Thetis (/ˈθɛtɪs/; Greek: Θέτις [tʰétis]), is a figure from Greek mythology with varying mythological roles. She mainly appears as a sea nymph, a goddess of water, or one of the 50 Nereids, daughters of the ancient sea god Nereus.
When described as a Nereid in Classical myths, Thetis was the daughter of Nereus and Doris, and a granddaughter of Tethys with whom she sometimes shares characteristics. Often she seems to lead the Nereids as they attend to her tasks. Sometimes she also is identified with Metis.
Some sources argue that she was one of the earliest of deities worshipped in Archaic Greece, the oral traditions and records of which are lost. Only one written record, a fragment, exists attesting to her worship and an early Alcman hymn exists that identifies Thetis as the creator of the universe. Worship of Thetis as the goddess is documented to have persisted in some regions by historical writers such as Pausanias.
Most extant material about Thetis concerns her role as mother of Achilles, but there is some evidence that as the sea-goddess she played a more central role in the religious beliefs and practices of Archaic Greece. The pre-modern etymology of her name, from tithemi (τίθημι), "to set up, establish," suggests a perception among Classical Greeks of an early political role. Walter Burkert considers her name a transformed doublet of Tethys.
In Iliad I, Achilles recalls to his mother her role in defending, and thus legitimizing, the reign of Zeus against an incipient rebellion by three Olympians, each of whom has pre-Olympian roots:
You alone of all the gods saved Zeus the Darkener of the Skies from an inglorious fate, when some of the other Olympians – Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene – had plotted to throw him into chains ... You, goddess, went and saved him from that indignity. You quickly summoned to high Olympus the monster of the hundred arms whom the gods call Briareus, but mankind Aegaeon, a giant more powerful even than his father. He squatted by the Son of Cronos with such a show of force that the blessed gods slunk off in terror, leaving Zeus free
- — E.V. Rieu translation
Quintus of Smyrna, recalling this passage, does write that Thetis once released Zeus from chains; but there is no other reference to this rebellion among the Olympians, and some readers, such as M. M. Willcock, have understood the episode as an ad hoc invention of Homer's to support Achilles' request that his mother intervene with Zeus. Laura Slatkin explores the apparent contradiction, in that the immediate presentation of Thetis in the Iliad is as a helpless minor goddess overcome by grief and lamenting to her Nereid sisters, and links the goddess's present and past through her grief. She draws comparisons with Eos' role in another work of the epic Cycle concerning Troy, the lost Aethiopis, which presents a strikingly similar relationship – that of the divine Dawn, Eos, with her slain son Memnon; she supplements the parallels with images from the repertory of archaic vase-painters, where Eos and Thetis flank the symmetrically opposed heroes, Achilles and Memnon, with a theme that may have been derived from traditional epic songs.
Thetis does not need to appeal to Zeus for immortality for her son, but snatches him away to the White Island Leuke in the Black Sea, an alternate Elysium where he has transcended death, and where an Achilles cult lingered into historic times.
Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke asserts that Thetis was courted by both Zeus and Poseidon, but she was married off to the mortal Peleus because of their fears about the prophecy by Themis (or Prometheus, or Calchas, according to others) that her son would become greater than his father. Thus, she is revealed as a figure of cosmic capacity, quite capable of unsettling the divine order. (Slatkin 1986:12)
When Hephaestus was thrown from Olympus, whether cast out by Hera for his lameness or evicted by Zeus for taking Hera's side, the Oceanid Eurynome and the Nereid Thetis caught him and cared for him on the volcanic isle of Lemnos, while he labored for them as a smith, "working there in the hollow of the cave, and the stream of Okeanos around us went on forever with its foam and its murmur" (Iliad 18.369).
