There are thousands of myths, love stories and adventures where from the earliest sources nymphs are protagonists or supporting figures. The early Greeks saw in all the phenomena of ordinary nature, some manifestation of the deity; springs, rivers, grottoes, trees, the sea and mountains, all seemed to them fraught with life; and all were only the visible embodiments of so many divine agents.

The salutary and beneficent powers of nature were thus personified, and regarded as so many divinities; and the sensations produced on man in the contemplation of nature, such as awe, terror, joy, delight, were ascribed to the agency of the various divinities of nature.