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This article is about the sea god. For other uses, see Phorcys (disambiguation).
Abode Sea
Consort Ceto
Parents Pontus and Gaia
Siblings Nereus, Thaumas, Ceto and Eurybia
Children The Hesperides, The Gorgons, The Graeae, Thoosa, Scylla, Echidna, the Sirens, and Ladon

In Greek mythology, Phorcys /ˈfɔrsɨs/ (Greek: Φόρκυς, Phorkus) is a god of the hidden dangers of the deep. He is a primordial sea god, generally cited (first in Hesiod) as the son of Pontus and Gaia. According to the Orphic hymns, Phorcys, Cronus and Rhea were the eldest offspring of Oceanus and Tethys.[1] Classical scholar Karl Kerenyi conflated Phorcys with the similar sea gods Nereus and Proteus.[2] His wife was Ceto, and he is most notable in myth for fathering by Ceto a host of monstrous children collectively known as the Phorcydes. In extant Hellenistic-Roman mosaics, Phorcys was depicted as a fish-tailed merman with crab-claw fore-legs and red-spiked skin.

The Phorcydes[edit]


Hesiod's Theogony lists the children of Phorcys and Ceto as the The Graeae (Deino, Pemphredo, and Enyo), the The Gorgons (Stheno, Euryale and the famous Medusa), Echidna and the terrible snake, watcher of the Hesperian golden apples, also called the Drakon Hesperios ("Hesperian Dragon", or dragon of the Hesperides) or Ladon. These children tend to be consistent across sources, though Ladon is sometimes cited as a child of Echidna by Typhoeus and therefore Phorcys and Ceto's grandson.

The Bibliotheca and Homer refer to Scylla as the daughter of Krataiis, with the Bibliotheca specifying that she is also Phorcys's daughter. The Bibliotheca also refers to Scylla as the daughter of Trienos, implying that Krataiis and Trienos are the same entity. Apollonius cites Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys and a conflated Krataiis-Hekate. Stesichorus refers to Scylla as a daughter of Phorcys and Lamia (potentially translated as "the shark" and referring to Ceto rather than to the mythological Libyan Queen).

The Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius cites Phorcys and Ceto as the parents of The Hesperides, but this assertion is not repeated in other ancient sources.

Homer refers to Thoosa, the mother of Polyphemus, as a daughter of Phorcys.

Family Tree[edit]

Main article: Greek sea gods
Pontus Thalassa
Nereus Thaumas Phorcys Ceto Eurybia The Telchines Halia Aphrodite [3]
The Phorcydes
The Children of
Phorcys (and Ceto)
Echidna The Gorgons[4] Graeae Ladon The Hesperides Scylla[5] The Sirens Thoösa

Cultural references[edit]

Phorcys appears in the 2012 novel The Heroes Of Olympus:The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. He along with his sister-wife Keto are working in an aquarium in Atlanta where he traps Percy Jackson and Frank Zhang in a tank and tries to make them fight each other. They are able to escape with the help of their satyr companion Gleeson Hedge.

He also appears in the Agent of Atlas Marvel Comics comic book miniseries, where he helps the goddess Aphrodite into apprehending the rogue siren Venus.


  1. ^ Kerenyi, p. 42.
  2. ^ Kerenyi pp. 42-43.
  3. ^ There are two major conflicting stories for Aphrodite's origins: Hesiod (Theogony) claims that she was "born" from the foam of the sea after Cronus castrated Uranus, thus making her Uranus' daughter; but Homer (Iliad, book V) has Aphrodite as daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.
  4. ^ Most sources describe Medusa as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, though the author Hyginus (Fabulae Preface) makes Medusa the daughter of Gorgon and Ceto.
  5. ^ Various Greek myths account for Scylla's origins and fate. According to some such as Eustathius, she was one of the children of Phorcys and Ceto. Other sources, including Stesichorus, cite her parents as Triton and Lamia. Hyginus says Scylla was the daughter of the river god Crataeis.


External links[edit]