Subject and Keywords:
This contribution aims at showing how a traditional list of namescould be varied by poets with the addition of new ones sharing thesame features, with a special focus on the Nereids’ names. A comparisonbetween the catalogue of Nereids in the Iliad (XVIII 39–49) and theone in the Theogony (Theog. 243–264) shows that whilst some namesare traditional and some others seem to be invented ad hoc, they allconvey relaxing images (sea, nature, beauty, or gifts for sailors). This listof names did not become a fixed one in later times either: inscriptionson vase-paintings of the 5th century preserve names different than theepic ones. Even Apollodorus (I 2, 7) gives a catalogue of Nereids derivedpartly from the Iliad and partly from the Theogony, with the additionof some names belonging to another group of deities (the Oceanids)and other forms unattested elsewhere but with the same features ofthe epic ones. A further comparison between a catalogue of Nymphsin the Georgics (IV 333–356) and its reception in the work of Higynusproves that adding new names to a traditional list is a feature not onlyof oral epic poetry, but also of catalogues composed in a literate culture.