Thetis is not successful in her role protecting and nurturing a hero (the theme of kourotrophos), but her role in succoring deities is emphatically repeated by Homer, in three Iliad episodes: as well as her rescue of Zeus (1.396ff) and Hephaestus (18.369), Diomedes recalls that when Dionysus was expelled by Lycurgus with the Olympians' aid, he took refuge in the Erythraean Sea with Thetis in a bed of seaweed (6.123ff). These accounts associate Thetis with "a divine past—uninvolved with human events—with a level of divine invulnerability extraordinary by Olympian standards. Where within the framework of the Iliad the ultimate recourse is to Zeus for protection, here the poem seems to point to an alternative structure of cosmic relations"
Zeus had received a prophecy that Thetis's son would become greater than his father, as Zeus had dethroned his father to lead the succeeding pantheon. In order to ensure a mortal father for her eventual offspring, Zeus and his brother Poseidon made arrangements for her to marry a human, Peleus, son of Aeacus, but she refused him.
Proteus, an early sea-god, advised Peleus to find the sea nymph when she was asleep and bind her tightly to keep her from escaping by changing forms. She did shift shapes, becoming flame, water, a raging lioness, and a serpent. Peleus held fast. Subdued, she then consented to marry him. Thetis is the mother of Achilles by Peleus, who became king of the Myrmidons.
According to classical mythology, the wedding of Thetis and Peleus was celebrated on Mount Pelion, outside the cave of Chiron, and attended by the deities: there they celebrated the marriage with feasting. Apollo played the lyre and the Muses sang, Pindar claimed. At the wedding Chiron gave Peleus an ashen spear that had been polished by Athene and had a blade forged by Hephaestus. While the Olympian goddesses brought him gifts: from Aphrodite, a bowl with an embossed Eros, from Hera a chlamys while from Athena a flute. His father-in-law Nereus endowed him a basket of the salt called 'divine', which has an irresistible virtue for overeating, appetite and digestion, explaining the expression '...she poured the divine salt'. Zeus then bestowed the wings of Arce to the newly-wed couple which was later given by Thetis to his son, Achilles. Furthermore, the god of the sea, Poseidon gave Peleus the immortal horses, Balius and Xanthus. Eris, the goddess of discord, had not been invited, however, and in spite, she threw a golden apple into the midst of the goddesses that was to be awarded only "to the fairest." In most interpretations, the award was made during the Judgement of Paris and eventually occasioned the Trojan War.
As is recounted in the Argonautica, written by the Hellenistic poet Apollonius of Rhodes, Thetis, in an attempt to make her son Achilles immortal, would burn away his mortality in a fire at night and during the day, she would anoint the child with ambrosia. When Peleus caught her searing the baby, he let out a cry.
"Thetis heard him, and catching up the child threw him screaming to the ground, and she like a breath of wind passed swiftly from the hall as a dream and leapt into the sea, exceeding angry, and thereafter returned never again."
In a variant of the myth first recounted in the Achilleid, an unfinished epic written between 94–95 AD by the Roman poet Statius, Thetis tried to make Achilles invulnerable by dipping him in the River Styx (one of the five rivers that run through Hades, the realm of the dead). However, the heel by which she held him was not touched by the Styx's waters and failed to be protected. (A similar myth of immortalizing a child in fire is seen in the case of Demeter and the infant Demophoon). Some myths relate that because she had been interrupted by Peleus, Thetis had not made her son physically invulnerable. His heel, which she was about to burn away when her husband stopped her, had not been protected.
Peleus gave the boy to Chiron to raise. Prophecy said that the son of Thetis would have either a long but dull life, or a glorious but brief one. When the Trojan War broke out, Thetis was anxious and concealed Achilles, disguised as a girl, at the court of Lycomedes, king of Skyros. When Odysseus found that one of the girls at court was not a girl, he came up with a plan. Raising an alarm that they were under attack, Odysseus knew that the young Achilles would instinctively run for his weapons and armour, thereby revealing himself. Seeing that she could no longer prevent her son from realizing his destiny, Thetis then had Hephaestus make a shield and armor.
Thetis played a key part in the events of the Trojan War. Beyond the fact that the Judgement of Paris, which essentially kicked off the war, occurred at her wedding, Thetis influenced the actions of the Olympians and her son, Achilles.
