ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • Ancient History»
  • Greek & Roman History

The Sea God Phorcys in Greek Mythology

Updated on February 24, 2015
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

Water is essential to life on earth, and in Ancient Greece, all different types of water were revered; with every river, stream, well and spring having a minor god or goddess associated with it. It was though, not just freshwater that had deities linked with it, and seas and oceans had their own even more powerful gods.

Seas and oceans, to the Ancient Greeks, were dangerous places to traverse, but could also provide bountiful catches of fish, and so it was only right that a strong deity was associated with such areas.

Today, the most famous sea-god from Greek mythology is Poseidon, but the brother of Zeus was a relatively newcomer to the pantheon of Greek sea-gods. Poseidon indeed was predated by the sea-gods, Pontus, Oceanus, Nereus and Phorcys.

Mosaic of Phorcys

Dennis Jarvis - Flickr: Tunisia-4751 - Phorkys CC-BY-SA-2.0
Dennis Jarvis - Flickr: Tunisia-4751 - Phorkys CC-BY-SA-2.0 | Source

Phorcys in Greek Mythology

Phorcys was the son of the primordial deities Pontus (Sea) and Gaia (Earth), making him brother to Thaumas (sea wonders), Nereus (sea wisdom), Eurybia (mastery of the seas) and Ceto (sea dangers). Phorcys himself was the personification of the dangers of the sea’s depths, and the creatures that dwelt within it.

In antiquity, Phorcys was normally depicted as a grey-haired merman, with the tail of a fish. In addition to the normal imagery of the merman, Phorcys also had forelegs in the shape of crab claws, and crab-like skin. Strangely for an underwater deity, Phorcys is also often shown with a lit torch.

The Graeae Children of Phorcys

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898) PD-art-100
Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898) PD-art-100 | Source

The Phorcydes - the Children of Phorcys

Rather than any particular myth, Phorcys is arguably more famous for his offspring, and Phorcys and Ceto were parents to many famous figures.

The Gorgons – The three Gorgons, Euryale, Stheno and Medusa, are today the most well known of Phorcys’ children; and the daughters of Phorcys are famously depicted in the adventure of Perseus, when the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, was decapitated by the Greek hero. The three Gorgons were the personification of the reefs and underwater rocks that caught out the unwary sailor.

The Graeae – The Graeae were also three in number, and were normally named as Deino, Enyo and Pemphredo. These three daughters of Phorcys also appeared in the myth of Perseus, for they were the guardians of the location of the Gorgons. The three Graeae, who shared one eye and one tooth, were forced to give up their secret by Perseus. The Graeae were the personification of sea foam.

Heracles and Ladon

Antonio Tempesta (Italy, Florence, 1555-1630), Nicolo Van Aelst (Flanders, 1527-1612) PD-art-100
Antonio Tempesta (Italy, Florence, 1555-1630), Nicolo Van Aelst (Flanders, 1527-1612) PD-art-100 | Source

Echidna – Whilst not as famous as the Gorgons, the monstrous she-dragon, is actually named in many more stories. Echidna would partner with Typhon, and as well as producing many of the most famous monsters in Greek mythology, including the Chimera, Cerberus and the Sphinx, the pair would also go to war with the gods of Mount Olympus.

Ladon – Ladon was the snake-dragon that resided in the garden of the Hesperides, and guarded Hera’s sacred apples. Ladon was famously encountered by Heracles in one of his 12 Labours.

These offspring were named by Hesiod in the Theogony, the ancient source that is most comprehensive in such matters, but other sources also name additional offspring.

Homer calls Phorcys the father of Thoosa, who in turn was mother to Polyphemus; whilst Apollonius Rhodius also claims that the monstrous sea crab Scylla, was also an offspring of Phorcys.

Awareness of the dangers beneath the waves was an important aspect of mariners in Ancient Greece, and so this awareness was personified in the form of the dangerous sea-god Phorcys.

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)