Dryads, the spirit-creatures that animate trees in greek mythology, are proof that no object, no matter how strange or inanimate, is safe from male lust. Dudes throughout history, whether clad in shimmering armor or a simple toga, have always been thinkin’ about the sex. There may be a rock that looks kind of like a breast or a particularly curvacious tree that reminds them of the fairer sex. It’s almost a testament to our imagination, and certainly a testament to the female form. If we can think of trees as housing some kind of sexual creature, what else are we capable of?

Just think of what the world would be like if we occupied our time a little more productively.

But I kid, guys aren’t really that perverse.

Everyone is.

*A note: I’ve used the word Dryad in the comic and the opening paragraph due to the connotations associated with the word “nymph” in modern sexual terminology. Dryads are specifically the spirits of oak trees, where as nymphs are general nature spirits. Just thought I’d let you know!*

Nymphs, the proper name for nature spirits that took on the shape of sexy young females, have long been a potent symbol in art and literature. Alongside the worship of the gods in Ancient Greece, there were small cults and worship rites that occurred throughout the Greek countryside to various nature spirits. This harkens back to the animist religions all people, at one time, practiced, and is reminiscent (though not as widely or powerfully performed) of the Shinto beliefs of Japan. Much like in Shintoism, particular minor deities or nymphs were limited in their worship by their locality. Obviously individuals from northern Greece would not be worshiping the ash nymph on a hill in southern greece! Unlike the gods themselves, these spirits were bound to a single object or place and, though they were mobile, they could never stray far from their home. Some tree nymphs were so inextricably bound to a tree that if it perished, so, too, would they.

The worship of and belief in nymphs and nature spirits is interesting considering the context of the major religion of Ancient Greece. It’s sort of funny that a religion consisting of so many important and diverse deities could still have room for anything else. Alongside the likes of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hephaestus, Hermes, Athena, Artemis, and all the rest, you’ve got this cadre of local spirits to deal with as well! Talk about a difficult religious world to navigate!

That said, it’s clear that these creatures served a purpose for the Ancient Greeks that the gods themselves could not. First, they were local, and as you can see in Boston on any Red Sox game day, people love the local team, sometimes to levels of irrationality. Where the Gods were remote, powerful, and relatively inaccessible, the nymphs and spirits resided right near by. They were a spiritual outlet with a local flavor, one that was easy to worship and seemed to be directly beneficial to those in the area. Second, they were clearly a complicated sexual concept for society to use in literature and storytelling. Third, they provided an air of legitimacy to various ancient rulers in certain Greek origin myths. The marriage of a man and a nymph (a divine spirit) was viewed as showing the gods’ favor upon that particular ruler and his line.

Nymphs could come in a variety of forms and be connected to a wide array of objects, anything from rocks to rivers to a cool shell you found on the beach. It is clear that no object was too ridiculous, too non-sexual for the Ancient Greeks to fantasize about.

At least they had the decency to make sure the spirits themselves looked like humans. I guess we can all be thankful for that.