Nine years after the beginning of the Trojan War, Homer's Iliad starts with Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and the commander of the Achaeans, and Achilles, son of Thetis, arguing over Briseis, a war prize of Achilles. After initially refusing, Achilles relents and gives Briseis to Agamemnon. However, Achilles feels disrespect for having to give up Briseis and prays to Thetis, his mother, for restitution of his lost honor. She urges Achilles to wait until she speaks with Zeus to rejoin the fighting, and Achilles listens. When she finally speaks to Zeus, Thetis convinces him to do as she bids, and he seals his agreement with her by bowing his head, the strongest oath that he can make.
Following the death of Patroclus, who wore Achilles' armor in the fighting, Thetis comes to Achilles to console him in his grief. She vows to return to him with armor forged by Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, and tells him not to arm himself for battle until he sees her coming back. While Thetis is gone, Achilles is visited by Iris, the messenger of the gods, sent by Hera, who tells him to rejoin the fighting. He refuses, however, citing his mother's words and his promise to her to wait for her return. Thetis, meanwhile, speaks with Hephaestus and begs him to make Achilles armor, which he does. First, he makes for Achilles a splendid shield, and having finished it, makes a breastplate, a helmet, and greaves. When Thetis goes back to Achilles to deliver his new armor, she finds him still upset over Patroclus. Achilles fears that while he is off fighting the Trojans, Patroclus' body will decay and rot. Thetis, however, reassures him and places ambrosia and nectar in Patroclus' nose in order to protect his body against decay.
After Achilles uses his new armor to defeat Hector in battle, he keeps Hector's body to mutilate and humiliate. However, after nine days, the gods call Thetis to Olympus and tell her that she must go to Achilles and pass him a message, that the gods are angry that Hector's body has not been returned. She does as she is bid, and convinces Achilles to return the body for ransom, thus avoiding the wrath of the gods.
A noted exception to the general observation resulting from the existing historical records, that Thetis was not venerated as a goddess by cult, was in conservative Laconia, where Pausanias was informed that there had been priestesses of Thetis in archaic times, when a cult that was centered on a wooden cult image of Thetis (a xoanon), which preceded the building of the oldest temple; by the intervention of a highly placed woman, her cult had been re-founded with a temple; and in the second century AD she still was being worshipped with utmost reverence. The Lacedaemonians were at war with the Messenians, who had revolted, and their king Anaxander, having invaded Messenia, took as prisoners certain women, and among them Cleo, priestess of Thetis. The wife of Anaxander asked for this Cleo from her husband, and discovering that she had the wooden image of Thetis, she set up the woman Cleo in a temple for the goddess. This Leandris did because of a vision in a dream, but the wooden image of Thetis is guarded in secret.
In one fragmentary hymn  by the seventh century Spartan poet, Alcman, Thetis appears as a demiurge, beginning her creation with poros (πόρος) "path, track" and tekmor (τέκμωρ) "marker, end-post". Third was skotos (σκότος) "darkness", and then the sun and moon. A close connection has been argued between Thetis and Metis, another shape-shifting sea-power later beloved by Zeus but prophesied bound to produce a son greater than his father because of her great strength.
Herodotus noted that the Persians sacrificed to "Thetis" at Cape Sepias. By the process of interpretatio graeca, Herodotus identifies the deity of another culture as the familiar Hellenic "Thetis" a sea-goddess who was being propitiated by the Persians.
Thetis (THEE-tis; minor planet designation: 17 Thetis) and provisional designation A913 CA, is a stony asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 90 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 17 April 1852, by German astronomer Robert Luther at Bilk Observatory in Düsseldorf, Germany. He named his first asteroid discovery after Thetis from Greek mythology.Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles or Achilleus ( ə-KIL-eez; Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς, Achilleus [a.kʰil.'leu̯s]) was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and is the central character of Homer's Iliad. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia.
