


The Greek word is Ναϊάς (Nāiás, pronounced [na͜a.i.ás]), plural Ναϊάδες (Nāiádes, [na͜a.i.á]) It derives from νάειν (náein), "to flow", or νᾶμα (nãma), "running water". "Naiad" has several English pronunciations: /ˈnæd/, /ˈnəd/, /ˈnæd/, /ˈnəd/.


Naiads were often the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Boys and girls at coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local naiad of the spring. In places like Lerna their waters' ritual cleansings were credited with magical medical properties. Animals were ritually drowned there. Oracles might be situated by ancient springs.

Naiads could be dangerous: Hylas of the Argo's crew was lost when he was taken by naiads fascinated by his beauty (see illustration). The naiads were also known to exhibit jealous tendencies. Theocritus' story of naiad jealousy was that of a shepherd, Daphnis, who was the lover of Nomia or Echenais; Daphnis had on several occasions been unfaithful to Nomia and as revenge she permanently blinded him. The nymph Salmacis raped Hermaphroditus and fused with him when he tried to escape.

The water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in the Celtic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to Saints, and in the medieval Melusine.

Walter Burkert points out, "When in the Iliad [xx.4–9] Zeus calls the gods into assembly on Mount Olympus, it is not only the well-known Olympians who come along, but also all the nymphs and all the rivers; Okeanos alone remains at his station",[1] Greek hearers recognized this impossibility as the poet's hyperbole, which proclaimed the universal power of Zeus over the ancient natural world: "the worship of these deities," Burkert confirms, "is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality."[1]


Robert Graves offered a sociopolitical reading of the common myth-type in which a mythic king is credited with marrying a naiad and founding a city: it was the newly arrived Hellenes justifying their presence. The loves and rapes of Zeus, according to Graves' readings, record the supplanting of ancient local cults by Olympian ones (Graves 1955, passim).

So, in the back-story of the myth of Aristaeus, Hypseus, a king of the Lapiths, married Chlidanope, a naiad, who bore him Cyrene. Aristaeus had more than ordinary mortal experience with the naiads: when his bees died in Thessaly, he went to consult them. His aunt Arethusa invited him below the water's surface, where he was washed with water from a perpetual spring and given advice.

