In Greek mythology, Nerites (Greek: Νηρίτης, romanized: Nērítēs) was a minor sea deity, son of "Old Man of the Sea" Nereus and the Oceanid Doris and brother of the fifty Nereids (apparently their only male offspring). He was 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.
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. Their love was the origin of mutual love (Anteros). 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.)
- Claudius Aelianus, On the Characteristics of Animals, translated by Alwyn Faber Scholfield (1884-1969), from Aelian, Characteristics of Animals, published in three volumes by Harvard/Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library, 1958. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
- Claudius Aelianus, De Natura Animalium, Latin translation by Friedrich Jacobs in the Frommann edition, Jena, 1832. Latin translation available at Bill Thayer's Web Site
- Claudius Aelianus, De Natura Animalium, Rudolf Hercher. Lipsiae, in aedibus B. G. Teubneri, 1864. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library.