Saturday, 6 November 2021

Nymphs of Ancient Greece

For ancient Greeks, every waterway was protected by nymphs. These were ageless young girls who existed even before the Olympic gods — and long before the arrival of mortals. Not all nymphs were immortal. Some died after living for centuries. They existed in a world between mortals and the gods. Nymphs were generally harmless, but not always. For a young man there was a risk of being bewitched and becoming their enslaved lovers. The most famous nymphs were the Pleiades, seven sisters who were immortalized by Zeus when he turned them into the Pleiades constellation. Nymphs were charged with protecting the earth, but their influence went beyond this.
A sea nymph named Thetis was the mother of Achilles. To make him invulnerable she dipped baby Achilles in the river Styx. She held him by one heel, which remained dry and unprotected. He was later killed in the Trojan War by an arrow shot by Paris that struck that spot. This is the origin of the phrase, “to have an Achilles heel.” Two of the best known nymphs were Circe and Kalypso. They helped Odysseus overcome seemingly impossible barriers to return home following the Trojan War.