Myth Man's Greek Mythology



Amphitrite in ancient mythology was the goddess of the sea, as well as the queen of the sea, since her husband was Poseidon, the king of the sea. She was a symbolic feminine representation of the sea.

The poet Hesiod claims that Amphitrite was one of the 50 or 100 Nereid daughters of Nereus (the mythical Old Man of the Sea) and Doris. The Nereids were beautiful sea nymphs who were represented in Greek art as sitting on dolphins and holding either garlands of flowers or tridents.

Their primary duty was to attend to Poseidon, and they became part of the royal court once Amphitrite married the sea god. Altars dedicated to them by worshipping sailors and fishermen dotted the seashore, with offerings of honey, milk and oil made to invoke their favour on their voyage and a safe return home.

On the other hand, the mythographer Apollodorus lists her among both the Nereids, as well as naming her among the Oceanids, the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys.

She had many offspring, including fish, seals, dolphins and sea monsters, as well as Triton the merman and a daughter named Rhodos (or Rhode), wife of the sun god Helios, even though her heritage is disputed.

Poseidon saw the Nereid Amphitrite dancing with the other Nereids at low tide on the island of Naxos and immediately fell in love and announced that he wanted to marry her.

But she was a modest maiden, fearful of Poseidon's tempestuous nature and reputation, who desired to remain unblemished. She fled to the Atlas mountains in North Africa, whereupon a desperate Poseidon showered her with gifts of sunken treasures, pearls and coral, but still Amphitrite refused to say 'yes'.

Smitten Poseidon sent many creatures to find her, including a dolphin named Delphinus. The dolphin came across Amphitrite and spoke so eloquently on Poseidon's behalf that finally she became convinced that he would make a wonderful husband.

She agreed and, as a reward for his service, the god of the sea created the Delphinus constellation, placing the dolphin among the stars. At her wedding, the great goddess Aphrodite gave her a wreath of roses to acknowledge her newfound divinity.

When the Greek hero Theseus, son of Poseidon by some accounts, went to Crete to slay the Minotaur, King Minos of Crete threw a ring into to sea to challenge his lineage. He then dared Theseus to dive into the water and fetch the ring to prove he was a son of Poseidon.

When Theseus dove into the water he was carried to Poseidon's golden palace by dolphins, where Amphitrite welcomed him as a son of Poseidon. She entertained him among the Nereids and gave him a gift of a crimson cloak, placing the garland of roses that Aphrodite had given her on his head.

Needless to say, a triumphant Theseus was carried back to his ship, where a dumbfounded King Minos marveled at Amphitrite's divine gifts, reluctantly acknowledging his parentage.

Poseidon once cast a lustful glance at a beautiful Nereid named Scylla, daughter of Phorcys, a primordial sea god. Amphitrite was having none of that! She procured some of the witch Circe's magical herbs and poured them into the pool of water that Scylla bathed in.

As soon as Scylla entered the water, the beautiful maiden was instantly transformed into a horrific barking monster with twelve feet and six heads, through no fault of her own falling victim to Poseidon's lust!

In works of art Amphitrite was represented as a young woman wearing a diadem and holding a scepter as a sign of her divinity, either at the side of Poseidon on their thrones, of driving with him in a chariot drawn by sea horses or other fantastic sea creatures. At times she would wield the terrible trident of her husband.

Often in ancient art she was identifiable by a crab claw on her forehead that resembled a helmet, as well as a golden net that she wore in her hair. Shle greatly resembled the gorgeous Aphrodite.

The ancient poet Homer names Amphitrite as one of the goddesses who attended Leto's side as she laboured for nine days and nine nights to give birth to Apollo and his sister Artemis on the small island of Delos. Homer says that the 'great goddessess all gave a great cheer once the beautiful Apollo was born.'

Amphitrite was essentially the same as the primordial sea goddess named Thalassa. Her Roman equivalent was named Salacia, which means 'salty one'. Salacia was also the goddess of springs.

Her powers included control over the waves and the sea creatures and the ability to swiftly move through the water.



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