Nymph. Roman; bronze; 1st century CE. Unknown provenance, private collection.
“The idea that rivers are gods and springs divine nymphs is deeply rooted not only in poetry but in belief and ritual; the worship of these deities is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality.”
~ Walter Burkert, Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.
The benefits of pure, flowing waters were recognized and valued to the point that people not only made offerings of gratitude to the spirits of the place, but sought their assistance in matters of health in general and conception in particular. A nymphaeum was originally a grotto near a river or natural spring which was regarded as the habitation of a nymph or nymphs. Eventually, articifial grottos were designed for fountains, and as garden features.