THE HAMADRYADES were eight Dryad nymph daughters of the forest spirit Oxylos ("Of the Forest") and Hamadryas ("With the Tree"), who inhabited Mount Oita in Phthiotis.
Each of the eight nymphs presided over a particularly type of tree:--
Aigeiros was the nymph of the black poplar (Populus nigra);
Ampelos the nymph of the vine, including the wild grape (Vitis silvestris), bryony (Bryonia creticus), black bryony (Tamus communis) and the wrack (Fucus volubilis).
Balanis the nymph of acorn-bearing trees such as the holm (Quercus ilex) and prickly-cupped (Quercus aegilops) oaks;
Karya the nymph of the nut tree, both the hazel (Corylus avellana) and walnut (Juglans regia), and possibly also the sweet chestnut (Castanea vesca);
Kraneia the nymph of the cornelian cherry tree (Cornus mas);
Morea the nymph of the mulberry tree (Morus nigra) or else the wild olive;
Ptelea the nymph of the European elm (Ulmus glabra);
and Syke the nymph of the fig tree (Ficus carica).
The parents of the Hamadryades, Oxylos and Hamadryas, may also have presided over specific trees, for oxua in Greek sometimes refers to the beech tree (Fagus silvatica), and drus the holm oak (Quercus ilex).
[1.1] OXYLOS & HAMADRYAS (Pherenicus Frag, Athenaeus 78b)
[1.2] OXYLOS (Antoninus Liberalis 32)
|KARYA, BALANOS, KRANEIA, MOREA, AIGEIROS, PTELEA, AMPELOS, SYKE (Athenaeus 78b)
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 1. 78a (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"The Epic poet Pherenikos, a Herakleto by birth, declares that the fig (Sykon) was named from Syke (Fig-Tree), the daughter of Oxylos (Thick with Woods); for Oxylos, son of Oreios (Mountain), married his sister Hamadryas (Oak-Tree) and begot among others, Karya (Nut-Tree), Balanos (Acorn-Tree), Kraneia (Cornel-Tree), Morea (MulberryTree), Aigeiros (Black Poplar-Tree), Ptelea (Elm-Tree), Ampelos (Vines), and Syke (Fig-Tree); and these are called Nymphai Hamadryades, and from them many trees derive their names. Hence, also, he adds, Hipponax says: ‘The black fig-tree (syke), sister of the vine (ampelos).’"
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 32 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Dryops (Oak Face) was the son of the River Sperkheios and of Polydore (Many Gifts), one of the daughters of Danaos. He was king in Oeta and he had an only daughter, Dryope (Oak Face). She herself herded the flocks of her father. Now, the Nymphai Hamadryades [N.B. probably the daughters of Oxylos] were very much attached to her and made her their companion, teaching her to sing to the gods and to dance.
Apollon, seeing her dancing, felt an urge to couple with her. He first changed himself into a tortoise. Dryope, with the other Nymphai, was amused by it and they made a toy of the tortoise. She placed it in her bosom. He changed from a tortoise to a serpent.
The frightened Nymphai abandoned Dryope. Apollon coupled with her and she ran full of fear to her father’s house, saying nother to her parents. When Andraimon, son of Oxylos, later married her, she gave birth to Amphissos, the son of Apollon . . . He became the king of the places thereabouts.
In Dryopis he established a sanctuary of Apollon. One day, as Dryope was approaching the temple, the Nymphai Hamadryades gathered her up affectionately and hid her in the woods. In her place they caused a poplar to appear out of the ground. Beside it they made a spring to gush forth. Dryope was changed from mortal to Nymphe. Amphissos, in honour of the favour shown to his mother, set up a shrine to the Nymphai and was the first to inaugurate a foot-race there. To this day local people maintain this race. It is not holy for women to be present there because wo maidens told local people that Dryope had been snatched away by Nymphai. The Nymphai were angry at this and turned the maidens into pines."
||Black Poplar Tree
||Vine or Grapevine
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.