Thalassa (mythology)

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Detail from the Wiener Dioskurides, before 512

In Greek mythology, Thalassa (/θəˈlæsə/; Greek: Θάλασσα, "sea")[1] is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. She and sea god Pontus were the parents of the nine Telchines and Halia. According to a myth recounted by Hesiod, she gave birth to Aphrodite when Cronus cut the genitalia of Uranus that subsequently fell into the sea. Thalassa is a personification of the sea itself; as told in Aesop's Fables she appears as a woman rising up from the depths of the sea, as well in Roman-era mosaics. In these mosaics she is depicted with crab-claw-horns, wearing seaweed, and holding a ship's oar. Her counterpart is considered to be Amphitrite who is the wife of Poseidon. Her other counterpart can be considered to be the Greek titan Tethys.[citation needed]

In 2011, Swoon created a site-specific installation depicting the goddess in the atrium of the New Orleans Museum of Art.[2]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 530).
  2. ^ "SWOON: THALASSA - The Great Hall Project". 
  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]