Nerites (mythology)

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TextsOn the Characteristics of Animals
Personal information
ParentsNereus and Doris
ConsortAphrodite, Poseidon

In Greek mythology, Nerites (Greek: Νηρίτης, romanizedNērítēs) was a minor sea deity, the son of "Old Man of the Sea" Nereus and the Oceanid Doris[1] and brother of the fifty Nereids (apparently their only male sibling). 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.[2]


According to Aristoteles, the name nerites refers to many species of sea snails. R. S. P. Beekes suggests a Pre-Greek origin for the word.[3]


Aelian cites two versions of the myth concerning Nerites,[2] 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. 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; the narrative of the love-story is disrupted by Helios who is resentful of the boy's speed, but with no explanation behind it, allowing Aelian to conjecture that the two gods were rivals in love and Helios might have wanted the boy's affections for himself and was offended by his refusal.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grimal, s.v. Nerites, p. 308.
  2. ^ a b Aelian, De Natura Animalium 14.28.
  3. ^ Beekes, R. S. P. (2009). Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Brill. p. 1017.
  4. ^ Sanders et al. 2013, p. 86.


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