In Greek mythology, Nerites (Greek: Νηρίτης) was a minor sea deity, son of Nereus and Doris and brother of the fifty Nereids (apparently their only male offspring). He is described as a young boy of stunning beauty. According to Aelian, Nerites was never mentioned by epic poets such as Homer and Hesiod, but was a common figure in the mariners’ folklore.
Aelian cites two versions of the myth concerning Nerites, which are as follows:
In one of the versions, Aphrodite, before her ascension from the sea to Olympus, fell in love with Nerites. When the time had come for her to join the Olympian gods, she wanted Nerites to go with her, but he refused, preferring to stay with his family in the sea. Even the fact that Aphrodite promised him a pair of wings did not make him change his mind. The scorned goddess then transformed him into a shellfish and gave the wings to her son Eros.
In the other version, Nerites was loved by Poseidon and answered his feelings. From their mutual love arose Anteros (personification of reciprocated love). Poseidon also made Nerites his charioteer; the boy drove the chariot astonishingly fast, to the admiration of various sea creatures. Helios, for reasons unknown to Aelian's sources, changed Nerites into a shellfish. (Aelian himself supposes that Helios might have wanted the boy's affections for himself and was offended by his refusal.)
- "Nerites". Theoi Project.