*Belated post for the A to Z. I was out of town for an emergency, and now I’m catching up. Hello, world!
Day Fourteen of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “N” post features nymphs!
What do we know about nymphs?
They’re youthful, beautiful and alluring woman. Aside from the good looks, and the gift of youth, the nymphs were minor deities. Nature daemons/spirits, they presided over “natural phenomena–from springs, to clouds, trees, caverns, meadows, and beaches.” (source)
Basically the nymphs were super park rangers.
Nymphs were grouped together in Greek mythology. There were the Dryads, wood nymphs, Nereids, sea nymphs, and the Sirens, and many more. Nymphs were also companions of gods. Artemis has a posse of huntress-nymphs, Dionysus tours with his troupe of Maenads, Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, has the torch-carrying, night-traveling Lampades, and Mt. Olympus has a staff of nymph handmaidens aiding the goddess that call that place home (i.e. Hera).
But instead of bombarding this post with a bunch of nymphs, I’ve chosen my top three favorite mythological ladies: Maia, Echo, and Procris.
The eldest of the seven nymph sisters called the Pleiades, Maia caught the amorous attention of Zeus. She lived in a cave, and she had Zeus visiting her. The cave kept Maia safe from Hera’s discovery and subsequent wrathful vengeance. Maia secretly gave birth to the god, Hermes.
While an infant, the cleverly divine Hermes crawled off and stole cattle from his half-brother Apollo. Angry, Apollo tracked Hermes to Maia’s cave. A bewildered Maia can’t see how Hermes could have stolen the cattle; nevertheless, Apollo asks Zeus to intervene and punish Hermes.
Hermes goes on to woo Apollo with a lyre, and Apollo is so taken by the tiny god, that he drops his charges and even gives Hermes (and Maia) some more cattle.
Clearly, Maia was one of the luckier nymph-lovers of Zeus. If you remember, Leto, Apollo’s mother, didn’t get the same treatment.
Echo was an Oread, or a mountain nymph. She called Mount Kithairon in Boeotia her home. Zeus was a frequent visitor to the mountain, where Echo witnessed him chasing her sister-spirits. Hera would tail her husband, but Echo would engage her in long conversation to keep her distracted while Zeus pursued his favorite hobby…
Catching on, Hera cursed Echo and the nymph was forced to repeat the words of others – never able to speak her own thoughts anymore.
Then Echo fell in love, with Narcissus of all men.
Beautiful, the young, pig-headed hunter shrugged off the affections of others. Echo couldn’t pronounce her love – not that it would melt Narcissus’s heart – and when he pushed her away, Echo wandered the woods miserably for the rest of her life…at least until an echo was the only testament to her existence.
Of course, Narcissus gets his comeuppance.
Bewitched by Nemesis, goddess of retribution + sighting reflection in lake and falling in love with self = stupidly drowning to death.
A couple versions of the tale of Procris, nymph princess and her lover, prince-hunter Cephalus. Both end tragically, so prepare the tissues if you cry easily (like me).
This first version has Cephalus either wanting to test Procris’s fidelity and the power of her love for him by leaving for eight years on a hunting trip – or he’s been captured and held against his own will by Eos, the goddess of dawn. Eos has fallen for the hunter, and she wants Cephalus to herself. When Cephalus begs her enough, Eos lets him go but with a warning – she has him test Procris.
So Cephalus returns to his wife in guise, and offers her money to let him sleep with her. Procris has no clue this is her husband, but she accepts the trade anyways.
In the second version, Eos isn’t involved. Cephalus performs the test on his own.
However it happens, Procris’s infidelity is revealed and, humiliated, she runs away from Athens, the kingdom of her father.
Cephalus chases her, possibly to reconcile, but he can’t find her. Pausing to rest, Cephalus hears the bushes rustling and he turns and lets his arrow sail towards the beast interrupting him. Only the beast is Cephalus’s beauty, Procris. She dies of her mortal wound.
The tale has also been told differently, where Procris manages to run farther from Cephalus. She ends up either in the company of Artemis and her huntress-nymphs or she sails to Crete (where she may or may not be the lover of King Minos) and returns to Athens disguised as a beautiful, youthful boy. In either version, she returns with a hound that always caught its prey and a magical dart that never missed its mark.
With old yeller and the dart, Procris enters a hunting expedition being led by her estranged husband, Cephalus (who may or may not have left Procris for Eos). Procris traded that dart and hound for her husband’s forgiveness and love. Procris still couldn’t shake off her jealous thoughts that Cephalus spent his time out “hunting” with his lover(s).
Following him, Procris alarms Cephalus and he shoots and kills her.
In the versions I found, it’s agreed that Procris dies happily in Cephalus’s arms once she realizes her husband truly loved her and only her.
Ahh, the trap of Romeo and Juliet. The youthful rush into action and the irreversible consequence.
MORAL: Pause and breathe, rash youth, it might save your life and the lives of those you love so passionately.
Sources I used for this post:
Check them out when you can; you won’t be disappointed if you’re a Greek myth buff!