Web Theoi
PONTOS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ποντος Pontos Pontus Sea (pontos)
Pontus the Sea | Roman mosaic | Bardo Museum

Pontus the Sea, Roman mosaic, Bardo Museum

PONTOS (or Pontus) was the divinity of the sea, one of the Protogenoi or first born gods. He was the father of the most ancient of sea-gods by the earth-goddess by Gaia (Earth) including Nereus, Phorkys and Keto. By Thalassa, his female counterpart, Pontos sired the fish and other sea creatures.

In Roman mosaic he appears as a giant head rising from the sea adorned with a watery-gray beard and crab-claw horns.

Pontos and Thalassa were completely superceded by Poseidon and Amphitrite in classical art and myth. In Roman mosaic the primordial sea-gods were usually Okeanos and Tethys.

PARENTS
[1.1] GAIA (no father) (Hesiod Theogony 130)
[1.2] AITHER (or OURANOS) & GAIA (Hyginus Preface)
OFFSPRING
[1.1] NEREUS, THAUMAS, PHORKYS, KETO, EURYBIA (by Gaia) (Hesiod Theogony 233, Apollodorus 1.10)
[1.2] THAUMAS (by Gaia) (Hyginus Preface)
[2.1] AIGAIOS (by Gaia) (Eumelus Titanomachia 3)
[3.1] THE TELKHINES (by Gaia) (Bacchylides Frag 52)
[4.1] THE FISH (by Thalassa) (Hyginus Preface)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

PONTUS (Pontos), a personification of the sea, is described in the ancient cosmogony as a son of Gaea, and as the father of Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia, by his own mother. (Hes. Theog. 132, 233, &c.; Apollod. i. 2. § 6.) Hyginus (Fab. praef. p. 3, ed. Staveren) calls him a son of Aether and Gaea, and also assigns to him somewhat different descendants.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Hesiod, Theogony 106 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"The holy race of the deathless gods who are for ever, those that were born of Gaia (Earth) and starry Ouranos (Heaven) and gloomy Nyx (Night) and them that briny Pontos (Sea) did rear."

Hesiod, Theogony 126 ff :
"Verily at first Khaos (Air) came to be, but next wide-bosomed Gaia (Earth) . . . and dim Tartaros (Hell) in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Khaos (Air) came forth Erebos (Darkness) and black Nyx (Night); but of Nyx (Night) were born Aither (Light) and Hemera (Day), whom she conceived and bore from union in love with Erebos. And Gaia (Earth) first bore starry Ouranos (Heaven), equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Ourea (Mountains) . . . She bore also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontos (Sea), without sweet union of love."

Hesiod, Theogony 233 ff :
"And Pontos begat Nereus, the eldest of his children, who is true and lies not: and men call him the Old Man because he is trusty and gentle and does not forget the laws of righteousness, but thinks just and kindly thoughts. And yet again he got great Thaumas and proud Phorkys, being mated with Gaia, and fair-cheeked Keto and Eurybia who has a heart of flint within her."

Eumelus of Corinth or Arctinus of Miletus, Titanomachia Fragment 3 (from Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, Arg. i. 1165) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Aigaion was the son of Gaia and Pontos and, having his dwelling in the sea, was an ally of the Titanes."

Bacchylides, Fragment 52 (from Tzetzes on Theogony) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The four famous Telkhines, Aktaios, Megalesios, Ormenos and Lykos, whom Bacchylides calls the children of Nemesis and Tartaros but some others the children of Ge and Pontos."

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 88 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[The Titan Prometheus calls on all of nature to witness his torment:] O you bright sky of heaven (dios aithêr), you swift-winged breezes (takhypteroi pnoiai), you river-waters (pêgai potamôn), and infinite laughter of the waves of sea (pontos), O universal mother Earth (panmêtôr gê), and you, all-seeing orb of the sun (panoptês kyklos hêlios), to you I call! See what I, a god, endure from the gods."

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 431 ff :
"[Okeanos addresses the tormented Titan Prometheus :] `The waves of the sea (pontos) utter a cry as they fall, the deep laments, the black abyss of Aides rumbles in response, and the streams of pure-flowing rivers (potamoi) lament your piteous pain.'"

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 10 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The children of Pontos and Ge were Phorkos, Thaumas, Nereus, Eurybia, and Keto."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 498 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"He [Orpheus] sang of that past age when Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky) and Pontos (Sea) were knit together in a single mould; how they were sundered after deadly strife."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 15 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting :] The Argo is cutting its way through the midst of the surging Pontos [i.e. the Black Sea] and Orpheus is beguiling the sea by his singing, moreover Pontos listens and is calm under the spell of his song."
[N.B. Pontos was presumably personified in the painting.]

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Aether [or Ouranos] and Terra [Gaia] [were born various Daimones] . . .
[From Caelum-Ouranos and Terra-Gaia were born?:] Oceanus, Themis, Tartarus, Pontus; and Titanes . . .
From Pontos and Mare [Thalassa] [were born]: the tribe of fishes (piscium genera) . . .
From Pontos and Terra [Gaia] [were born]: Thaumas, tusciuersus, cepheus."


Pontus the Sea | Roman mosaic
Z35.7 PONTOS
HEAD
Pontus, Perseus & Andromeda | Roman mosaic
Z47.9 PONTOS,
PERSEUS
   

Sources:

  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • Eumelus, The Titanomachia - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.