|Nymphs of the
Island of Ithaca
THE NYMPHAI ITHAKIAI were the Naiad Nymphs of the springs of the island of Ithaka (Ithaca) in western Greece.
Perhaps ZEUS (Homer Odyssey 13.345)
Homer, Odyssey 13. 96 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"At the harbour-head [of Ithaka] is a long-leaved olive-tree; near this lies a twilit cave, a most lovely one, sacred to those Nymphai called Neiades [of the cavern's springs]; in it are bowls of stone and pitchers of stone; bees also store honey there; and then there are long looms of stone on which the Nymphai weave tissues of ocean-purple that ravish the gazing eye. There are streams there too that flow perpetually; and there are two entrances into it, a northern entrance that mortals may descend by and a southern one that belongs to the gods; by this no human being may enter; it is the pathway of the immortals."
Homer, Odyssey 13. 400 ff :
"You will find him [the swineherd Eumaios] sitting near the swine as they feed beside the rock Korakos (of the Raven) at the spring of Arethouse, drinking from the deep dark water there and fattening upon acorns."
Homer, Odyssey 13. 345 ff :
"[Athene to Odysseus:] ‘I will show you the shape of Ithaka . . . Here is the harbour sacred to the old sea-god Phorkys; here at the harbour head is the long-leaved olive tree; here is the vaulted cave where many a time you offered the Nymphai Neiades due sacrifice; and the slopes above you, forest-clad, are the slopes of Mount Neriton.’
So saying, the goddess dispelled the mist, and the land appeared.
At this, King Odysseus was filled with happiness, filled with joy that this land was his. He kissed the grain-giving soil of it, then prayed to the Nymphai with uplifted hands: ‘Nymphai Neiades, Maidens of Zeus (kourai dios), I had never thought to see you again. Receive forthwith my greeting, my loving prayers; afterwards I will offer gifts as well, just as of old.’"
Homer, Odyssey 17. 240 ff :
"[The goat-herd Melanthios insults the disguised Odysseus as he enters the town of Ithaka:] But the swineherd [Eumaios] looked Melanthios full in the face and called down a curse upon him. Lifting his hands he prayed aloud: ‘Nymphai Krenaiai (of the fountain), maidens of Zeus (kourai dios), if ever upon your altars Odysseus has made burnt-offerings from his young sheep and goats and covered the thigh-bones with rich fat, I beg you to grant this wish of mine: May that man [Odysseus] return, with a Daimon (Spirit) for a guide. And then, Melanthios, he would make short work of the airs and graces you flaunt here now.’"
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC