Perhaps the earliest form of faeries can be found loosely
in the mythical beings in Greek mythology, such as the
nymphs, satyrs and sileni. The nymphs from
ancient Greek myths can be considered as fairies and they
existed as early as the time of Homer writing the Iliad and
the Odyssey. Even the river gods in Greek myths can be
classified as fairies. These are spirits or minor deities of
nature or of the natural phenomena.
The idea that the world is full of spirit beings both bad
and good is one we find in the oldest myths and tales from
cultures the world over. In ancient Greece, the
Neo-Platonist Porphyry (c. 232-c. 305 A.D.) wrote
that the air was inhabited by good and bad spirits with
fluid bodies of no fixed shape, creatures who change their
form at will. These were certainly faeries. Porphyry
explained that the bad spirits were composed of turbulent
malignity and created disruptions whenever humans failed to
address them with respect.
In ancient Greek literature, the sirens in Homer's
Odyssey are fairies, and a number of the heroes in
his Iliad have fairy lovers in the form of nymphs.