Nereides by Danielle NEUVEUX-Beno?t

The daughters of Nereus, the ancient sea god, the Nereides---or Dorides, as they were also called---numbered, according to one account, fifty;to another, a hundred. They dwelt in a splendid cave at the bottom of the sea, and rode on dolphins or other creatures of the deep. Like all nymphs, the Nereides were playful, given to splashing about in the water, swimming, or sitting on rocks at the sea's edge, drying their wonderful tresses. It may be from them that the legend of mermaids sprung.

The most famous of the Nereides were Amphitrite, Thetis, Panope and Galates. Amphitrite married Poseidon, while Zeus was strongly attracted to Thetis, but on learning that the marriage would bring forth a son who would surpass his father in might, Zeus relinquished his wish, and gave Thetis in marriage to Peleus, to whom she bore Achilles, and thereafter returned to her sisters of the sea.

Of the other Nereides, it was seen that each represented a function or faculty of the sea. Galene and Glauke, for example, represented the peaceful shimmering light upon its gently moving bosom, while Thoe and Halie stood for the play of fantastic waves. The impetuous rush of billows on island shores were the province of Nesaie and Aktaee, while Pasithea, Erato and Euneike were linked with the fascination of the gaily rising tide. The swell and rush of mighty waves were seen to be under the control of Phersusa and Dynamene.

They had the power to change into any form they chose.The Nereides rendered assistance to sailors and were worshipped especially in sea-port towns.They appeared in the retinue of Poseidon accompanied by Tritones and other sea monsters, and riding dolphins, hippokampoi, and other sea animals.

Thetis often took the role of their unofficial leader. Some of their names are connected with the sea while others are abstractions. These fifty goddesses were depicted as youthful, beautiful maidens - sometimes clothed, sometimes naked. They were often shown holding fish in their hands.


“The goddesses gathered about her [Thetis], all who along the depth of the sea were daughters of Nereus. For Glauke was there, Kymodoke and Thaleia (=Bloom), Nesaie and Speio and Thoe, and ox-eyed Halia ; Kymothoe was there, Aktaia and Limnoreia (=Marsh), Melite and Iaira, Amphithoe (=She who runs around) and Agaue, Doto and Proto, Dynamene and Pherousa, Dexamene and Amphinome and Kallianeira; Doris and Panope and glorious Galateia, Nemertes and Apseudes and Kallianassa; Klymene was there, Ianeira and Ianassa, Maira and Orithyia and lovely-haired Amatheia, and the rest who along the depth of the sea were daughters of Nereus. The silvery cave was filled with these.” -Iliad 18.37-50

“To Nereus and to Doris ... there were born in the barren sea daughters greatly beautiful even among goddesses: Ploto and Eukrante and Amphitrite and Sao, Eudora and Thetis, and Galene and Glauke, Kymothoe and Speio, and Thoe and lovely Halia, Pasithea and Erato, Eunike of the rose arms, and graceful Melite and Eulimene and Agaue, Doto and Proto, Dynamene and Pherousa, Nesaie and Aktaie and Protomedeia, Doris and Panopeia, and Galateia the beautiful, Hippothoe the lovely and Hipponoe of the rose arms, Kymodoke who, with Kymatolege and Amphitrite, light of foot, on the misty face of the open water easily stills the waves and hushes the winds in their blowing. Kymo and Eione, Halimede of the bright garland, Glaukonome, the lover of laughter, and Pontoporeia, Leagore and Euagore and Laomedeia, Poulynoe and Autonoe and Lysianassa, Euarne of the lovely figure and face of perfection, Psamathe of the graceful form and shining Menippe, Neso and Eupompe, and Themisto and Pronoe, and Nemertes, whose mind is like that of her immortal father. These were the daughters born to irreproachable Nereus, fifty in all, and the actions they know are beyond reproach, also.” -Theogony 240-264 (50 names)

“Nereus and Doris were parents of the Nereides, whose names were Kymothoe, Speio, Glaukonome, Nausithoe, Halie, Erato (=Lovely), Sao, Amphitrite, Eunike, Thetis, Eulimene (=Good Harbour), Agaue, Eudore, Doto, Pherusa, Galateia, Aktaia, Pontomedusa (=Sea-queen), Hippothoe (=Horse-runner), Lysianassa, Kymo, Eione, Halimede, Plexaure, Eukrante, Proto, Kalypso, Panope, Kranto, Neomeris, Hipponoe (=Horse..), Ianeira, Polynome, Autonoe, Melite, Dione, Nesaia, Dero, Euagore, Psamathe, Eumolpe, Ione, Dynamene, Keto (=Sea-monster), Limnoreia.” -Apollodorus 1.11-12 (45 names)

“From Nereus and Doris fifty Nereids: Glauce, Thalia, Cymodoce, Nesaea, Spio, Thoe, Cymothoe, Actaea, Limnoria, Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe, Agaue, Doto, Proto, Pherusa, Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome, Calianassa, Doris, Panope, Galatea, Nemertes, Apseudes, Clymene, Ianira, Panopaea, Ianassa, Maera, Orithyia, Amsthia, Drymo, Xantho, Ligea, Phyllodoce, Cydippe, Lycoria, Cleio, Beroe, Ephyre, Opis, Asia, Deiopea, Arethusa, Clymene, Creneis, Eurydice, Leucothea.” -Hyginus Preface

“Lightly skims the dark-blue chariot [of Poseidon] over the sea’s face: .. then come his retainers .. on the left are Thetis and Melite and maiden Panopea, Nesaia, too, and Spio, Thalia and Kymodoke.” -Aeneid 5.825