Greek Mythology >> Nymphs >> Dryads >> Dryope


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Tree-Faced (dryas, ops)

DRYOPE was the Hamadryad- and Naiad-nymph of a poplar-tree and spring of Mount Oita (Oeta) in Dryopia (northern Greece).

Dryope was once a mortal princess who was seduced by the god Apollon in the guise of a tortoise and a serpent. She was later transformed into a nymph by the Hamadryades of Oita.

Dryope was similar to Penelopeia--a daughter of Dryops (Oak-Face) loved by the god Hermes. The tortoise was one of the god's sacred animals.


[1] DRYOPS & POLYDORE (Antoninus Liberalis 32)
[2] EURYTOS (Ovid Metamorphoses 9.325)


[1] AMPHISSOS (by Apollon) (Antoninus Liberalis 32, Ovid Metamorphoses 9.325)


DRY′OPE (Druopê), a daughter of king Dryops, or, according to others, of Eurytus. While she tended the flocks of her father on Mount Oeta, she became the playmate of the Hamadryades, who taught her to sing hymns to the gods and to dance. On one occasion she was seen by Apollo, who, in order to gain possession of her, metamorphosed himself into a tortoise. The nymphs played with the animal, and Dryope took it into her lap. The god then changed himself into a serpent, which frightened the nymphs away, so that he remained alone with Dryope. Soon after she married Andraemon, the son of Oxylus, but she became, by Apollo, the mother of Amphissus, who, after he had grown up, built the town of Oeta, and a temple to Apollo. Once, when Dryope was in the temple, the Hamadryades carried her off and concealed her in a forest, and in her stead there was seen in the temple a well and a poplar. Dryope now became a nymph, and Amphissus built a temple to the nymphs, which no woman was allowed to approach. (Ov. Met. ix. 325, &c.; Anton. Lib. 32; Steph. Byz. s. v. Druopê.) Virgil (Aen. x. 551) mentions another personage of this name.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 32 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Dryops (Oak-Face) was the son of the River Sperkheios (Spercheus) and of Polydore (Many-Gifts), one of the daughters of Danaos (Danaus). He was king in Oita (Oeta) and he had an only daughter, Dryope (Oak-Face). She herself herded the flocks of her father. Now, the Nymphai Hamadryades (Hamadryad Nymphs) were very much attached to her and made her their companion, teaching her to sing to the gods and to dance.
Apollon, seeing her dancing, felt an urge to couple with her. He first changed himself into a tortoise. Dryope, with the other Nymphai, was amused by it and they made a toy of the tortoise. She placed it in her bosom. He changed from a tortoise to a serpent.
The frightened Nymphai abandoned Dryope. Apollon coupled with her and she ran full of fear to her father's house, saying nothing to her parents. When Andraimon (Andraemon), son of Oxylos, later married her, she gave birth to Amphissos (Amphissus), the son of Apollon . . . He became the king of the places thereabouts.
In Dryopis he established a sanctuary of Apollon. One day, as Dryope was approaching the temple, the Nymphai Hamadryades gathered her up affectionately and hid her in the woods. In her place they caused a poplar to appear out of the ground. Beside it they made a spring to gush forth. Dryope was changed from mortal to Nymphe. Amphissos, in honour of the favour shown to his mother, set up a shrine to the Nymphai and was the first to inaugurate a foot-race there. To this day local people maintain this race. It is not holy for women to be present there because some maidens told local people that Dryope had been snatched away by Nymphai. The Nymphai were angry at this and turned the maidens into pines."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 330 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The loveliest girl of all Oechalis, dear Dryope, her mother's only child. He who rules Delphi and Delos [Apollon] assaulted her; Andraemon welcomed her, a maid no more, and he was counted lucky in his wife. There is a lake whose shelving sides had shaped a sloping shore, and myrtles crowned the ridge. There Dryope had come, not dreaming of fate's design, and, what must make you more indignant, bringing garlands for the Nymphae (Nymphs). The carried at her breast her little boy, a darling burden not twelvemonth old, and fed him with her milk.
Near the lakeside was a water-lotus flowered, its crimson blooms like Tyrian dye, fair hope of fruit to come. Dear Dryope picked a posy of these flowers to please her boy. I [Iole her half-sister] meant to do the same (for I was there), when I saw drops of blood drip from the blossoms of the boughs shiver in horror. For this shrub, you see (too late the peasants told us), was the Nymphe Lotis who fled Priapus's lechery and found changed features there but kept her name. Nothing of this my sister knew. She'd said prayers to the Nymphae (Nymphs) and now in terror tried to turn away and leave, but found her feet rooted. She fought to free herself, but failed to move below her bosom. Gradually up from the soil right round her legs and loins bark climbed and clung; and, seeing it, she tried to tear her hair, but found leaves filled her hand, leaves covered her whole head. Her little boy, Amphissos (Eurytos, his grandfather, had named him so) could feel his mother's breasts grow hard; the milky flow failed as he sucked. And I stood there, a helpless onlooker, watching her cruel fate. As best I could, I clasped my sister in my arms and stayed the growing trunk and boughs, and longed to see--yes, longed--the selfsame bark envelop me. And then in sore distress her husband came, Andraemon, and her father too to look for Dryope; for Dryope I showed the lotus there. Upon the still-warm wood they printed kisses; prostrate on the ground, they hugged their dear tree's roots, that darling tree.
Of my sweet sister naught that was not tree remained except her face. Her tears, poor soul, bedewed the leaves she'd grown; and, while she might, while lips would let words pass, her protests poured : ‘If misery can win belief, I swear by heaven I've not deserved this wickedness. Guiltless I'm punished; all my life has been innocent. If I lie, let all my leaves be parched and lost, let axes cut me down, let me be burnt. But take this baby from his mother's boughs and give him to a nurse, and see that often underneath my tree he takes milk and underneath my tree he often plays, and, when he's learnt to talk, see that he greets his mother, knows to say sadly "My mother hidden in this trunk." Let him beware of pools and never pick blossoms from trees, but fancy every bush a goddess in disguise. And now farewell dear husband, farewell sister, farewell father. Yet, if you love me, keep my foliage secure from wounding blades and browsing flocks. And, since I'm not allowed to bend to you, reach up to me and let me kiss you still while you can touch my lips, and lift my son, my little son, to me. And now no more! Over my snow-white throat the smooth rind creeps up to the crown I'm swathed. Let no hands touch my lids: without your service let the bark envelop in its shroud my dying eyes!’
Her words, her life, together ceased to flow; her changeling boughs long held her body's glow."





Other references not currently quoted here: Stephanus Byzantium s.v. Dryope.


A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.