Mythical Creatures Series
Dryads are female spirits of nature who live in individual trees, unseen by humans unless they want to be seen. Be cautious of what trees you chop or harm, for if a dryad lives in one, prepare to face the wrath of a Greek god.
What is it?
Dryads are wood or forest nympths from Greek mythology. They are carefree maidens who live in wooded areas; peaceful and shy. There are a few different dryads including:
– The Meliai who were tied ash trees.
– The Oreiades were the Nymphs of the mountain conifers.
– The Maliades were Nymphai of apple and other fruit trees.
– The Daphnaie were Nymphs of the laurel trees.
– Then there were the hamadryads who were always associated with a particular tree and it is these nymphs who live within the tree itself. So whatever befell the tree also befell the hamadryad. The gods would seek revenge against anyone who brought harm to a hamadryad. So, if you chop down such a tree, you will hear it screaming.
In Greek drys signifies ‘oak,’ from an Indo-European root *derew(o)- ‘tree’ or ‘wood’. Thus Dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees, though the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general.
Beautiful and mostly female.
They are protectors of the woods and creatures who live there. Each dryad has one tree that she is closely linked to it. When the tree died, the dryad passed away. This was because they were somewhere between a mortal and god.
During the night, they are known to come out and frolic in the woods.
Devout members of society were known to make offerings to appease or thank dryads when they needed to harvest trees or branches.
Appearances In Culture
- Dryads are mentioned in Milton’s Paradise Lost, in Coleridge, and in Thackeray’s work The Virginians. Keats addresses the nightingale as ‘light-winged Dryad of the trees’, in his Ode to a Nightingale. In thepoetry of Donald Davidson they illustrate the themes of tradition and the importance of the past to the present. 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”.
- 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.
Did you know? The dryad was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
Previous Mythical Creature Posts:
Marchosias, Ningyo, Abatwa, Cait Sith, Anka, Huldra, iele, Manticore, Hantu Demon, Lich, Joan The Wad, Fomorian, Rakshasa, Hellhound, Sleipnir, Three-Legged Crow, Afanc, Tarasque, Echidna, Alkonost, Landvaettir, Hippocampus, Cockatrice, Shedu