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Dryads (Δρυάδες, sing.: Δρυάς) are tree nymphs in Greek mythology. In Greek drys signifies 'oak,' from an Indo-European root *derew(o)- 'tree' or 'wood'. Thus Dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees,[1] though the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general. "Such deities are very much overshadowed by the divine figures defined through poetry and cult," Walter Burkert remarked of Greek nature deities.[2] They were normally considered to be very shy creatures, except around the goddess Artemis, who was known to be a friend to most nymphs.



The Dryad by Evelyn De Morgan.

The Dryad of ash trees were called the Meliai.[1] The ash-tree sisters tended the infant Zeus in Rhea's Cretan cave. Gaea gave birth to the Meliai after being made fertile by the blood of castrated Uranus. Nymphs associated with apple trees were Epimeliad, and walnut-trees Caryatids.[1]


Dryads, like all nymphs, were supernaturally long-lived and tied to their homes, but some were a step beyond most nymphs. These were the Hamadryads who were an integral part of their trees, such that if the tree died, the Hamadryad associated with it died as well. For these reasons, Dryads and the Greek gods punished any mortals who harmed trees without first propitiating the tree-nymphs.


Some of the individual Dryads or Hamadryads are:

Other works

Dryads are mentioned in Milton's Paradise Lost, in Coleridge, and in Thackeray's work The Virginians.[12] Keats addresses the nightingale as 'light-winged Dryad of the trees', in his Ode to a Nightingale. In the poetry of Donald Davidson they illustrate the themes of tradition and the importance of the past to the present.[13] The poet Sylvia Plath uses them to symbolize nature in her poetry in "On the Difficulty of Conjuring up a Dryad", and "On the Plethora of Dryads".[14]

In the ballet Don Quixote Dryads appear in a vision with Dulcinea before Don Quixote, they also appear in the classical ballet Sylvia

Dryads are also featured extensively throughout The Chronicles of Narnia by British author C.S. Lewis and are shown to fight along side Aslan, son of the Emperor-Over-The-Sea, and the Pevensie Children.

The same characters recur in David Eddings' The Belgariad, where Dryads live in seclusion on the Wood of the Dryads within the Tolnedran Empire and among the most prominent in the storyline is Ce'Nedra.

In the animated show Monster School, the character Rose Greendae is a dryad who can turn into a tree at will.

In the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, there is a dryad named Juniper who is the girlfriend of Grover Underwood.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Graves, ch. 86.2; p. 289
  2. ^ Burkert (1986), p174
  3. ^ Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 2. 1. 5
  4. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 480
  5. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.330 ff
  6. ^ Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 32
  7. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8. 4. 2
  8. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 39. 3
  9. ^ Propertius, Elegies 1. 18
  10. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2. 92 ff :
  11. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 32. 9
  12. ^ J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed (1989). "Dryad". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  13. ^ Martha E. Cook (1979). "Dryads and Flappers". The Southern Literary Journal (University of North Carolina Press) 12 (1): 18–26. JSTOR 20077624. 
  14. ^ Britzolakis, Christina (2000). Sylvia Plath and the theatre of mourning. Oxford English Monographs. Oxford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0198183739. 


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dryad — Dry ad, n. [L. dryas, pl. dryades, Gr. ?, pl. ?, fr. ? oak, tree. See {Tree}.] (Class. Myth.) A wood nymph; a nymph whose life was bound up with that of her tree. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dryad — 1550s, from L. dryas, from Gk. dryas (pl. dryades) wood nymph, from drus (gen. dryos) oak, from PIE *deru tree, wood, oak (see TREE (Cf. tree)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • dryad — [drī′ad΄, drī′əd] n. pl. dryads or dryades [drī′ə dēz΄] [L dryas (gen. dryadis) < Gr < drys, an oak, TREE] [also D ] Gr. & Rom. Myth. any of the nymphs living in trees; wood nymph dryadic [drī ad′ik] adj …   English World dictionary

  • DRYAD — This article is about the enciphering system. For other uses, see Dryad (disambiguation). The DRYAD Numeral Cipher/Authentication System (KTC 1400 D) is a simple, paper cryptographic system currently in use by the U.S. military for authentication …   Wikipedia

  • Dryad — A dryad is a naiad, or water nymph, with a towel. A naiad is inclined to be wet, whereas, once she has dried off, she becomes a dryad …   Dictionary of american slang

  • Dryad — A dryad is a naiad, or water nymph, with a towel. A naiad is inclined to be wet, whereas, once she has dried off, she becomes a dryad …   Dictionary of american slang

  • dryad — UK [ˈdraɪæd] / US [ˈdraɪˌæd] / US [ˈdraɪəd] noun [countable] Word forms dryad : singular dryad plural dryads in ancient Greek literature, a female spirit who lives in trees …   English dictionary

  • dryad — noun Etymology: Latin dryad , dryas, from Greek, from drys tree more at tree Date: 14th century wood nymph …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dryad — driada statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Erškėtinių (Rosaceae) šeimos augalų gentis (Dryas). atitikmenys: lot. Dryas angl. dryad; mountain avens vok. Silberwurz rus. дриада lenk. dębik …   Dekoratyvinių augalų vardynas

  • dryad — dryadic /druy ad ik/, adj. /druy euhd, ad/, n., pl. dryads, dryades / euh deez /. (often cap.) Class. Myth. a deity or nymph of the woods. Cf. hamadryad. [1545 55; extracted from Gk Dryádes, pl. of DRYÁS, deriv. of dry(s) tree, oak] * * * or …   Universalium

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