Ceto

Summary

Ceto
A part of the frieze depicting a woman with her back to us, looking to the left. There are other figures partially visible, including a lion.
The goddess Ceto aiding her father Pontus in the mythological war known as the Gigantomachy — c. 166–156 BC — Gigantomachy Frieze, Pergamon Altar of Zeus
AbodeSea
Personal information
ParentsPontus and Gaia
SiblingsNereus, Thaumas, Phorcys and Eurybia
ConsortPhorcys
ChildrenThe Hesperides, The Gorgons, The Graeae, Thoosa, Echidna, Ladon and all sea Monsters, the Sirens

Ceto (/ˈst/; Ancient Greek: Κητώ, romanizedKētṓ, lit.'sea monster') is a primordial sea goddess in Greek mythology, the daughter of Pontus and his mother, Gaia. As a mythological figure, she is considered to be one of the most ancient deities, and bore a host of monstrous children fathered by Phorcys, another child of the Titans. The small solar system body 65489 Ceto was named after her, and its satellite after Phorcys.

Ceto was also variously called Crataeis[citation needed] (Κράταιις, Krataiis, from κραταιίς "mighty") and Trienus[citation needed] (Τρίενος, Trienos, from τρίενος "within three years"), and was occasionally conflated by scholars with the goddess Hecate (for whom Crataeis and Trienus are also epithets).

This goddess should not be confused with the minor Oceanid also named Ceto, or with various mythological beings referred to as ketos (plural kētē or ketea); this is a general term for "sea monster" in Ancient Greek.[1]

In ancient texts

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

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.

Ceto is possibly the mother of the Nemean lion and the Sphinx by her grandson Orthrus.[2]

Homer refers to Thoosa, the mother of Polyphemus in the Odyssey, as a daughter of Phorcys, but does not indicate whether Ceto is her mother.

Pliny the Elder mentions worship of "storied Ceto" at Joppa (now Jaffa), in a single reference, immediately after his mention of Andromeda, whom Perseus rescued from a sea-monster. S. Safrai and M. Stern suggest the possibility that someone at Joppa established a cult of the monster under the name Ceto. As an alternative explanation, they posit that Pliny or his source misread the name cetus—or that of the Syrian goddess Derceto.[3]

Genealogy

GaiaUranus
OceanusTethys
The PotamoiThe Oceanids
PontusThalassa
NereusThaumasPhorcysCetoEurybiaThe TelchinesHaliaPoseidonAphrodite[4]
EchidnaGorgonGraeaeLadonHesperidesThoosa[5]HeliosRhodos
SthenoDeinoHeliadaeElectryone
EuryaleEnyo
Medusa[6]Pemphredo

References

  1. ^ "κῆτος" in Liddell, Henry and Robert Scott. 1996. A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised by H.S. Jones and R. McKenzie. Ninth edition, with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  2. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 326–327. Who is meant as the mother is unclear, the problem arising from the ambiguous referent of the pronoun "she" in line 326 of the Theogony, see Clay, p.159, note 34
  3. ^ Colitur illic fabulosa Ceto. Pliny, Book 5, chapter 14, §69; this same paragraph will be referred to as v.14, v.69, V.xiv.69; and v.13 (one of the chapter divisions is missing in some MSS). For Ceto as a transferred name, see Rackham's Loeb translation; for emendations, see The Jewish people in the first century. Historical geography, political history, social, cultural and religious life and institutions. Ed. by S. Safrai and M. Stern in co-operation with D. Flusser and W. C. van Unnik, Vol II, p. 1081, and Oldfather's translation of Pliny (Derceto).
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Homer, Odyssey, 1.70–73, names Thoosa as a daughter of Phorcys, without specifying a mother.
  6. ^ 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.

References

  • 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. ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
  • Hesiod, Theogony from The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
  • Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919. ISBN 978-0674995611. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.

Further reading

  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Bartelink, Dr. G.J.M. (1988). Prisma van de mythologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.