Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Μελια Μελιη Melia, Meliê Melia Sweet, Honey (meli)
Ισμενη Ismenê Ismene Knowing (ismê)
MELIA was the Okeanid Nymph of the famed Ismenian spring and stream of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece). She was loved by the god Apollon, who slew her brother Kaanthos (Caanthus) in the contest for her love. She bore him two sons, Ismenos and Teneros, prophetic priests of the oracular Ismenion shrine.

Melia as the goddess of the Ismenian spring appears in two alternative traditions as Melia and Ismene ancestresses of Kadmos the founder of Thebes.

[1.1] OKEANOS (Pindar Paean 1; Pausanias 9.10.5)
[1.1] TENEROS (by Apollon) (Pindar Paean 1, Strabo 9.2.34)
[1.2] ISMENOS, TENEROS (by Apollon) (Pausanias 9.10.5, 9.26.1)


ME′LIA (Melia), a nymph, a daughter of Oceanus. She was carried off by Apollo, and became by him the mother of Ismenius (some call her own brother Ismenus, Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. xi. 5; Tzetz. ad Lyc. 1211), and of the seer Tenerus. She was worshipped in the Apollinian sanctuary, the Ismenium, near Thebes. (Paus. ix. 10. § 5, 26, § 1; Strab. p. 413. )

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

Pindar, Pythian Ode 11 str1 - ant1 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The shrine of Melia [at Thebes], to the treasure-house of golden tripods, the temple that above all others Apollon held in honour, and he named it the Ismenion (Ismenium), the seat of prophecy that known no lie."

Pindar, Paean 9 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"By some might divine have I been prompted, hard by the immortal couch of Melia, to compose, for your sake, a noble strain with my flute . . . Thine oracular shrine, Apollon; there it was that Melia, the daughter of Okeanos, wedded to thy couch, O Pythian god, bare mighty Teneros, the chosen interpreter of thy decrees."

Pindar, Fragment 29 :
"Shall we sing of Ismenos, or of Melia with her golden distaff . . . or Thebe with her purple snood."

Corinna, Fragment 2 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C5th B.C.) :
"[Verse of Pindar:] Gold-distaffed (khrysalakatos) Melia."


Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 34 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Teneric Plain [in Boiotia] is named after Teneros. In myth he was the son of Apollon by Melia, and was a prophet of the oracle on the Ptoüs Mountain, which the same poet calls three-peaked: ‘and once he took possession of the three-peaked hollow of Ptoüs.’ And he calls Teneros ‘temple minister, prophet, called by the same name as the plains.’"

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 10. 4-5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"By this fountain [the Ismenian Spring in Thebes, above the sanctuary of Apollon Ismenios] is the grave of Kaanthos (Caanthus). They say that he was brother to Melia and son to Okeanos (Oceanus), and that he was commissioned by his father [Okeanos] to seek his sister, who had been carried away. Finding that Apollon had Melia, and being unable to get her from him, he dared to set fire to the precinct of Apollon that is now called the sanctuary of Ismenios. The god, according to the Thebans, shot him. Here then is the tomb of Kaanthos. They say that Apollon had sons by Melia, to wit, Teneros and Ismenos. To Teneros Apollon gave the art of divination, and from Ismenos the river got its name. Not that the river was nameless before, if indeed it was called Ladon before Ismenos was born to Apollon."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 26. 1 :
"On the right of the sanctuary [of the Kabeiroi near Thebes in Boiotia] is a plain named after Teneros the seer, whom they hold to be a son of Apollon by Melia."


  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD