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Creation, Nurse

Nereid Thetis holding dolphins | Athenian red-figure kylix C6th B.C. | Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Nereid Thetis holding dolphins, Athenian red-figure kylix C6th B.C., Museum of Fine Arts Boston

THETIS was the leader of the fifty Nereides.

This page describes the birth and upbringing of her son Akhilleus (Achilles) and how she hid the boy on the island of Skyros (Scyros) disguised as a girl.



Homer, Iliad 20. 207 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"They say you [Akhilleus (Achilles)] are the issue of blameless Peleus and that your mother was Thetis of the lovely hair, Halosydne (the Brine-Born)."

Pseudo-Hesiod, Aegimius Fragment 2 (from Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius 4.816) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"The author of the Aigimios says in the second book that Thetis used to throw the children she had by Peleus into a cauldron of water, because she wished to learn where they were mortal . . . And that after many had perished Peleus was annoyed, and prevented her from throwing Akhilleus (Achilles) into the cauldron."

Plato, Republic 391c (trans. Shorey) (Greek philosophy C4th B.C.) :
"Akhilleus (Achilles), the son of a goddess [Thetis] and of Peleus the most chaste of men, grandson of Zeus, and himself bred under the care of the most sage Kheiron (Chiron)."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 117 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Thetis had a baby [Akhilleus (Achilles)] by Peleus, and wished to make it immortal, without telling Peleus she hid the child in the fire at night to destroy its paternally derived mortal qualities, and during the day she rubbed it with ambrosia. But Peleus spied on her and when he saw the child convulsed in the fire, he shouted out. So Thetis prevented from carrying out her plan, deserted her infant son and went off to join the Nereides."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 757 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"[The infant] Akhilleus (Achilles), who is now with Kheiron (Chiron) the Kentauros (Centaur) and is fed by Water-Nymphai (Nymphs) though he should be at your [Thetis'] breast . . .
[Peleus] had never set eyes on her [Thetis] since the night when in a rage she had left her bridal bed. They had quarrelled about the illustrous Akhilleus. He was a baby then, and in the middle of the night she used to surround her mortal child with fire and every day anoint his tender flesh with ambrosia, to make him immortal and save him from the horrors of old age. One night Peleus, leaping out of bed, saw his boy gasping in the flames and gave a terrible cry. It was a foolish thing to do. Thetis heard, and snatching up the child threw him screaming on the floor. Then, passing quickly out of the house, light as a dream and insubstantial as the air, she plunged intothe sea. She was mortally offended and she never returned."

Lycophron, Alexandra 178 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Out of seven sons [of Thetis] consumed in the flame alone [Akhilleus (Achilles)] escaping the fiery ashes." [N.B. Thetis placed each of her infants on the fire after they were born in an attempt to make them immortal. Peleus rescued Akhilleus from a similar fate.]

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 6 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Thetis burned in a secret place the children she had by Peleus; six were born; when she had Akhilleus (Achilles), Peleus noticed and tore him from the flames with only a burnt foot and confided him to Kheiron (Chiron). The latter exhumed the body of the Gigante (Giant) Damysos who was buried at Pallene--Damysos was the fastest of all the Gigantes--removed the astragale and incorporated it into Akhilleus' foot using ‘ingredients.’ This astragale fell when Akhilleus was pursued by Apollon and it was thus that Akhilleus, fallen, was killed."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 6 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
"[In an alternate version of the story given above :] It is said . . . that he [Akhilleus (Achilles)] was called Podarkes (Podarces, Swift-Footed) by the Poet, because, it is said, Thetis gave the newborn child the wings of Arke (Arce) and Podarkes means that his feet had the wings of Arke. And Arke was the daughter of Thaumas . . . [and ally of] the Titanes. After the victory Zeus removed her wings before throwing her into Tartaros and, when he came to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, he brought these wings as a gift for Thetis."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 7 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
"Akhilleus (Achilles), because he was saved from the fire that his mother had lit to burn him, was called ‘saved from fire’ [i.e. Pyrrhos] and it is because one of his lips was burned that he was called Akhilleus by his father."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 2 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of a painting of young Akhilleus (Achilles) in the care of kentauros Kheiron (centaur Chiron):] The cloak he wears is probably his mother's gift; for it is beautiful and its colour is sea-purple with red glints shading into a dark blue."

Seneca, Troades 344 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Achilles who by right of lineage extends throughout the realm of the immortals and claims the universe: the sea through Thetis, through Aeacus [i.e. his grandfather] the shades, the heavens through Jove [i.e. Zeus his great-grandfather]."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 134 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Thetis speaks :] ‘I take my son [Achilles] down to the void of Tartarus, and dip him . . . in the springs of Styx . . . The Carpathian seer [i.e. Proteus, god of the Carpathian sea] bids me banish these terrors [i.e. the prophesied death of Achilles] by the ordinance of a magic rite, and purify the lad in secret waters [the Styx] beyond the bound of heaven's vault, where is the farthest shore of Oceanus and father Pontus is warmed by the ingliding stars. There awful sacrifices and gifts to gods unknown--but 'tis long to recount all, and I am forbidden.’"

Statius, Achilleid 1. 478 ff :
"Whom else [but Achilles] did a Nereis [Thetis] take be stealth through the Stygian waters and make his fair limbs impenetrable to steel?"


Thetis riding Hippocamp | Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C. | Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Thetis riding Hippocamp, Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C., Kunsthistorisches Museum

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 174 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Akhilleus (Achilles) was nine, [the seer] Khalkas (Calchas) announced that Troy could not be captured without him. Thetis, who had foreknowledge that he would have to die if he went to war, concealed him in women's dress and handed him over to Lykomedes (Lycomedes) as a girl."

Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 1 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting :] [Skyros (Scyros)] the place where the daughters of Lykomedes (Lycomedes) follow their maidenly pursuits with the seeming daughter of Thetis. For when Thetis learned from her father Nereus the decree of Moirai (the Fates) about her son--that one of two things had been allotted to him, either to live ingloriously or becoming glorious to die very soon--her son was put away among the daughters of Lykomedes on Skyros and now lives hidden there . . . [But] as the rumour of Thetis' secret spreads among the Greeks, Diomedes in company with Odysseus sets forth to Skyros to ascertain the truth of this story."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 96 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Thetis the Nereis knew that Achilles, the son she had borne to Peleus, would die if he went to attack Troy, she sent him to the island of Scyros, entrusting him to King Lycomedes."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 13. 162 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Achilles' Nereid mother [Thetis] who foreknew the death that he would die, disguised her son in women's clothes, and all the world was tricked."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 25 - 396 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Thetis--ah! never vain are a parent's auguries! [i.e. that Achilles was destined to die at Troy.]--started with terror beneath the glassy flood at the Idaean oars [i.e. when she saw the ship of Paris carrying Helene off to Troy]. Without delay she sprang forth from her watery bower, accompanied by her train of sisters [the Nereides]: the narrowing shores of Phrixus [i.e. the Hellespont] swarm, and the straitened sea has not room for its mistresses.
As soon as she had shaken the brine from off her, and entered the air of heaven : ‘There is danger to me,’ said she, ‘in yonder fleet, and threat of deadly harm; I recognise the truth of Proteus' [the prophetic sea-god's] warnings. Lo! Bellona [Enyo goddess of war] brings from the vessel amid uplifted torches a new daughter-in-law [Helene] to Priam; already I see the Ionian and Aegean seas pressed by a thousand keels; nor does it suffice that all the country of the Grecians conspires with the proud sons of Atreus, soon will my Achilles be sought for by land and sea, ay, and himself will wish to follow them. Why indeed did I suffer Pelion and the stern master's cave to cradle his infant years? [I.e. Achilles was then in the foster-care of the centaur Chiron.] There, if I mistake not, he plays, the rogue, at the battle of the Lapithai (Lapiths), and already takes his measure with this father's spear. O sorrow! O fears that came too late to a mother's heart! Could I not, unhappy that I am, when first the timber of Rhoeteum was launched upon my flood [by Paris], have raised a mighty sea and pursued with a tempest on the deep the adulterous robber's sails and led on all my sisters against him? Even now--but 'tis too late, the outrage hath been wrought in full. Yet will I go, and clinging to the gods of ocean and the right hand of second Jove [i.e. Neptunus-Poseidon]--nought else remains--entreat him in piteous supplications by the years of Tethys and his aged sire for one single storm.’
She spoke, and opportunely beheld the mighty monarch [Poseidon], he was coming from Oceanus his host, gladdened by the banquet, and his countenance suffused with the nectar of the deep: wherefore the winds and tempest are silent and with tranquil song proceed the Tritones who bear his armour and the rock-like Cete (Sea-Monsters) and the Tyrrhenian herds [seals], and gambol around and blow him, saluting their king; he towers on high above the peaceful waves, urging his team [of Hippocamps] with his three-pronged spear: frontwise they run at furious speed amid showers of foam, behind they swim and blot out their footprints with their tails:--when Thetis : ‘O sire and ruler of the mighty deep, seest thou to what uses thou hast made a way o'er the hapless ocean? The crimes of the nations pass by with unmolested sails, since the Pagasaean bark broke through the sanctions of the waters and profaned their hallowed majesty on Jason's quest of plunder. Lo! freighted another wicked theft, the spoils of hospitality, sails the daring arbiter of unjust Ida [Paris], destined to cause what sorrow, alas! to heaven and earth, and what to me! Is it thus we requite the joy of the Phrygian triumph [i.e. of Aphrodite in the contest for the golden apple], is this the way of Venus [Aphrodite], is this her gift to her dear ward? These ships at least--no demigods nor our own Theseus do they carry home--o'erwhelm, if thou still hast any regard for the waters, or give the sea into my power; no cruelty do I purpose; suffer me to fear for my own son. Grant me to drive away my sorrow, nor let it be thy pleasure that out of all the seas I find a home in but a single coast and the rocks of an Ilian tomb [i.e. haunting the tomb at Troy where Achilles was destined to be buried].’
