Greek mythology: Doris the Oceanid

According to wikipedia.org, Hesiod along with Homer was a Greek oral poet whose work has survived the centuries. His writings on farming, astronomy, time-keeping and mythology serve as a major source of information for scholars. One of his works, Theogony, explains the origins of the cosmos and the genealogy of the gods.

Doris - Public Domain

Doris – Public Domain

There is very little known about Doris and she is barely mentioned in any myths or legends. According to Hesiod, Doris was the daughter of the Titan, Oceanus and Tethys, the Titaness.

Doris was an Oceanid, or sea nymph, and was the sister of many other such nymphs such as Clymene, Calypso, Styx, Metis, and Tyche. The Oceanids were named from their father, Oceanus. Doris was also the aunt of Atlas whose task was to carry the world on his shoulder. Her sister Clymene was the mother of Atlas.

She is briefly mentioned in the myth of Phaethon for taking refuge in the darkest places of the earth with her husband to escape the excessive heat of Phaethon’s fiery ride in the chariot of Helios. A ride which nearly destroyed the world.

In Greek mythology she was the wife of the sea god Nereus and between them they were parents of the Nereids, These were fifty in number and were very beautiful and include Psamathe, Galatea, Amphitrite, and Thetis.

The most famous of these was Thetis, who was the mother of Achilles and Galatae who Polphemus the Cyclops fell in love with. Galatae rejected Polphemus and instead fell in love with a shepherd, Acis. Polphemus killed Acis with a boulder in revenge.

Arethusa, a nymph, was also a daughter of Doris changed by Artemis into a fountain so she could escape the pursuit of Alpheus.

The Nereids also played a part in the myth of Jason and the Argonauts by helping to guide the ship in the encounter with Charbdys and Scylla, and the Wandering Rocks.

Nereus was sea god of some significance, being the son of the god Pontus, who was considered the personification of the sea, by Hesiod. He considered to be an old man with the gift of prophecy. He was known for his wisdom and devotion to truth and justice. He was also called the Old Man of the Sea.

She was not a resident goddess on Mount Olympus and Doris does not play a significant part in Greek mythology other than as wife to Nereus and mother to the Nereids. Her name means bounty of the sea and was the god of rich fishing grounds at the mouths of rivers, where fresh water mingles with salt water.

Copyright July 30, 2009 zteve t evans

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Copyright July 30, 2009 zteve t evans

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Greek mythology: The Moirai

In Classical Greek mythology the description of the Moirai differs from age to age and also with location. They vary in number from one to four. This discussion is based on the account of the Greek poet, Hesiod who was believed to have lived in the eighth century BC.

It was the task of the Moirai to shadow human beings from birth to death throughout their mortal, physical life on earth. They take the form of three old women spinning out the threads of each person’s life on earth.

Fates_tapestry

Their names were: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos and when death approaches, it is their task is to ensure that and the natural order is preserved and a person’s fate is meted out accordingly. They are believed to sing in harmony with the Sirens when death approaches and were also known as the Fates.

Clotho represents the thread of life that begins at the birth of a mortal and is the spinner of that thread and sings of those things that are.

Lachesis was the dealer of lots. Through her people were given their chances in life and it was up to them to make the best of it. It was she who measured the thread of life. She sings of the things that were.

Atropos is the smallest and most fearsome of the three and represented the irrevocable fate that awaits a person and in the end there can be no appeal. It was she who cut the thread of life at a mortal’s death. She sings of the things that will be.

The lives of all living things were presided over by the Moirai. They apportioned everyone their share of good and evil at birth. The manner in which they conducted their lives could change the allotted portions of good and evil.

Not even the gods could change fate and if Zeus alone had such power he was reluctant to use it to disturb the natural order of the world.

The only time the Moirai were foiled in their task was by the physician, Asclepius, the son of Apollo, who revived a man, bringing him back from death. The Moirai then persuaded Zeus to kill Asclepius with a thunderbolt.

Just as the Moirai were the delegates of Zeus to ensure the natural order was carried out the Keres task was to carry out the decrees of the Moirai, and were sometimes confused with them. It was the Keres who appeared at the final hour of a mortal’s life to ensure death.

It was believed that during battles they could be seen hovering over the doomed mortal ready to ensure his fate was complete. They killed the wounded and drank their blood and were also known as the dogs of Hades.

In Greek, the word moira means a part, or portion, and it was the Moirai who decided a mortal’s portion in life at their birth and followed their life to ensure destiny was fulfilled. The Moirai also had the gift of prophecy and were honoured among the gods sitting in their assemblies and giving advice on the destinies of mortals.

Their myth is perhaps best seen as a way to describe the fate of mortal human beings and to try and make some sense out of the human cycle of life and the ultimate destiny of death.

Copyright July 7, 2009 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright July 7, 2009 zteve t evans