Greek Mythology >> Nymphs >> Meliae >> Melia


Greek Name

Μελια Μελιη


Melia, Meliê

Latin Spelling



Honey-Sweet, Ash-Tree

MELIA was the Melian-nymph of an ash-tree, or the Naiad-nymph of a spring, on the Lakonian peninsular of Malea (southern Greece). She was the mother by Seilenos (Silenus) of the kentauros Pholos (centaur Pholus) and, probably, the other Peloponnesian Kentauroi (Centaurs).

The mythology of the Thessalian and Peloponnesian Kentauroi was often conflated and confused. The main Peloponnesian story, however, tells the tale of the kentauros Pholos who entertained Herakles with wine. When the rest of the kentauroi attacked, the hero routed them, sending them fleeing back to their parents on the Malean peninsular.

Melia's name contains several layers of meaning which define her role--she was the eponymous nymph of the Lakonian peninsular of Malea (or Maleê), the Naiad-nymph of a "honey-sweet" (Greek meli) fresh-water spring, and the nymph of an ash-tree (Greek melia) whose wood was used for the crafting spears.

Melia was probably identical to Nais, the Naiad-nymph wife of Seilenos who possesed a spring near the Malean towns of Pyrrhikhos and Teuthrone. She was probably also identified with the Bithynian Nymphe Melia loved by the same god.


Probably a local River-God or the parentage of the MELIAI


[1.1] PHOLOS (by Seilenos) (Apollodorus 2.83-87)
[1.2] Perhaps THE KENTAUROI PELOPONNESIOI (by Seilenos)


ME′LIA (Melia), a nymph. By Seilenus she became the mother of the centaur, Pholus (Apollod. ii. 5. § 4).

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 5. 4 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Herakles] passing through Pholoe [in Arkadia] was entertained by the kentauros Pholos (centaur Pholus), a son of Seilenos (Silenus) by a Melias [Melian or Malean] Nymphe. He set roast meat before Herakles, while he himself ate his meat raw. When Herakles called for wine, he said he feared to open the jar which belonged to the Kentauroi (Centaurs) in common. But Herakles, bidding him be of good courage, opened it, and not long afterwards, scenting the smell, the centaurs arrived at the cave of Pholos, armed with rocks and firs. The first who dared to enter, Ankhios (Anchius) and Agrios (Agrius), were repelled by Herakles with a shower of brands, and the rest of them he shot and pursued as far as Malea.
Thence they took refuge with Kheiron (Chiron), who, driven by the Lapithes from Mount Pelion, took up his abode at Malea. As the kentauroi cowered about Kheiron, Herakles shot an arrow at them, which, passing through the arm of Elatos (Elatus), stuck in the knee of Kheiron. Distressed at this, Herakles ran up to him, drew out the shaft, and applied a medicine which Kheiron gave him. But the hurt proving incurable, Kheiron retired to the cave and there he wished to die, but he could not, for he was immortal. However, Prometheus offered himself to Zeus to be immortal in his stead, and so Kheiron died. The rest of the kentauroi fled in different directions, and some came to Mount Malea, and Eurytion to Pholoe, and Nessos to the river Euenus."
[N.B. In this second half of this passage the centaur Kheiron is substituted for Seilenos and Pholos in an attempt to combine the otherwise distinct Thessalian and Peloponnesian centaur-myths.]




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