Nephele was a cloud nymph in Greek mythology, who played an important role in the story of Phrixus and Helle. It was also the name of the cloud that Zeus made in the image of Hera, in order to see if Ixion, who was secretly in love with the goddess, would succumb to temptation; Ixion failed to restrain himself and after his union with Nephele, the Centaurs were born.
Nephele became the wife of Athamas, and had two children, Phrixus and Helle. However, Athamas abandoned Nephele and married Ino, who had little love for her stepchildren. To get rid of them, Ino roasted all of the seeds in the town, so they wouldn't grow; the desperate farmers sent men to an oracle to find out what was happening, but Ino bribed the men, who said that the oracle demanded that Phrixus be sacrificed. Just before the sacrifice, however, Nephele sent a flying golden ram that saved Phrixus and Helle. Nephele asked her children not to look down while on the ram; Helle foolishly disregarded the advice, and upon looking down to Earth, she lost her balance and fell into the sea called Hellespont, named after her. Phrixus managed to reach the mythical area of Colchis, where he was welcomed by King Aeetes; he married Aeetes' daughter, and in return, Phrixus gave him the Golden Fleece of the ram, which later became the object of desire for Jason and the Argonauts.