Of the Corycian Cave
THE NYMPHAI KORYKIAI (Corycian Nymphs) were the Naiad-nymphs of the sacred Korykian cave by the oracle of Delphoi in Phokis (central Greece).
FAMILY OF THE NYMPHS
[1.1] Perhaps PLEISTOS (Aeschylus Eumenides 20)
[1.2] PLEISTOS (Apollonius Rhodius 2.710)
[1.1] Possibly KLEODORA, KORYKIA, MELAINA, KASTALIA, DAPHNIS, MELIA
CORY′CIA (Kôrukia or Kôrukis), a nymph, who became by Apollo the mother of Lycorus or Lycoreus, and from whom the Corycian cave in mount Parnassus was believed to have derived its name. (Paus. x. 6. § 2, 32. § 2.) The plural, Coryciae, is applied to the daughters of Pleistus. (Apollon. Rhod. ii. 710; Ov. Met. i. 320, Heroid. xx. 221.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Aeschylus, Eumenides 20 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[The Pythia, prophetess of the oracle of Delphoi, speaks :] ‘These are the gods I place in the beginning of my prayer [Gaia, Themis, Phoibe (Phoebe) and Apollon] . . . and I worship [also] the Nymphai (Nymphs) where the Korykian (Corycian) rock is hollow, the delight of birds and haunt of gods. Bromios [Dionysos] has held the region--I do not forget him . . . I call on the streams of Pleistos (Pleistus) and the strength of Poseidon, and highest Zeus.’"
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 710 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"And he [Orpheus] sang to them [the Argonauts] of the daughters of Pleistos (Pleistus), the Korykian Nymphai (Corycian Nymphs), who had encouraged the god [i.e. Apollon in his battle against the serpent Python] by their repeated cry of ‘Healer’. ‘That,’ he told them, ‘is the origin of the beautiful refrain with which you have been hymning Phoibos (Phoebus).’"
Callimachus, Aetia Fragment 3. 1 (from Oxyrhynchus Papyri 7) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"This we heard from old Xenomedes, who once enshrined all the island [of Keos (Ceos)] in a mythological history : beginning with the tale of how it was inhabited by the Nymphai Korykiai (Corycian Nymphs) whom a great lion drave from Parnassos (Parnassus) : wherefore also they called it Hydrussa . . . Keos (Ceos), son of Phoibos (Phoebus) [Apollon] and Melia, caused it [Hydrussa] to take another name [Keos]." [N.B. Melia is presumably one of the Korykiai.]
Strabo, Geography 9. 3. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The whole of [mount] Parnassos is esteemed as sacred [to Apollon], since it has caves and other places that are held in honor and deemed holy. Of these the best known and most beautiful is Korykion (Corycian), a cave of the Nymphai (Nymphs) bearing the same name as that in Kilikia (Cilicia) [in southern Anatolia]."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 32. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Korykion (Corycian) cave exceeds in size those I have mentioned, and it is possible to make one’s way through the greater part of it even without lights. The roof stands at a sufficient height from the floor, and water, rising in part from springs but still more dripping from the roof, has made clearly visible the marks of drops on the floor throughout the cave. The dwellers around Parnassos (Parnassus) believe it to be sacred to the Nymphai Korkykiai (Corycian Nymphs), and especially to Pan."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 6. 1 :
"They say that the oldest city was founded here [at Delphoi] by Parnassos (Parnassus), a son of Kleodora (Cleodora), a Nymphe [presumably one of the Korykiai]. Like the other heroes, as they are called, he had two fathers; one they say was the god Poseidon, the human father being Kleopompos (Cleopompus). After this Parnassos were named, they say, both the mountain and also the Parnassian glen. Augury from flying birds was, it is said, a discovery of Parnassos. Now this city, so the story goes on, was flooded by the rains that fell in the time of Deukalion (Deucalion). Such of the inhabitants as were able to escape the storm were led by the howls of wolves to safety on the top of Parnassos, being led on their way by these beasts, and on this account they called the city that they founded Lykoreia (Lycoreia, Wolf-city).
Another and different legend is current that Apollon had a son Lykoros (Lycorus) by a Nymphe, Korykia (Corycia), and that after Lykoros was named the city Lykoreia, and after the Nymphe the Korykian cave. It is also said that Kelaino (Celaeno) was daughter to Hyamos (Hyamus), son of Lykoros, and that Delphos (Delphus), from whom comes the present name of the city, was a son of Kelaino, daughter of Hyamos, by Apollon.
Others maintain that Kastalios (Castalius) (of the Kastalian spring), an aboriginal, had a daughter Thyia, who was the first to be priestess of Dionysos and celebrate orgies in honor of the god. It is said that later on men called after her Thyiades all women who rave in honor of Dionysos. At any rate they hold that Delphos was a son of Apollon and Thyia. Others say that his mother was Melaina (Melaena) [probably another Korykian nymph], daughter of Kephisos (Cephisus)."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 318 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"There a great mountain aims towards the stars its double peak, Parnasus, soaring high above the clouds; and there [i.e. during the Great Deluge that destroyed mankind] Deucalion, borne on a raft, with his dear wife [Pyrrha] beside, had grounded; all elsewhere the deluge whelmed. Praise and thanksgiving to the Mountain Gods (Numina Montis) and the Nymphae Corycidae (Corycian NYmphs) they gave, and to the prophetess, Themis, then guardian of the oracle."
Ovid, Heroides 20. 221 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"An isle once thronged by the Corycian Nymphae (Nymphs) is girdled by the Aegean sea; its name is Cea."
- Aeschylus, Eumenides - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.