Who were the Oreads ?
In Greek mythology, the Oreads were nymphs. There were not goddesses since they were mortal, but they lived many thousands of years and were considered as nature spirits.
Kind and carefree, always exceptionally beautiful and graceful, the Oreads could make nature more fertile wherever they went : forests, valleys or mountains, rivers, ponds… They protected lovers, were sometimes healers and, like the muses, they inspired men.
Huntresses, but also childish, emotional and, sensuous, they were able to die of love.The Oreads, and nymphs in general, were most of the time shown naked or half- naked and represented the ideal woman.
The Oreads : the legend of Echo and Narcissus
Echo was the most famous of the Oreads. The goddess Hera punished Echo by condemning her to being able to repeat only the last syllables of words addressed to her. One day, she fell in love with the famous Narcissus who spurned her, which killed her. It was said that she was turned into rock.
But Echo took her revenge and made sure that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and sank into madness.
In the Alchemist, Paolo Coelho speaks about Narcissus, the Oreads… and about a lake
‘ »Narcissus was a beautiful young man who used to contemplate his own beauty in the water of a lake. He was so fascinated by his own reflection that one day he fell into the lake and was drowned. And a flower appeared at this very place called narcissus.
But Oscar Wilde did not end the story this way.
He said that when Narcissus died, the Oreads, the nymphs of the forests, had come to the shore of this fresh- water lake and found it turned into an urn of bitter tears.
« Why are you crying? the Oreads asked.
– I am crying for Narcissus, the lake answered.
– This is no surprise for us, they said. However much we chased him in the woods, you were the onlyone who was able to contemplate his beauty.
– So was Narcissus beautiful? the lake asked.
– Who better than you could know that? the Oreads answered with surprise. Are we not right in thinking that each day it was on your shores that he knelt down to bend over the waters?
The lake remained silent, and then said,
« I am crying for Narcissus, but I did not realize that Narcissus was beautiful. I am crying for Narcissus because each time he bent over at my water’s edge, I could see the reflection of my own beauty deep inside his eyes. »
A charming legend, isn’t it, for the Oréades Domaine, located exactly by the Lake at Sanguinet ?