Nymphs of Hyperborea
THE NYMPHAI HYPERBOREIAI were three nymphs of the mythical, far northern realm of Hyperborea named Oupis, Loxo and Hekaerge. They were handmaidens of the goddess Artemis who were worshipped as demi-goddesses on the island of Delos. The nymphs presided over the varied skills of archery--aim (opsis), trajectory (loxos) and distancing (hekaergos).
FAMILY OF THE NYMPHS
[1.1] BOREAS (Callimachus, Hymn IV to Delos 292)
[1.1] OUPIS, LOXO, HEKAERGE (Callimachus Hymn 4.292, Nonnus Dionysiaca 48.330)
[1.2] OUPIS (Apollodorus 1.27)
[1.3] OPIS, ARGE (Olen Frag, Herodotus 4.35.1)
[1.4] AKHEIA (Olen Frag, Pausanias 5.7.8)
[1.5] OUPIS, HEKAERGE (Melanopus Frag, Pausanias 5.7.8)
HECAERGE (Hekaergê), a daughter of Boreas, and one of the Hyperborean maidens, who were believed to have introduced the worship of Artemis in Delos. (Callim. Hymn. in Del. 292; Paus. i. 43. § 4, v. 7. § 4; Herod. iv. 35.) The name Hecaerge signifies hitting at a distance; and it is not improbable that the story of the Hyperborean maiden may have arisen out of an attribute of Artemis, who bore the surname of Hecaerge. (Anton. Lib. 13.) Aphrodite had the same surname at Iulis in Cos. (Anton. Lib. 1.)
LOXO (Loxô), a daughter of Boreas, one of the Hyperborean maidens, who brought the worship of Artemis to Delos, whence it is also used as a surname of Artemis herself. (Callim. Hymn. in Del. 292; Nonnus, Dionys. v. p. 168; comp. Spanheim, ad Callim. l. c.)
UPIS (Oupis.) A Hyperborean maiden, who together with Arge carried an offering, which had been vowed for the birth of Apollo and Artemis, to Eileithyia, at Delos. (Herod. iv. 35.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Herodotus, Histories 4. 35. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The Delians relate that two virgins, Arge and Opis, came from the Hyperboreans by way of the aforesaid peoples to Delos earlier than Hyperokhe (Hyperoche) and Laodike (Laodice) [two other Hyperborean maids]; these latter came to bring to Eileithyia [the birth-goddess] the tribute which they had agreed to pay for easing child-bearing; but Arge and Opis, they say, came with the gods themselves [i.e. Apollon and Artemis], and received honors of their own from the Delians. For the women collected gifts for them, calling upon their names in the hymn made for them by Olen of Lykia; it was from Delos that the islanders and Ionians learned to sing hymns to Opis and Arge, calling upon their names and collecting gifts (this Olen, after coming from Lykia, also made the other and ancient hymns that are sung at Delos). Furthermore, they say that when the thighbones are burnt in sacrifice on the altar, the ashes are all cast on the burial-place of Opis and Arge, behind the temple of Artemis, looking east, nearest the refectory of the people of Keos (Ceos)."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 27 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Artemis shot him [the Giant Orion] as he was forcing his attention on Oupis (Upis), a virgin who had come from the Hyperboreoi (Hyperboreans)."
Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 292 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[On the offerings of the Hyperboreans delivered to the shrine of Apollon and Artemis on the island of Delos :] The first to bring thee these offerings from the fair-haired Arimaspoi [i.e. from the Hyperboreans] were Oupis (Upis) and Loxo and happy Hekaerge (Hecaerge), daughters of Boreas (the North-Wind), and those who then were the best of the young men. And they returned not home again, but a happy fate was theirs, and they shall never be without glorious. Verily the girls of Delos, when the sweet-sounding marriage hymn affrights the maiden's quarters, bring offerings of the maiden hair to the maidens, while the boys offer to the young men the first harvest of the down upon their cheeks."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 7. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Olen the Lykian [a semi-legendary poet], in his hymn to [the Hyperborean maiden] Akhaeia (Achaeia), was the first to say that from these Hyperboreoi (Hyperboreans) Akhaeia came to Delos. When Melanopos of Kyme composed an ode to Oupis (Upis) and Hekaerge (Hecaerge) declaring that these, even before Akhaeia, came to Delos from the Hyperboreoi."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 43. 4 :
"It is customary for the girls to bring libations to the tomb of Iphiaoe and to offer a lock of their hair before their wedding, just as the daughters of the Delians once cut their hair for Hekaerge (Hecaerge) and Oupis (Upis)."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 480 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"I [Aktaion (Actaeon)] climbed a tree to look on the Archeress's [Artemis'] body with bold eyes . . . The Naiades all shrieked together; Loxo cried aloud with Oupis (Upis) in concert, and checked her sister Hekaerge (Hecaerge) who was swimming in the calm stream."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 330 ff :
"The goddess [Artemis] leapt out of her car [to bathe in a river]; Oupis took the bow from her shoulders, and Hekaerge the quiver; the daughters of Okeanos(Oceanus) took off the well-strung hunting nets, and another took charge of the dogs; Loxo loosed the boots from her feet."
NAMES OF THE NYMPHS
Sighting (a target) (opsis)
Slanting (a shot) (loxos)
Striking from a Distance (hekaergos)
Distancing (a shot)
Greek Woman (akhaiiê, akhaia)
Support from Above (hyper, okhê)
Justice of the People (dikê, laos)
- Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.