Types and individual names

Name Location Notes/ Relation
I. Eleionomae marshes -
II. Crinaeae fountains -
The Sithnides Megara, Attica one of them became the mother of Megaros by Zeus
Aganippe Mt. Helicon, Boeotia daughter of the river-god Termessus
Appias Rome lived in the Appian Well outside the temple to Venus Genitrix in the Roman Forum
Myrtoessa Megalopolis, Arcadia one of the nurses of infant Zeus
III. Limnades lakes -
The Astakides Lake Astacus, Bithynia appeared in the myth of Nicaea
Bolbe Lake Bolbe, Thessaly an Oceanid due to her parentage (daughter of Oceanus and Tethys)
Limnaee lake in India daughter of the Indian river god Ganges; one of the reputed mothers of Athis
Pallas Lake Tritonis, Libya daughter of Triton or of Poseidon and Tritonis; accidentally killed by her playmate, the goddess Athena
Tritonis Lake Tritonis, Libya mother of Nasamon and Caphaurus (or Cephalion) by Amphithemis, and according to an archaic version of the myth, also of Athena by Poseidon; she could be also the mother of above Pallas and Athena again by Triton
IV. Potameides rivers -
The Acheloides Achelous River, Aetolia daughters of the river god Achelous; see also Castalia and Callirhoe below
• The Sirens (possibly) Island of Anthemoessa their mother could be one of the Muses (Terpsichore, Melpomene or Calliope) or Sterope; they were close companions of the goddess Persephone before her abduction
The Aesepides Aesepus River, Troad daughters of the river god Aesepus
Abarbarea -do- wife of Bucolion by whom she mothered twin sons by him, Aesepus and Pedasus
The Amnisiades Amnisus River, Crete daughters of the river god Amnisos who served as handmaidens of the goddess Artemis
The Asopides Asopus River, Sicyon or Boeotia daughters of the river god Asopus and Metope; all abducted by the gods
Aegina Island of Aegina mother of Menoetius by Actor, and Aeacus by Zeus
• Asopis - -
• Chalcis Chalcis, Euboea regarded as the mother of the Curetes and Corybantes; perhaps the same as Combe and Euboea below
• Cleone Cleonae, Argos -
Combe Island of Euboea consort of Socus and mother by him of the seven Corybantes
Corcyra Island of Corcyra mother of Phaiax by Poseidon
Euboea Island of Euboea abducted by Poseidon
• Gargaphia or Plataia or Oeroe Plataea, Boeotia carried off by Zeus
Harpina Pisa, Elis mother of Oenomaus by Ares
Ismene[2][3] Ismenian spring of Thebes, Boeotia wife of Argus, eponymous king of Argus and thus, mother of Argus Panoptes and Iasus.
• Nemea Nemea, Argolis others called her the daughter of Zeus and Selene
• Ornea Ornia, Sicyon -
Peirene Corinth others called her father to be Oebalus or Achelous by Poseidon she became the mother of Lecheas and Cenchrias
Salamis Island of Salamis mother of Cychreus by Poseidon
Sinope Sinope, Anatolia mother of Syrus by Apollo
• Tanagra Tanagra, Boeotia mother of Leucippus and Ephippus by Poemander
Thebe Thebes, Boeotia wife of Zethus and also said to have consorted with Zeus
• Thespeia Thespia, Boeotia abducted by Apollo
The Asterionides Asterion River, Argos daughters of the river god Asterion; nurses of the infant goddess Hera
Acraea -do- -
Euboea -do- -
• Prosymna -do- -
The Cephisides Cephissus River, Boeotia daughters of the river god Cephissus; mothers of the 50 sons of Orion
The Cocythiae Cocytus River, Underworld naiads of Hades
The Erasinides Erasinos River, Argos daughters of the river god Erasinos; attendants of the goddess Britomartis.
Anchiroe -do- -
• Byze -do- -
Maera -do- -
Melite -do- -
The Hydaspides Hydaspers River, India daughters of the river god Hydaspes and Astris, they were nurses of the god Zagreus, the first-born Dionysos
The Inachides Inachos River, Argos daughters of the river god Inachus
Io -do- mother of Epaphus by Zeus
Amymone[4] -do- -
Philodice[5] -do- wife of Leucippus of Messenia by whom she became the mother of Hilaeira, Phoebe and possibly Arsinoe
• Messeis -do- -
• Hyperia[6][7][8] -do- -
Mycene -do- wife of Arestor and by him probably the mother of Argus Panoptes; eponym of Mycenae
The Lamides Lamos River, Cilicia daughters of the river god Lamos; nurses of the god Dionysus
The Pactolides Pactolus River, Lydia appeared in the myth concerning Arachne
The Spercheides Spercheus River, Malis daughters of the river god Spercheus and the naiad Deino
Diopatre -do- others called her the daughter of Zeus; loved by Poseidon
The Thessalids Peneus River, Thessaly daughters of the river god Peneus
Daphne -do- loved by the god Apollo; see below entry of Daphne
Menippe -do- wife of Pelasgus, by whom she became the mother of Phrastor
Stilbe -do- bore to Apollo twin sons, Centaurus and Lapithus.
Cyrene -do- also called the daughter of Peneus' son Hypseus and mother of Aristaeus and Idmon by Apollo
Trojan Nymphs or Trojan Naiads Scamander River and Simoeis River, Troad daughters of the river gods, Scamander and Simoeis
Callirrhoe Scamander River, Troad daughter of the river god Scamander; wife of Tros and mother of Ilus, Assaracus and Ganymede
Glaucia -do- daughter of the Trojan river god Scamander; wife of Deimachus and the mother of Scamander who was named after his grandfather
Strymo -do- wife of King Laomedon and the mother of King Priam and Tithonus
Astyoche Simoeis River, Troad daughter of the river god Simoeis, mother of Tros by Erichthonius
Hieromneme -do- daughter of the river-god Simoïs and the wife of Assaracus, by whom she bore Capys or the daughter-in-law of Assaracus, wife of Capys and mother of Anchises
Individual Potameides:
Alce Sangarius River, Phrygia presumably daughter of the river-god Sangarius
Anchinoe Nile River, Egypt daughter of the river Nilus; wife of the Egyptian King Belus; mother of Aegyptus and Danaus, and perhaps, Cepheus and Phineus.
Anippe Nile River, Egypt loved by the god Poseidon by whom she became the mother of Busiris
Argiope Nile River, Egypt daughter of the river Nilus; wife of Agenor and mother of Europa, Phoenix, Cilix and Cadmus; commonly known as Telephassa
Asterope or Hesperia Cebren River, Troad daughter of the river god Cebren and lover of Aesacus, also called Hesperia
Caliadne Nile River, Egypt presumably one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus; one of the wives of Aegyptus, bearing him 12 sons: Eurylochus, Phantes, Peristhenes, Hermus, Dryas, Potamon, Cisseus, Lixus, Imbrus, Bromios, Polyctor, and Chthonios
Chione Nile River, Egypt daughter of the Oceanid Callirrhoe and the river god Nilus
Cleochareia Eurotas River, Laconia queen consort of King Lelex and mother of Myles and Polycaon
Deino Spercheus River, Malis wife of the river god Spercheios and by him the mother of Diopatre
Europa Nile River, Egypt one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus; wife of Danaus who bore him the Danaides
Eurryroe Nile River, Egypt one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus; wife of Aegyptus who bore him fifty sons
Hercyna Herkyna River, Lebadeia a childhood companion of the goddess Persephone
Ismenis Ismenos River, Thebes daughters of the river god Ismenus; mother, by Pan, of Crenaeus, a defender of Thebes against the Seven
Lethe Lethe River, Hades -
Memphis Nile River, Egypt daughter of Nilus; she was the wife to Epaphus and mother of Libya and Anippe or Lysianassa
Metis Meles River, Smyrna daughter of the river god Meles; mother of Homer by Maeon
Moria Hermos River, Lydia brother of Tylus
Nana Sangarius River, Phrygia daughter of the river-god Sangarius; she was impregnated by an almond from the tree sprung from the severed genitals of Agdistis, giving birth to Attis.
Neda Neda River, Arcadia daughter of Oceanus; one of the nurses of infant Zeus
Ocyrhoe Imbrasus River, Samos daughter of the river god Imbrasus and Chesias; she was pursued by the god Apollo
Ocyrhoe Sangarius River, Phrygia daughter of the river-god Sangarius; she was the mother, by Hippasus, of Hippomedon
Ocyrhoe Caicus River, Mysia mother of Caicus by Hermes
Polyxo Nile River, Egypt or in Libya presumably one of the daughters of the river-god Nilus; she was one of the wives of Danaus and bore him 12 daughters: Autonoe, Theano, Electra, Cleopatra, Eurydice, Glaucippe, Anthelea, Cleodora, Euippe, Erato, Stygne and Bryce
Styx Styx River, Underworld an Oceanid; she was the wife of Pallas and thus mother of Zelus, Nike, Kratos, and Bia
Symaethis Symaithos River, Sicily loved by Pan
Syrinx Ladon River, Arcadia daughter of the river god Ladon; pursued by Pan
Tereine Strymon River, Thrace daughter of the river god Strymon; mother of Thrassa by Ares
Zeuxippe Eridanus River, Athens mother of Butes by Teleon
V. Pegaeae springs -
The Anigrides Elis daughters of the river god Anigros, were believed to cure skin diseases[9][10][11]
The Corycian Nymphs Corycian cave, Delphi, Phocis daughters of the river god Pleistos
Kleodora (or Cleodora) Mt. Parnassus, Phocis mother of Parnassus by Poseidon
Corycia Corycian cave, Delphi, Phocis mother of Lycoreus by Apollo
Melaina -do- mother of Delphos by Apollo
The Cyrtonian nymphs Boeotia local springs in the town of Cyrtones[12][13]
The Deliades Delos daughters of Inopus, god of the river Inopus[14][15]
The Himerian Naiads[16][17]
The Ionides Elis daughters of the river god Cytherus[18]
• Calliphaea -do- -
• Iasis -do- -
• Pegaea -do- -
• Synallaxis -do- -
The Ithacian nymphs Ithaca dwelled in sacred caves on the island[19]
The Leibethrides
• Libethrias
• Petra[20][21]
The Mysian Naiads Bithynia dwelled in the spring of Pegae near the lake Askanios and were responsible for the kidnapping of Hylas[22][23]
• Euneica
• Malis
• Nycheia[24]
The Ortygian nymphs Sicily local springs of Syracuse[25][26]
The Pierides
The Rhyndacides daughters of the river god Rhyndacus[27]
Individual Pegaeae:
Alexirhoe Mt. Ida, Troad daughter of the river god Grenikos; mother of Aesacus by Priam[28]
Arethusa Island of Ortygia daughter of Nereus[30][31][32]
Automate Argos -
Callirrhoe Acarnania mother of Amphoterus and Acarnan by Alcmaeon
Castalia or Cassotis Delphi, Phocis others called her the daughter of the river god Cephissus[33]
Comaetho daughter or wife of the river god Cydnus[34]
Cyane Sicily playmate of Persephone who was changed into a well through grief at the loss of her
Dirce transformed into a spring (presumably into a nymph personifying it) after her death
Hagno Arcadia one of the nurses of infant Zeus
Metope wife of Asopus
Pegasis daughter of the river god Grenikos[36]
Peuce Peuce Island mother of Peucon
Pharmaceia Attica nymph of a poisonous spring and Orithyia's playmate[37][38]
Physadeia Argolis
Psanis Arcadia may have been the wife of the river god Ladon
Strophia Thebes spring on Mount Cithaeron; barely personified[39]
Telphousa Arcadia daughter of the river-god Ladon
Theisoa Arcadia
Name Location Relations
Aba Ciconia, Thrace presumed daughter of the river Hebros; mother of Ergiscus by Poseidon[40]
Abarbarea Tyre ancestors of the Tyrians along with Callirrhoe and Drosera
Aegle - daughter of Zeus and Neaera, by whom Helios begot the Charites
Aia Colchis loved by the river-god Phasis.
Alcinoe Mt. Lycaeus, Arcadia one of the nurses of the god Zeus
Anchiroe Arcadia one of the nurses of the god Zeus
Anchiroe Libya wife of the Psylli tribe's first king Psyllus
Annaed - -
Anthedon Boeotia -
Argiope Mt. Parnassus, Phocis possibly the daughter of the river-god Cephissus, mother of Thamyris by Philammon
Argiope Eleusis possibly the daughter of the river-god Cephissus, mother of Cercyon by Branchus
Argyra Achaea loved by the hero Selemnus
Ascra Boeotia loved by Poseidon who bore him a son Oeoclus
Asterodia Caucasus daughter of Oceanus and Tethys; loved by the Colchian king Aeetes by whom she had a son Apsyrtus
Asterope Sicily an Oceanid; mother of Acragas by Zeus
Bateia Sparta married King Oebalus of Sparta and mother of their sons were Hippocoon, Tyndareus and Icarius
Bistonis Thrace mother of Tereus by Ares
Byzia Byzantium -
Callirrhoe Tyre ancestors of the Tyrians along with Abarbarea and Drosera
Ceto - an Oceanid; she bore Helios a daughter, Astris
Chesias Samos loved by the river god Imbrasis
Charybdis - daughter of Poseidon and Gaia
Chlidanope possibly Thessaly wife of Hypseus and mother Cyrene
Cleide Naxos one of the nurses of the god Dionysus
Cleomede Paeonia daughter of the river god Axius; she was the wife of Paeon
Clonia Boeotia consort of Hyrieus and by him became the mother of Nycteus and Lycus
Cnossia Crete mother of Xenodamos by Menelaus when he visited the island
Coronis Naxos one of the nurses of the god Dionysus
Cretheis Smyrna, Ionia mother of Homer by the river god Meles
Creusa Thessaly daughter of Gaia; she bore Hypseus and Stilbe to the river god Peneus
Cyanea Miletus, Caria daughter of the river Meander; wife of king Miletos and mother by him of Caunus and Byblis
Danais Elis she was loved by the Pisan king Pelops by whom she became the mother of his bastard son, Chrysippus
Daphne Arcadia or Laconia daughter of the river god Ladon or of king Amyclas; loved by the god Apollo
Daulis Boeotia daughter of the river-god Cephisus
Dercetis Boeotia mother of Alatreus by Laphitaon
Diogeneia Attica daughter of the river-god Cephisus; the wife of the Athenian lord Phrasimos and mother by him of Praxithea
Drosera Tyre ancestors of the Tyrians along with Abarbarea and Callirhoe
Echenais Sicily blinded his unfaithful lover Daphnis
Eupheme Boeotia nurse of the Muses; mother of Crotus by Pan
Evadne Argolis daughter of Strymon and Neaera, wife of Argus (king of Argos), mother of Ecbasus, Peiras, Epidaurus and Criasus
Glauce Arcadia one of the nurses of Zeus
Harmonia Acmonia, Phrygia mother of the Amazons by Ares
Hippe Argolis -
Lara Rome daughter of the river Almo; mother of the Lares by Mercury
Lilaea Phocis daughter of the local river-god Cephisus
Liriope Phocis bore a son Narcissus to the river-god Cephisus
Lotis Dryopia/ Doris escape from the embraces of Priapus was metamorphosed into a tree
Melia Argolis an Oceanid; mother, by Inachus, of Phoroneus and Aegialeus
Melia Boeotia an Oceanid; mother, by Apollo, of Tenerus and Ismenus
Melia Bithynia mother, by Poseidon, of Mygdon and Amycus, kings of Bebryces
Melia Bithynia she was the mother by Silenus of Dolion
Melia Ceos mother, by Apollo, of Ceos
Melite Corcyra daughter of the river god Aegaeus and mother of Hyllus by Heracles
Methone Pieria mother of Oeagrus by Pierus
Midea Boeotia mother of Aspledon by Poseidon
Minthe Elis daughter of Cocytus; loved by the god Hades but as punishment her boasts was transformed by Persephone or Demeter into a mint-plant
Nacole Phrygia eponym of Nacoleia
Nais Laconia wife of Silenus
Neaera Thrace wife of the river-god Strymon, and mother of Evadne
Neaera Lydia mother of Dresaeus by Theiodamas
Neis - mother of Aetolus by Endymion
Nicaea Bithynia daughter of the river-god Sangarius and Cybele. By the god of wine, Dionysus, she mothered Telete (consecration)
Nomia Arcadia companion of Callisto
Nonacris Arcadia wife of Lycaon and the mother of Callisto
Ocyrhoe Colchis mother of Phasis by Helios
Orseis Thessaly mother of Dorus, Aeolus and Xuthus by Hellen
Ortygia Lycia nurse of Apollo
Paria Paros mother of Eurymedon, Nephalion, Chryses and Philolaus by Minos
Periboea Laconia wife of Icarius, mother of Penelope, Perilaus, Aletes, Damasippus, Imeusimus and Thoas
Pero Sicyon mother of Asopus by Poseidon
Philia Naxos one of the nurses of the god Dionysus
Phrixa Arcadia one of the nurses of Zeus
Pitane Laconia daughter of the river god Eurotas, became by Poseidon the mother of Evadne
Praxithea Athens married Erichthonius of Athens and by him had a son named Pandion I
Pronoe Lycia mother of Aegialus by Caunus
Rhodope Thrace mother of Hebros by Haemus and of Cicon by Apollo
Samia Samos wife of Ancaeus
Sparta Sparta daughter of the river god Eurotas; mother of Amyclas and Eurydice by Lacedaemon
Syllis Sicyon mother of Zeuxippus by Apollo
Thronia Thrace mother of Abderus by Poseidon
Tiasa Sparta daughter of the river god Eurotas

