|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 or Phorcus (//; Ancient Greek: Φόρκυς) is a primordial sea god, generally cited (first in Hesiod) as the son of Pontus and Gaia (Earth). Classical scholar Karl Kerenyi conflated Phorcys with the similar sea gods Nereus and Proteus. His wife was Ceto, and he is most notable in myth for fathering by Ceto a host of monstrous children. In extant Hellenistic-Roman mosaics, Phorcys was depicted as a fish-tailed merman with crab-claw legs and red, spiky skin.
According to Servius, commentator on the Aeneid, who reports a very ancient version already reflected in Varro, distinct from the Greek vulgate: Phorcos was once king of Sardinia and Corsica; annihilated in a naval battle in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and then shot down by King Atlas with a large part of his army, his companions imagined him transformed into a marine deity, perhaps a monster, half man and half sea ram.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, Phorcys is the son of Pontus and Gaia, and the brother of Nereus, Thaumus, Ceto, and Eurybia. In a genealogy from Plato's dialogue Timaeus, Phorcys, Cronus and Rhea are the eldest offspring of Oceanus and Tethys.
Hesiod's Theogony lists the children of Phorcys and Ceto as the Graeae (naming only two: Pemphredo, and Enyo), the Gorgons (Stheno, Euryale and Medusa), probably Echidna (though the text is unclear on this point) and Ceto's "youngest, the awful snake who guards the apples all of gold in the secret places of the dark earth at its great bounds", 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 often cited as a child of Echidna by Typhon and therefore Phorcys and Ceto's grandson.
According to Apollodorus, Scylla was the daughter of Crataeis, with the father being either Trienus (Triton?) or Phorcus (a variant of Phorkys). Apollonius of Rhodes has Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys and a conflated Crataeis-Hecate. According to a fragment of Sophocles, Phorcys is the father of the Sirens.
The scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes cites Phorcys and Ceto as the parents of the Hesperides, but this assertion is not repeated in other ancient sources.
- Kerenyi pp. 42–43.
- «Rex fuit Forcus Corsicae et Sardiniae qui cum ab Atlante rege navali certamine cum magna exercitus parte fuisset victus et obrutus finxerunt soci eius eum in deum marinum esse conversum»
- Attilio Mastino, Eracle nel Giardino delle Esperidi e le Ninfe della Sardegna nell’Occidente Mediterraneo mitico, “Archivio Storico Sardo”, 2020
- Gantz, p. 16; Hesiod, Theogony 233–9 (Most, pp. 20–3).
- Gantz, p. 11; Kerenyi, p. 42; Plato, Timaeus 40d–e (pp. 86, 87).
- Hesiod, Theogony, 270–276.
- Hesiod, Theogony, 295–297. Though Herbert Jennings Rose says simply that it is "not clear which parents are meant", Athanassakis, p. 44, says that Phorcys and Ceto are the "more likely candidates for parents of this hideous creature who proceeded to give birth to a series of monsters and scourges". The problem arises from the ambiguous referent of the pronoun "she" in line 295 of the Theogony. While some have read this "she" as referring to Callirhoe (e.g. Smith "Echidna"; Morford, p. 162), according to Clay, p. 159 n. 32, "the modern scholarly consensus" reads Ceto, see for example Gantz, p. 22; Caldwell, pp. 7, 46 295–303; Grimal, s.v. Echidna, p. 143.
- Hesiod, Theogony, 333–335.
- Pherecydes, fr. 16b Fowler; Apollodorus, Library 2.5.11; Hyginus, Fabulae Preface, 151.
- Apollodorus, E7.20. Similarly the Plato scholiast, perhaps following Apollodorus, gives the mother as Crataeis and the father as Tyrrhenus or Phorcus, while Eustathius on Homer, Odyssey 12.85 gives the father as Triton. Homer, Odyssey 12.124–125; Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.749, have Crataeis as mother with no father mentioned; see also Servius on Virgil Aeneid 3.420; and schol. on Plato, Republic 588c. For discussions of the parentage of Scylla, see Fowler 2013, p. 32, Ogden, p. 134; Gantz, pp. 731–732; and Frazer's note to Apollodorus, E7.20.
- Fowler 2013, p. 31; Sophocles, fr. 861 Lloyd-Jones, pp. 376, 377.
- Smith, s.v. Phorcus, Phorcys; Homer, Odyssey 1.71–3.
- Apollodorus, Apollodorus, The Library, with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Athanassakis, Apostolos N, Hesiod: Theogony, Works and days, Shield, JHU Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8018-7984-5.
- Caldwell, Richard, Hesiod's Theogony, Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company (June 1, 1987). ISBN 978-0-941051-00-2.
- Clay, Jenny Strauss, Hesiod's Cosmos, Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-521-82392-0.
- Fowler, R. L. (2000), Early Greek Mythography: Volume 1: Text and Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0198147404.
- Fowler, R. L. (2013), Early Greek Mythography: Volume 2: Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0198147411.
- Freeman, Kathleen, Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels, Fragmente Der Vorsokratiker, Harvard University Press, 1983. ISBN 9780674035010.
- Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: ISBN 978-0-8018-5360-9 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0-8018-5362-3 (Vol. 2).
- Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996. ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. Internet Archive.
- Hesiod, Theogony, in Hesiod, Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia, edited and translated by Glenn W. Most, Loeb Classical Library No. 57, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2018. ISBN 978-0-674-99720-2. Online version at Harvard University Press.
- Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A. T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd., 1919. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Hyginus, Gaius Julius, The Myths of Hyginus. Edited and translated by Mary A. Grant, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1960.
- Kerenyi, Karl 1951 (1980). The Gods of the Greeks.
- Morford, Mark P. O., Robert J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology, Eighth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-530805-1.
- Ogden, Daniel (2013), Drakōn: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Worlds, Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-955732-5. Google Books.
- Plato, Timaeus. Critias. Cleitophon. Menexenus. Epistles, translated by R. G. Bury, Loeb Classical Library No. 234, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1929. ISBN 978-0-674-99257-3. Online version at Harvard University Press.
- Rose, Herbert Jennings, "Echidna" in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Hammond and Scullard (editors), Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869117-3
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873).
- Sophocles, Fragments, edited and translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Loeb Classical Library No. 483, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-674-99532-1. Online version at Harvard University Press.