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In Greek mythology, the Meliae (or Meliai) (/ˈmliˌi/; Ancient Greek: Μελίαι Meliai or Μελιάδες Meliades) were usually considered to be the nymphs of the ash tree, whose name they shared.[1] According to Hesiod, the Meliae (probably meaning all tree-nymphs) were born from the drops of blood that fell on Gaia [Earth] when Cronus castrated Uranus.[2] In Hesiod's Works and Days, the ash trees, perhaps meaning the Melian nymphs, are said to have been the progenitors of the generation of men belonging to Hesiod's Bronze Age.[3]

The Meliae were nurses of the infant Zeus in the Cretan Dikti mountains, according to the 3rd century BC poet Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus, where they fed him on the milk of the goat Amalthea and honey.[4]

Callimachus, appears to make the Theban nymph Melia, who was, by Apollo, the mother of Tenerus and Ismenus, one of the "earth-born" Meliae.[5] Elsewhere, however, this Melia is an Oceanid, one of the many daughters of Oceanus and Tethys.[6]


  1. ^ Caldwell, p. 38 n. 178–187: "The nymphs called Meliai are properly "ash-tree" nymphs; the Greek word for ash-trees is meliai also", and according to Larson, p. 29: "most commentators agree" that "the Meliai are ash-tree nymphs", although according to West, p. 221 n. 187 Μελίας, in Callimachus, Hymn 4—To Delos 79–85, and Nonnus' Dionysiaca, and probably in Hesiod as well, the Meliae are simply "tree-nymphs, probably without distinction of the particular kind of tree".
  2. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 182–187; West, p. 221 n. 187 Μελίας; Hard, p. 209.
  3. ^ Hesiod, Works and Days 140–155 (Evelyn-White): "Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees [meliai]", here interpreting meliai as the common noun ash-trees, as did Eustathius. However Proclus thought it meant ash-tree nymphs (see Evelyn-White's note; Larson, p. 29), cf. Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 4.1641–1642, which makes it simply "ash-trees". According to Most, p. 19 n. 9, "It is unclear what exactly the relation is between the Melian nymphs, the ash trees with which they are closely associated, and human beings, who may have originated from one or the other of these".
  4. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 1—To Zeus 42–50.
  5. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 4—To Delos 79–85; Hesiod, Theogony 187; Larson, p. 142.
  6. ^ Pindar, Paean 9 fr. 52k 38–46; Pausanias, 9.10.5, 6, 9.26.1; Larson, pp. 40–41, 142.


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