Nymphs: Alseids

Alseids did not gather as much interest from classical authors and poets as did other nymphs; however, they were often referenced by their patron groves, such as in the below quote from Book X of The Odyssey.

After leaving Troy, Odysseus/Ulysses and his men drifted upon the sea, unable to return home to Ithaca, because of Poseidon’s curse. Poseidon was angered by Odysseus’ hubris in claiming a human victory over the Trojans. It was believed customary and prudent, by the ancient Greeks, to credit the Gods for such victories.

In their travels upon Poseidon’s wrathful sea, Odysseus and his men happened upon the island of Circè, sorceress and daughter of Helios and the Oceanid, Perse. Circè turns Odysseus’ men to swine, and when Odysseus searches for them, Circè attempts to transform Odysseus, too, but Odysseus has already been warned by Hermes of her magic. Odysseus had eaten of the plant Moly, prior to arriving at her palace. Moly would protect him from the sorceress’ magic. When Circe could not transform Odysseus, she seduced him, taking him into her bed.

For a year, Odysseus and his men stayed with Circè and her attendants, as the wanton deities pampered the men’s needs, making them forget time altogether . . .

Four diligent maidens ministered within

The Palace, –servants of the household they,

Who had their birth from fountains and from groves [Alseids],

And sacred rivers flowing to the sea.

One spread the thrones with gorgeous coverings;

Above was purple arras, and beneath

Were linen webs; another, setting forth

The silver tables just before the thrones,

Placed on them canisters of gold; a third

Mingled the rich wines in a silver bowl,

And placed the golden cups; and, last, the fourth

brought water from the fountain, and beneath

A massive tripod kindled a great fire

And warmed the water. When it boiled within

The shining brass, she led me to the bath,

And washed me from the tripod. On my head

And shoulders pleasantly she shed the streams

That from my members took away the sense

Of weariness, unmanning body and mind.

When finally Odysseus regained his senses and realized his time wasted upon the island, he forced Circè to help him find a way around Poseidon’s wrath and return home to Ithaca. Circè advised Odysseus to seek Tiresius in the Underworld, stating that Tiresius, the blind prophet, was the only guide who could help Odysseus return home.