With torn cheeks she made her prayer, and with bare bosom would fain hinder the cerulean steeds. But the ruler of the seas [Poseidon] invites her into his chariot and soothes her thus with friendly words : ‘Seek not in vain, Thetis, to sink the Dardanian [Trojan] fleet: the fates forbid it, 'tis the sure ordinance of heaven that Europe and Asia should join in bloody conflict, and Jupiter [Zeus] hath issued his decree of war and appointed years of dreary carnage. What prowess of thy son in the Sigean dust, what vast funeral trains of Phyrgian matrons shalt thou victoriously behold, when thy Aeacides [her son Achilles] shall flood the Trojan fields with streaming blood, and anon forbid the choked river to flow and check his chariot's speed with Hector's corpse and mightily o'erthrow my walls, my useless toil! Cease now to complain of Peleus and thy inferior wedlock: thy child shall be deemed begotten of Jove [Zeus]; nor shalt thou suffer unavenged, but shalt use thy kindred seas: I will grant thee to raise the billows, when the Danaans [Greeks] return and Caphereus shows forth his nightly signals and we search together for terrible Ulysses [Odysseus].’
He spoke; but she, downcast at the stern refusal, for but now she was preparing to stir up the waters and make war upon the Ilian [Trojan] craft, devised in her mind another plan, and sadly turned her strokes toward the Haemonian land [Greece]. Thrice stove she with her arms, thrice spurned the clear water with her feet, and the Thessalian waves are washing on her snow-white ankles. The mountains rejoice, the marriage-bowers fling open their recesses, and [the river] Spercheus in wide, abundant stream flows to meet the goddess and laps her footsteps with his fresh water. She delights not in the scene, but wearies her mind with schemes essayed, and taught cunning by her devoted love seeks out the aged Chiron. His lofty home bores deep into the mountain, beneath the long, overarching vault of Pelion; part had been hollowed out by toil, part worn away by its own age. Yet the images and couches of the gods are shown, and the places that each had sanctified by his reclining and his sacred presence [i.e. at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis]; within are the Centaurus' wide and lofty stalls . . .
On the threshold's edge he awaited his return from hunting, and was urging the laying of the feast and brightening his abode with lavish fire : when far off the Nereis (Nereid) was seen climbing upward from the shore; he burst forth from the forests--joy speeds his going--and the well-known hoof-beat of the sage rang on the now unwonted plain. Then bowing down his horse's shoulders he leads her with courtly hand within his humble dwelling and warns her of the cave.
Long time has Thetis been scanning every corner with silent gaze : then, impatient of delay, she cries : ‘Tell me, Chiron, where is my darling? Why spends the boy any time apart from thee? Is it not with reason that my sleep is troubled, and terrible portents from the gods and fearful panics--would they were false!--afflict his mother's heart? For now I behold swords that threaten to pierce my womb, now my arms are bruised with lamentation, now savage beasts assail my breasts; often--ah, horror!--I seem to take my son down to the void of Tartarus, and dip him a second time in the springs of Styx. The Carpathian seer [i.e. Proteus god of the Carpathian Sea] bids me banish these terrors by the ordinance of a magic rite, and purify the lad in secret waters beyond the bound of heaven's vault, where is the farthest shore of Oceanus and father Pontus is warmed by the ingliding stars. There awful sacrifices and gifts to gods unknown--but 'tis long to recount all, and I am forbidden; give him to me rather.’
Thus spoke his mother in lying speech--nor would he have given him up, had she dared to confess to the old man the soft raiment and dishonourable garb. Then he replies : ‘Take him, I pray, O best of parents, take him, and assuage the gods with humble entreaty. For thy hopes are pitched too high, and envy needs much appeasing. I add not to thy fears, but will confess the truth: some swift and violent deed--the forebodings of a sire deceive me not--is preparing, far beyond his tender years. Formerly he was wont to endure my anger, and listen eagerly to my commands nor wander far from my cave: now Ossa cannot contain him, nor mighty Pelion and all the snows of Thessalia (Thessaly). Even the Centauri (Centaurs) often complain to me of plundered homes and herds stolen before their eyes, and that they themselves are driven from field and river; they devise violence and fraud, and utter angry threats. Once when the Thessalian pine bore hither the princes of Argo, I saw the young Alcides [Heracles] and Theseus--but I say no more.’
Cold pallor seized the daughter of Nereus : lo! he [Achilles] has come . . . He has stricken a lioness lately delivered and had left her in the empty lair, but had brought her cubs and was making them show their claws. Yet when he sees his mother on the well-known threshold, away he throws them, catches her up and binds her in his longing arms, already violent in his embrace and equal to her in height. Patroclus follows him, bound to him even then by a strong affection . . .
Straightway with rapid bound he hies him to the nearest river, and freshens in its waters his steaming face and hair . . . The old man [Chiron] marvels as he adorns him, caressing how his breast, and now his strong shoulders: her very joy pierces his mother's heart. Then Chiron prays her to taste the banquet and the gifts of Bacchus [Dionysos], and contriving various amusements for her beguiling at last brings forth the lyre and moves the care-consoling strings, and trying the chords lightly with his finger gives them to the boy. Gladly he sings of the mighty causes of noble deeds . . . lastly [he sung] of his mother's marriage-feast and Pelion trodden by the gods. Then Thetis relaxed her anxious countenance and smiled. Night draws them on to slumber: the huge Centaurus lays him down on a stony couch, and Achilles lovingly twines his arms about his shoulders-- though his faithful parent is there--and prefers the wonted breast.
But Thetis, standing by night upon the sea-echoing rocks, this way and that divides her purpose, and ponders in what hiding-place she will set her son, in what country she shall choose to conceal him . . . Of late from the unwarlike palace of Lycomedes had she heard the sound of maiden bands and the echo of their sport along the shore, what time she was sent to follow Aegaeon freed [Zeus] from his stubborn bonds and to count the hundred fetters of the god. This land finds favour, and seems safest to the timid mother . . .
One more care abides in her mind and troubles the sad goddess, whether she shall carry her son in her own bosom o'er the eaves, or use great Triton's aid, whether she shall summon the swift Venti (Winds) [Anemoi] to help her, of the Thaumantian [i.e. Iris the Rainbow] that is wont to drink the main. Then she calls out from the waves and bridles with a sharp-edged shell her team of dolphins twain, which Tethys, mighty queen, had nourished for her in an echoing vale beneath the sea;--none throughout all Neptunus' [Poseidon's] watery realm had such renown for their sea-green beauty, nor greater speed of swimming, nor more of human sense;--these she halts in the deep shore-water, lest they take harm from the touch of naked earth. Then in her own arms she carries Achilles, his body utterly relaxed in the boy's slumber, from the rocks of the Haemonian cave down to the placid waters and the beach that she had bidden be silent; Cynthia [Selene the Moon] lights her way and shines out her full orb. Chiron escorts the goddess, and careless of the sea entreats her speedy return, and hides his moistened eyes and high upon his horse's body gazes out towards them as suddenly they are whirled away, and now--and now are lost to view, where for a short while the foamy marks of their going gleam white and the wake dies away into the watery main. Him destined never more to return to Thessalian Tempe now mournful Pholoe bewails, now cloudy Othrys, and Spercheos (Spercheus) with diminished flood and the silent grotto of the sage; the Fauni (Fauns) [Satyroi] listen for his boyish songs in vain, and the Nymphae (Nymphs) bemoan their long-hoped for nuptials.
Now day o'erwhelms the stars, and from the low and level main Titan [Helios the Sun] wheels heavenward his dripping steeds, and down from the expanse of air falls the sea that the chariot bore up; but long since had the mother traversed the waves and gained the Scyrian shores, and the weary dolphins had been loosed from their mistress' yoke : when the boy's sleep was stirred, and his opening eyes grew conscious of the inpouring day. In amaze at the light that greets him he asks, where is he, what are these waves, where is Pelion? All he beholds is different and unknown, and he hesitates to recognise his mother. Quickly she caresses him and soothes his fear : ‘If, dear lad, a kindly lot had brought me the wedlock that it offered, in the fields of heaven should I be holding thee, a glorious star, in my embrace, nor a celestial mother should I fear the lowly Parcae [Moirai, Fates] or the destinies of earth. But now unequal is thy birth, my son, and only on thy mother's side is the way of death barred for thee; moreover, times of terror draw nigh, and peril hovers about the utmost goal. Retire we then, relax awhile thy mighty spirit, and scorn not this raiment of mine . . . [she asks her son disguise himself as a girl in the palace of Lycomedes of Scyros.] This way, I entreat thee, suffer me to escape the threatening, baleful cloud. Soon will I restore thy plains and the fields where the Centauri (Centaurs) roam: by this beauty of thine and the coming joys of youth I pray thee, if for thy sake I endured the earth and an inglorious mate, if at thy birth I fortified thee with the stern waters of Styx--ay, would I had wholly!--take these safe robes awhile, they will in now wise harm thy valour. Why dost thou turn away? What means that glance? Art thou ashamed to soften thee in this garb? Dear lad, I swear it by my kindred waters, Chiron shall know nought of this.’
So doth she work on his rough heart, vainly cajoling; the thought of his sire and his great teacher oppose her prayer and the rude beginnings of his mighty spirit . . .
What god endued the despairing mother with fraud and cunning? What device drew Achilles from his stubborn purpose? . . . When he beheld her [Lycomedes' daughter Deidameia] . . . the lad, ungentle as he was and heart-whole from any touch of passion, stood spellbound and drank in strange fire through all his frame . . .
