MELISSA

ΜΕΛΙΣΣΑ

That is, the soother or propitiator (from melissô or meilissô), occurs,

1. 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, melissai (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iv. 104.) 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. (Schol. ad Pind. 1. c. ; Hesych. s. v. Orodemniades; Columell. ix. 2; Schol. (ad Theocrit. iii. 13.) Hence also nymphs in the form of bees are said to have guided the colonists that went to Ephesus (Philostr. Icon. ii. 8) ; and the nymphs who nursed the infant Zeus are called Melissae, or Meliae. (Anton. Lib. 19; Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 47; Apollod. i. 1. § 3.)

2. From the nymphs the name Melissae was transferred to priestesses in general, but more especially to those of Demeter (Schol. ad Pind. l.c.; Callim. Hymn. in Apoll. 110; Hesych. s. v. Melissai), Persephone (Schol. ad Theocrit. xv. 94), and to the priestess of the Delphian Apollo. (Pind. Pyth. iv. 106; Schol. ad Eurip. Hippol. 72.) According to the scholiasts of Pindar and Euripides, priestesses received the name Melissae from the purity of the bee. Comp. a story about the origin of bees in Serv. ad Aen. i. 434.

3. Melissa is also a surname of Artemis as the goddess of the moon, in which capacity she alleviates the suffering of women in childbed. (Porphyr. De Antr. Nymp,. p. 261.)

4. A daughter of Epidamnus, became by Poseidon the mother of Dyrrhachius, from whom the town of Dyrrhachium derived its name. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Durhrhachion.)