That is, the soother or propitiator (from μελισσω, melissō, or μειλίσσω, meilissō), occurs as the name of a nymph who discovered and taught the use of honey, and from whom bees were believed to have received their name, μέλισσαι (melissai).1

Bees seem to have been the symbol of nymphs, whence they themselves are sometimes called melissae, and are sometimes said to have been metamorphosed into bees.2 Hence also nymphs in the form of bees are said to have guided the colonists that went to Ephesus;3 and the nymphs who nursed the infant Zeus are called melissae, or meliae.4



  1. Scholiast on Pindar's Pythian Odes iv, 104.
  2. Scholiast on Pindar, l.c.; Hesychius, s.v. Orodemniades; Columella, ix, 2; Scholiast on Theocritus, iii, 13.
  3. Philostratus of Lemnos. Imagines ii, 8.
  4. Antoninus Liberalis, 19; Callimachus. Hymn to Zeus, 47; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 1.3.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.