NEDA was the Okeanid Naiad Nymph of the river Neda near Mount Lykaios (Lycaeus) in Arkadia (southern Greece). Along with her sisters Theisoa and Hagno she nursed the infant Zeus after his birth.
OKEANOS (Callimachus Hymn to Zeus 30)
NEDA (Neda), an Arcadian nymph, from whom the river Neda and also a town (Steph. Byz. s. v.) derived their name. She was believed, conjointly with Theisoa and Hagno, to have nursed the infant Zeus (Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 38; Paus. viii. 38. § 3). In a Messenian tradition Neda and Ithome were called nurses of Zeus (Paus. iv. 33. § 2). She was represented at Athens in the temple of Athena. (Paus. viii. 47. § 2.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Lifting her great arm she [Rhea] smote the mountain [Mount Ithome] with her staff; and it was greatly rent in twin for her and poured forth a mighty flood. Therein, O Lord, she cleansed thy [the baby Zeus'] body; and swaddled thee, and gave thee to Neda to carry within the Kretan (Cretan) covert, that thou mightst be reared secretly: Neda, eldest of the Nymphai who then were about her bed, earliest birth after Styx and Philyre. And no idle favour did the goddess repay her, but named that stream Neda; which, I ween, in great flood by the very city of the Kaukonians, which is called Lepreion, mingles its stream with Nereus, and its primeval water do the son's sons of the Bear, Lykaon's daughter [Kallisto] drink.
When the Nymphe [Neda], carrying thee, O Father Zeus, toward Knosos Zeus [to hand over to his protectors and nurses in Krete], was leaving Thenai--for Thenai was nigh to Knosos (Cnossus)--even then, O God, thy navel fell away: hence that plain the Kydonians call the Plain of the Navel. But thee, O Zeus, the companion of Kyrbantes [Curetes] took to their arms, even the Diktaian Meliai [i.e. the Melian nymphs of Mount Dicte], and Adrasteia laid thee to rest in a cradle of gold [Neda handed the baby Zeus over to these to care for him], and thou didst suck the rich teat of she-goat Amaltheia."
Strabo, Geography 8. 3. 22 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The stream of the Neda is the boundary between Triphylia and Messenia, an impetuous stream that comes down from Lykaios (Lycaeus), an Arkadian mountain, out of a spring, which, according to the myth, Rhea, after she had given birth to Zeus, caused to break forth in order to have water to bathe in."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 33. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"It is a hopeless task to enumerate all the poples who claim that Zeus was born and brought up among them. The Messenians have their share in the story: for they too say that the god was brought up among them and that his nurses were Ithome and Neda, the river having received its name from the latter, while the former, Ithome, gave her name to the mountain. These Nymphai are said to have bathed Zeus here, after he was stolen by the Kouretes (Curetes) owing to the danger that threatened from his father [Kronos], and it is said that it [i.e. the fountain Klepsydra (Water-theft) on Mount Ithome in Messenia] has its name from the Kouretes' theft."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 31. 4 :
"[At Megalopolis in the enclosure of Demeter and Persephone:] The table also has a representation of Nymphai, Neda carrying the infant Zeus and another Arkadian Nymphe Anthrakia holding a torch, and Hagno with a water-jar in one hand and a drinking cup in the other; Ankhiroe and Myrtoessa are carrying water-jars and in fact water is pouring down from them."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 38. 2 :
"There is a place on Mount Lykaios (Lycaeus) called Kretea (Cretea) [in Arkadia] . . . The Arkadians claim that the Krete (Crete), where the Kretan story has it that Zeus was reared, was this place and not the island. The Nymphai, by whom they say that Zeus was reared, they call Theisoa, Neda and Hagno . . . From Neda the river Neda takes its name; from Hagno a spring on Mount Lykaios, which like the Danube flows with an equal volume of water in winter just as in the season of summer. Should a drought persist for a long time, and the seeds in the earth and the trees wither, then the priest of Zeus Lykaion, after praying towards the water and making the usual sacrifices, lowers an oak branch to the surface of the spring, not letting it sink deep. When the water has been stirred up there rises a vapour, like mist; after a time the mist becomes cloud, gathers to itself other clouds, and makes rain fall on the land of the Arkadians."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 41. 1 :
"A river called the Lymax flowing just beside Phigalia falls into the Neda, and the river, they say, got its name from the cleaning of Rhea. For when she had given birth to Zeus, the Nymphai who cleansed her after her travail threw the refuse into this river. Now the ancients called refuse [afterbirth] lymata . . .
The source of the Neda is on Mount Kerausios (Cerausius), which is a part of Mount Lykaios (Lycaeus). At the place where the Neda approaches nearest to Phigalia the boys of the Phigalians cut off their hair in honour of the river. Of all known rivers the Maiandros (Meander) descends with the most winding course, which very often turns back and then bends round once more; but the second place for its twistings should be given to the Neda."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 47. 3 :
"Represented on the altar [of Athene at Tegea, Arkadia] are Rhea and the Nymphe Oinoe holding the baby Zeus. On either side are four figures: on one, Glauke, Neda, Theisoa and Anthrakia; on the other Ide, Hagno, Alkinoe and Phrixa."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 20. 2 :
"The springs of Neda are on Mount Lykaion; the river passes through Arkadia, turns back into Messenia and divides the coastal territories of Messenia and Elis."
- Callimachus, Hymns - Greek C3rd BC
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st BC - C1st AD
- Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD