MELIA was probably the Naiad Nymph of a fresh-water spring in the peninsular of Malea in Lakonia (southern Greece). She was loved by the old satyr-god Seilenos (Silenus) and bore him a son named Pholos, and perhaps the rest of the Pelopennesian Kentauroi (Centaurs0.
The stories of Thessalian and Peloponnesian Kentauroi were combined and confused. However the Peloponnesian myth centres on the tale of a Kentauros named Pholos whose brothers attacked Herakles while the two were drinking wine. He routed these, driving them to seek refuge with their parents, Seilenos and Melia, in the Malean peninsular.
The name Melia has a number of meanings. First she was Melia, the eponymous Nymphe of the Lakedaimonian peninsular of Malea (or Maleê), secondly she was the Nymphe of a honey-sweet (meli) fresh-water spring, and thirdly the Nymphe of the mountain-ash tree (melia) from which hunting spears were crafted.
Melia was probably identical to Nais, the Nymphe wife of Seilenos, whose springs watered the Malean towns of Pyrrhikhos and Teuthrone.
She was also closely identified with a Bithynian Nymphe Melia loved by the god 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 [Mount] Pholoe [in Arkadia] was entertained by the kentauros (centaur) Pholos, 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 (Driven Back) and Agrios (Hunter), 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) [N.B. probably Seilenos in the original myth], who, driven by the Lapithes from Mount Pelion, took up his abode at Malea [a detail invented to combine the myths]. As the kentauroi cowered about Kheiron [Seilenos], Herakles shot an arrow at them, which, passing through the arm of Elatos (Beaten), stuck in the knee of Kheiron [N.B. It was Pholos in the Peloponnesian account]. 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 [Pholos] 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 passage Kheiron is substituted for Seilenos and the kentauros (centaur) Pholos of Malea in an attempt to combine the Thessalian and Peloponnesian centaur-stories.]
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC