Mythology Monday: Thetis and the Nereids


Jason and the Argonauts encounter yet another pair of clashing/wandering rocks. This set is called the Planctae, and it is located near Scylla and Charybdis. To get through the wandering rocks, the Argonauts enlisted the help of Thetis and the Nereids.

Thetis was one of fifty children of Nereus, which made her a Nereid. She is among the most famous of the pack, sharing the spotlight with her sister Amphitrite, Poseidon’s wife, and Galatea (not the statue, Polyphemus’ girlfriend). Thetis is most famous for being the mother of Achilles. Her wedding to Peleus started the sequence of events that led to the Trojan War because they forgot to add Eris to the guest list, so she showed up with a golden apple, which caused a beauty contest, which caused a kidnapping, which eventually got Achilles almost killed. Thetis was protective of Achilles. She dipped him in the river Styx when he was a baby to make him impervious to harm. His only vulnerable spot was the heel of his foot because she held him by it when she dipped him in the river. She might have anointed him with Ambrosia instead, the myth varies. Anyway, it can’t be said she didn’t care about her son. When Achilles was near death, she snatched him away to the mythical White Islands (think Elysium, the ocean edition) to live forever.

At some point in her lifetime, she helped Zeus when some of the other Olympians tried to mutiny and throw the god-king in chains. Thetis summoned a giant with a hundred arms to scare off Hera, Athena, and Poseidon. It worked. Other versions of the myth have her releasing Zeus from chains, but make no mention of the Olympian’s part in putting him there. She also nursed Hephaestus back to health when he got tossed into a volcano and gave Dionysus shelter when he was kicked off Olympus.

Poseidon and Zeus both expressed interest in marrying the Nereid, but backed off when they heard a prophecy that her son would become greater than his father. They were pleased when she married a mortal.

Since her husband was an Argonaut, though the timing is shaky on this (maybe they met here?), she was pleased to help the Argo get past the wandering rocks. The Nereids tossed the ship around like a beach ball, getting it safely past the rocks where they…ran right into another storm.

More on that next week.

2 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Thetis and the Nereids

  1. Pingback: Jason and the Argonauts Master Post | Kaitlin Bevis

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