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Tile mosaic of Pan and a hamadryad, found in Pompeii

A hamadryad or hamadryas (/hæməˈdr.æd/; Ancient Greek: ἁμαδρυάς, pl: ἁμαδρυάδες, romanizedHamadryás, pl: Hamadryádes[1]) is a Greek mythological being that lives in trees. It is a particular type of dryad which, in turn, is a particular type of nymph. Hamadryads are born bonded to a certain tree on which its life depends.[2][3] Some maintain that a hamadryad is the tree itself, with a normal dryad being simply the indwelling entity, or spirit, of the tree. If the tree should die, the hamadryad associated with it would die as well. For this reason, both dryads and the other gods would punish mortals who harmed trees.


The name of the hamadryades was compounded from the ancient Greek words háma (ἅμα, Doric: ἁμᾶ, "together, concurrently"[4][5]) and dryás (δρυάς, "tree, wood nymph"[6]). This informs the understanding that the life of a hamadryas is concurrent with that of its tree: one cannot exist without the other.

List of hamadryads[edit]

The Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus lists eight hamadryads, the daughters of Oxylus and Hamadryas:

Other hamadryads[edit]

Scientific names[edit]

The mother, Hamadryas, is immortalized in three scientific names, two of which are still valid: the generic name of the cracker butterfly, the specific name of the northernmost monkey in Asia Minor, the hamadryas baboon, and the original (but no longer valid) genus name of the king cobra (originally Hamadryas hannah, now Ophiophagus hannah). The cracker butterfly is more arboreal than most butterflies, as it commonly camouflages itself on trees. It feeds on sap, rotting fruit and dung. The hamadryas baboon is one of the least arboreal monkeys, but was the most common monkey in Hellenic lands. The king cobra is sometimes considered arboreal or semi-arboreal, and is also referred to by the common name "hamadryad", especially in older literature.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Rhodios, Apollonios; Seaton, Robert Cooper (1900). Argonautika 2.477 (in Greek). Clarendon Press. p. 80. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Ἁμαδρυάδες - Ancient Greek (LSJ)". Liddell, Scott, Jones Ancient Greek Lexicon. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  3. ^ John Bell (1790). Bell's New Pantheon; Or, Historical Dictionary of the Gods, Demi-gods, Heroes, and Fabulous Personages of Antiquity: Also, of the Images and Idols Adored in the Pagan World; Together with Their Temples, Priests, Altars, Oracles, Fasts, Festivals, Games ... J. Bell. pp. 366–7.
  4. ^ "ἅμα". Logeion. The University of Chicago. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  5. ^ "ἁμᾶ - Ancient Greek (LSJ)". Liddell, Scott, Jones Ancient Greek Lexicon. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Δρυάς". Logeion. The University of Chicago. Retrieved 26 July 2023.

See also[edit]