Achilles' most notable feat during the Trojan War was the slaying of the Trojan prince Hector outside the gates of Troy. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow. Later legends (beginning with Statius' unfinished epic Achilleid, written in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel because, when his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, she held him by one of his heels. Alluding to these legends, the term "Achilles' heel" has come to mean a point of weakness, especially in someone or something with an otherwise strong constitution. The Achilles tendon is also named after him due to these legends.Achilles' heel
An Achilles’ heel or Achilles heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.Arke
In ancient Greek religion, Arke or Arce (Greek: Ἄρκη Arkē) was a daughter of Thaumas and fraternal twin sister of Iris. She is sometimes affiliated with the faded second rainbow sometimes seen in the shadow of the first. She is said to have iridescent wings, compared to Iris' golden ones.During the Titanomachy, she sided with the Titans against the Olympian gods; she became the messenger for the Titans, while Iris became the messenger of the Olympian Gods.
When the Olympians won, Zeus punished Arke. She was deprived of her wings and cast into Tartarus, together with the vanquished Titans. Arke's wings were later given to Peleus and Thetis as a gift on their wedding day; Thetis later gave them to her son Achilles, which is thought to be the derivation of his surname Podarces (literally "swift-footed", as if from πούς, gen. ποδός "foot" + the name of Arke).HMS Thetis (N25)
HMS Thetis (N25) was a Group 1 T-class submarine of the Royal Navy which served under two names. Under her first identity, HMS Thetis, she commenced sea trials on 4 March 1939. She sank during trials on 1 June 1939 with the loss of 99 lives. She was salvaged, repaired and recommissioned as HMS Thunderbolt serving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres until she was lost with all hands on 14 March 1943.
This makes Thetis one of the few military vessels that have been lost twice with their crews in their service history.Jupiter and Thetis
Jupiter and Thetis is an 1811 painting by the French neoclassical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, in the Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France. Painted when the artist was yet 31, the work severely and pointedly contrasts the grandeur and might of a cloud-born Olympian male deity against that of a diminutive and half nude nymph. Ingres' subject matter is borrowed from an episode in Homer's Iliad when the sea nymph Thetis begs Jupiter to intervene and guide the fate of her son Achilles; who was at the time embroiled in the Trojan War.Les Aventures de Pélée
Les Aventures de Pélée (The Adventures of Peleus; Russian: Приключения Пелея) is a ballet in three acts and five scenes with choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Ludwig Minkus, with additional music adapted from works by Léo Delibes. The libretto by Marius Petipa is derived from the Greek Myth concerning the Goddess Thetis and the circumstances surrounding her marriage, arranged by Jupiter (or Zeus), to the mortal Peleus.
It was first presented by the Imperial Ballet on January 30 [O.S. January 18] 1876 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kammeny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Eugeniia Sokolova (as the Goddess Thetis), Pavel Gerdt (as Peleus), Lyubov Savitskaya (as Cupid), Mariia Gorshenkova (as Venus), Christian Johansson (as Jupiter), Lev Ivanov (as Adonis), and Platon Karsavin (as Triton).Mount Thetis
Mount Thetis is a mountain in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, Australia. It is part of the Pelion Range and is situated within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It is a major feature of the national park, and is a popular venue with bushwalkers and mountain climbers.
With an elevation of 1,482 metres (4,862 ft) above sea level, Mount Thetis is the twentieth-highest mountain in Tasmania.Nereus
In Greek mythology, Nereus (; Ancient Greek: Νηρεύς) was the eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth), who with Doris fathered the Nereids and Nerites, with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean Sea.Peleus
In Greek mythology, Peleus (; Ancient Greek: Πηλεύς Pēleus, "muddy") was a hero, king of Phthia and the father of Achilles. His myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BC.Red-necked pademelon
The red-necked pademelon (Thylogale thetis) is a forest-dwelling marsupial living in the eastern coastal region of Australia.SMS Thetis
SMS Thetis was the fourth member of the ten-ship Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig, laid down in 1899, launched in July 1900, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in September 1901. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Thetis was capable of a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).