Place names

St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans was formerly known as Nyades Street, and is parallel to Dryades Street.

See also


  1. Burkert, III, 3.3, p. 174.
  2. Bibliotheca 2.6
  3. Theoi Project - Ismene
  4. Theoi Project - Amymone
  5. Tzetzes on Lycophron, 511
  6. Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 66
  7. Gaius Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 374 ff
  8. Theoi Project - Inachides
  9. Strabo, Geography 8.3.19
  10. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 5.5.11
  11. Theoi Project - Anigrides
  12. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 9.24.4
  13. Theoi Project - Nymphai Kyrtoniai
  14. Callimachus, Hymn IV to Delos, 252
  15. Theoi Project - Deliades
  16. Pindar, Odes Olympian, 12
  17. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 5. 1
  18. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.22.7
  19. Homer, Odyssey 13.96 ff
  20. Strabo, Geography 9.2.25; 10.3.17
  21. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 9.34.4
  22. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 1225 ff.
  23. Hyginus, Fabulae 14
  24. Theocritus, Idylls, 13. 44
  25. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5.5.1
  26. Theoi Project - Naiades Ortygiai
  27. Theoi Project - Rhyndacides
  28. Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 762 ff
  29. Pliny the Elder, Natural History 3. 89, in a list of Sicilian springs, of which only Arethousa and Cyane are known to have been personified
  30. Strabo, Geography 6. 2. 4
  31. Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 407 & 487 ff
  32. Virgil, Aeneid 3. 694 ff
  33. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 10.8.9; 10.24.7
  34. Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 2. 143-144 & 40 141-143
  35. Statius, Thebaid 4.716
  36. Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 3.300
  37. Plato, Phaedrus 229
  38. Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 3, page 238
  39. Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 75 ff
  40. Suida, Suda Encyclopedia s.v. Ergiske


  • Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus) 2.95, 2.11, 2.21, 2.23, 1.61, 1.81, 1.7.6
  • Homer. Odyssey 13.355, 17.240, Iliad 14.440, 20.380
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses
  • Hesiod. Theogony
  • Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-674-36281-0.
  • Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1955
  • Edgar Allan Poe, "Sonnet to Science" 1829
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