Seizing the moment his mother purposely accosts him : ‘Is it too hard a thing, my son, to make pretence of dancing and join hands in sport among these maidens? Hast thou aught such neath Ossa and the crags of Pelion? O, if it were my lot to match two loving hearts, and to bear another Achilles in my arms!’
He is softened, and blushes for joy, and with sly and sidelong glance repels the robes less certainly. His mother sees him in doubt and willing to be compelled, and casts the raiment o'er him; then she softens his stalwart neck and bows his strong shoulders, and relaxes the muscles of his arms, and tames and orders duly his uncombed tresses, and sets her own necklace about the neck she loves; then keeping his step within the embroidered skirt she teaches him gait and motion and modesty of speech. Even as the waxen images that the artist's thumb will make to live take from and follow the fire and the hand that carves them, such was the picture of the goddess as she transformed her son. Nor did she struggle long; for plenteous charm remains to him though his manhood book it not, and he baffles beholders by the puzzle of his sex that by a narrow margin hides its secret.
They go forward, and Thetis unsparingly plies her counsels and persuasive words : ‘Thus then, my son, must thou manage thy gait, thus thy features an thy hands, and imitate thy comrades and counterfeit their ways, lest the king [Lycomedes] suspect thee and admit thee not to the women's chambers, and the crafty cunning of our enterprise be lost.’
So speaking she dealys not to put correcting touches to his attire . . . Straightway she accosts the monarch [Lycomedes], and there in the presence of the altars : ‘Here, O king,’ she says, ‘I present to thee the sister of my Achilles--seest thou not how proud her glance and like her brother's?--so high her spirit, she begged for arms and a bow to carry on her shoulders, and like an Amazon to spurn the thought of wedlock. But my son is enough care for me; let her carry the baskets at the sacrifice, do thou control and tame her wilfulness, and keep her to her sex, till the time for marriage come and the end of her maiden modesty; nor suffer her to engage in wanton wrestling-matches, nor to frequent the woodland haunts. Bring her up indoors, in seclusion among girls of her own age; above all remember to keep her from the harbour and the shore. Lately thou sawest the Phrygian sails [i.e. of Paris' ships]: already ships that have crossed the sea have learnt treason to mutual loyalties.’
The sire accedes to her words, and receives the disguised Achilles by his mother's ruse--who can resist when gods deceive? Nay more, he venerates her with suppliant's hand, and gives thanks that he was chosen; nor is the band of duteous Scyrian maidens slow to dart keen glances at the face of their new comrade, how she o'ertops them by head and neck . . .
Long, ere she [Thetis] departs, lingers the mother at the gate, while she repeats advice and implants whispered secrets in his ear and in hushed tones gives her last counsels. Then she plunges into the main, and gazing back swims far away, and entreats with flattering prayers the island-shore : ‘O land that I love, to whom by timid cunning I have committed the pledge of my anxious care, a trust that is great indeed, mayst thou prosper and be silent, I beg, as Crete was silent for Rhea; enduring honour and everlasting shrines shall gird thee, nor shalt thou be surpassed by unstable Delos; sacred alike to wind and wave shalt thou be, and calm abode of Nereides among the shallows of the Cyclades, where the rocks are shattered by Aegean storms, an isle that sailors swear by--only admit no Danaan [Greek] keels, I beg! "Here are only the wands of Bacchus [Dionysos], nought avails for war"; that tale bid rumour spread, and while the Dorian armaments make ready and Mavors [Ares] rages from world to world--he may, for aught I care--let Achilles be the maiden daughter of good Lycomedes.’"

Statius, Achilleid 1. 684 ff :
"[Odysseus is sent to fetch Achilles from the island of Scyros :] The ship sails o'er the sea untroubled; for the Thunderer's [Zeus'] high commands suffered not Thetis to overturn the sure decrees of Fate, faint as she was with tears, and foreboding much because she could not excite the main and straightway pursue the hated Ulysses [Odysseus] with all her winds and waves."

Statius, Achilleid 2. 14 :
"[Achilles departing the island of Scyros] does sacrifice to the gods and the waters and south winds, and venerates with a bull the cerulean king [Neptune-Poseidon] below the waves and Nereus his grandsire: his mother [Thetis] is appeased with a garlanded heifer. Thereupon casting the swollen entrails on the salt foam he addresses her : ‘Mother, I have obeyed thee, though thy commands were hard to bear; too obedient have I been: now they demand me, and I go to the Trojan war and the Argolic fleet.’
So speaking he leapt into the bark, and was swept far from the neighbourhood of land by the whistling south wind."





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