Return of Hephaestus to Olympus, with Dionysos, a silen and a nymph. Side A of an Attic red-figure pelike, 440–430 B.C.
PD Courtesy of Bibi Saint-Pol
The Nymphs of Nysa raised the infant Dionysus on Mt. Nysa. Later on, they became his followers. They appear in the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus
. Unlike the human Maenads, another group of female followers of Dionysus, the nymphs follow him willingly and without madness. (The Maenads are the deluded women who thought the human Pentheus was a wild beast and tore him to pieces in the Bacchae
tragedy.) The Nymphs of Nysa may have accompanied Dionysus and the sileni
during the Return of Hephaestus
. Nymphs appear on art either clothed or nude, on intimate terms with the sileni
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From the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus
"The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet- smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry."