Mythology Monday: Primordial Sea Gods Part 1

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Hydros was the god of primordial waters. He came from Chaos alongside Thesis (creation) and mud. The primordial mud became Gaia she and Hydros gave birth to Chronos and Ananke. Hydros wasn’t water in the same sense that Pontos was. He was the fresh-water river that encircled the earch and provided water for the gods.

Pontus was the son of Gaia, sometimes son of Chaos, sometimes Aether, and sometimes “created without coupling.” He was the first sea-god, and as a primordial he WAS the sea.

He paired with Gaia to have Nereus, the old man of the sea, Thaumas (the awe/wonder of the sea), Phorcys, Ceto, Eurybia, and Thalassa, the sea goddess. With Thalassa, he created all sea life, Halia, and the Telchines.

Thalassa is sometimes considered the daughter of Aether and Hemera. Sometimes she’s the mother of Aphrodite. Since Thalassa is also the sea, when Aphrodite came from the sea (Thalassa) after Uranus lost his nether bits.

Thalassa makes an appearance In Aesop’s Fables when a farmer sees a ship full of people sink into the ocean. The farmer got upset and started cursing the sea for its cruelty and to his utter shock a woman made of sea-water emerged from the ocean and laid into him for spreading mean stories about her. Without wind, the ocean would be calm and serene so really, it’s out of her control.

Nereus, the old man of the sea, was a Titan, so we’ll deal with him in another set of mythology Mondays. Thaumas married an Oceanid named Electra and gave birth to the Harpies, Iris, the divine messenger and goddess of rainbows, and Arke, the shadow of the rainbow.

Phorcys was the primordial god of the deep sea and all its dangers. His wife/sister was Ceto, goddess of large marine life and sea monsters, and together the two produced a bunch of fearsome monsters called the Phorcydes, the Hesperides, the Gorgons, Graeae, Thoosa, Scylla, Echidna, and Laydon.

Eurybia, primordial goddess of the sea’s force, was known for having a heart of flint and for controlling the rise and fall of constellations, seasonal weather, and the winds. She married the Titan Crius and gave birth to Astraeus, Perses, and Pallas. Her grandchildren all had power over the sea. They included the Anemoi (Winds), the Astra (Stars), Hekate (Witchraft), Selene (the Moon), Nike (Victory), Bia (Force), Kratos (Power), Zelos (Rivalry) (thank you theoi) .

Proteus was a primordial sea god of oceanic rivers. The children of Proteus, include Eidothea, Polygonus and Telegonus, (the latter two were both killed by Heracles)

He can see the future, but in order to hear it you have to catch the shape-shifting deity. In the Odyssey, Menelaus learned that if he could capture Proteus, then Menelaus could force Proteus to reveal which of the gods he had offended, and how he could get them to lay off so he could go home. Proteus’ daughter told Menelaus where he slept (with the seals, apparently) so Menelaus snuck up on him while he was sleeping and grabbed hold of the primordial god. Proteus shifted from lion, to serpent, to leopard, to pig, to water and then to a tree, but Menelaus didn’t let go. Defeated, Proteus told Menelaus the fates of everyone else on the way home from the war.

Another myth involving Proteus’ shape shifting took place when all of Aristaeus’ (son of Apollo) bees died. Since Ancient Greece took mass dying of bees much more seriously than we do now for some reason, Aristaeus got a hold of Proteus to learn how to prevent more bees from dying. He held on through all the changes and Proteus finally told him the gods had struck down his bees because he was responsible for the death of Eurydice (Orpheus’ wife, on her wedding day, Aristaeus decided he wanted to rape her, so he chased her through the woods where she was bitten by a snake and died.) He sacrificed to the gods, said he was sorry, and all the bees lived happily ever after.

3 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Primordial Sea Gods Part 1

  1. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Medusa | Kaitlin Bevis

  2. Pingback: Mythology Monday: The Muses | Kaitlin Bevis

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