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The Hamadryads were tree Nymphs. They were born with the trees they protected, and shared their fate. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Delos, told of an oak Nymph's anguish for her tree, which had just been struck by lightning. The Nymphs were said to have rejoiced when the trees were watered by the rain from Heaven, and to have grieved when they shed their leaves. It was even maintained that they died at the same time at their trees. They were considered to be intermediate entities between Mortals and Immortals. They lived for a very long time - ten 'palm tree lives', or nine thousand seven hundred and twenty years.

Some legends preserve the memory of Hamadryads who had entreated some hero or another to save their trees (see RHOECUS, and CHRYOPELIA). Other legends told of the punishments visited on men who had shown contempt for a Nymph's prayers and cut down her tree (see ERYSICHTHON).

For a later legend concerning the origin of the Hamadryads, see OXYLUS 3.


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