Thetis served in the reconnaissance forces of the High Seas Fleet during her peacetime career. After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, she was deployed as a coastal defense ship in the Baltic, where she saw heavy service against the Russians. She supported the German drive on Libau in April–May 1915, and was damaged by mines during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga. She was repeatedly attacked by Allied submarines, though she was never hit. In 1917, Thetis was withdrawn from front-line service for use as a gunnery training ship. She survived the war and continued on in service with the Reichsmarine through the 1920s. She was stricken from the naval register on 29 March 1929 and broken up for scrap the following year.Thetis-class patrol vessel
The Thetis-class ocean patrol vessels or ocean patrol frigates, also called Stanflex 3000, is a class of large patrol vessels built for the Royal Danish Navy. The class comprises four ships, all built and commissioned in the early 1990s. The ships' tasks are mainly maintenance of sovereignty, search and rescue, fishery inspection and support to local (mainly Greenlandic) authorities. The operation areas are normally Greenland and the Faroe Islands, but the vessels also operate near Iceland on transit between Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and near Denmark.Thetis (island)
Thetis (Greek: Θέτις) is a small islet off the southern coast of the Greek island of Crete in the Libyan Sea. The islet is administered from Asterousia in Heraklion regional unit.Thetis Island
Thetis Island (population: 389) is an island and unincorporated community off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, lying between Vancouver Island, which is to the west across Stuart Channel, and the west from the north tip of Galiano Island, from which it is separated by Trincomali Channel. With its immediate southern neighbour Penelakut Island (formerly Kuper Island), it is one of the Gulf Islands. Thetis island is 2,560 acres (1,036 ha) in size. It is approximately two miles (3.2 kilometres) wide and three miles (4.8 kilometres) long north to south. Two north to south land ridges define the east and west sides of the island. Burchell Hill is 591 metres (1,939 feet) above sea level, and forms the high point on the west side of Thetis island, and Moore Hill is 585 metres (1,919 feet) above sea level, and forms the high point ridge on the east side of the island.Thetis Lake
Thetis Lake is a name that refers to two freshwater lakes (Upper and Lower Thetis) connected by a narrow culvert in the 834-hectare (2,060-acre) Thetis Lake Regional Park outside Victoria, British Columbia, about 12 km (7.5 mi) from the city centre. It was established as Canada's first nature sanctuary in 1958. The park was named for the frigate HMS Thetis, which had been assigned to Esquimalt as part of the Royal Navy's Pacific Squadron. Thetis is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient sea god Nereus. The park's facilities include several beaches, miles of forest trails, parking, washrooms and a change room. The two lakes are extremely popular in the summer. The area features many Garry Oak and Douglas fir trees.USCGC Argo (WPC-100)
The USCGC Argo (WPC-100) was a Thetis-class patrol boat belonging to the United States Coast Guard launched on 12 November 1932 and commissioned on 6 January 1933.USCGC Triton (WPC-116)
USCGC Triton (WPC-116), a steel-hulled, diesel-powered Thetis-class patrol boat of the United States Coast Guard, was the fourth commissioned ship of the United States to be named for Triton, a Greek demigod of the sea who was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. She served almost simultaneously with the submarine of the same name. Today, she serves as a tour boat in New York City for Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and carries the name Circle Line XVII.USS Thetis Bay
USS Thetis Bay (CVE-90/CVHA-1/LPH-6) was a Casablanca-class escort carrier of the United States Navy. Though not the last of the class to be built, she was the last Casablanca class hull to be scrapped.
Thetis Bay was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1127) on 22 December 1943 at Vancouver, Washington, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company; launched on 16 March 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Ricco Botta; and commissioned on 21 April 1944, Captain Donald E. Wilcox in command.
The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships says Thetis Bay is "an inlet at the south end of Tebenkof Bay on the west coast of Kuiu Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska."
Ancient Greek deities by affiliation