Historical References to Oceanides

Historical References to Oceanides

| Odyssey || Illiad || Orphic Hymns || Theogony || Georgics |


Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. William Cowper. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1910. 352 - 353.

from Agamemnon's account of the aftermath of the death of Achilles:

At length we bore into the Greecian fleet
Thy body from the field; there, first, we cleansed
With tepid baths and oil'd thy shapely corse,
Then placed thee on thy bier, while many a Greek
Around thee wept, and shore his locks for thee.
Thy mother, also, hearing of thy death
With her immortal nymphs from the abyss
Arose and came; terrible was the sound
On the salt flood; a panic seized the Greeks,
And ev'ry warrior had return'd on board
That moment, had not Nestor, ancient Chief,
Illumed by long experience, interposed,
His counsels, ever wisest, wisest proved
Then also, and he thus address'd the host.
Sons of Achaia; fly not; stay, ye Greeks!
Thetis arrives with her immortal nymphs
From the abyss, to visit her dead son.
So he; and, by his admonition stay'd,
The Greeks fled not. Then, all around thee stood
The daughters of the Ancient of the Deep,
Mourning disconsolate; with heav'nly robes
They clothed thy corse, and all the Muses nine
Deplored thee in full choir with sweetest tones
Responsive, nor one Greecian hadst thou seen
Dry-eyed, such grief the Muses moved in all.

Book 24, lines 47-71

Homer. The Iliad of Homer. Trans. George Chapman. 3 vols. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1893. 3: 49 - 52.

from Book 18, following Achilles' discovery of the death of Patroclus:

                                             So terribly he mourn'd,
That Thetis, sitting in the deeps of her old father's seas,
Heard, and lamented. To her plaints the bright Nereides
Flock'd all, how many those dark gulfs soever comprehend.
There Glauce, and Cymodoce, and Spio, did attend,
Nesæa, and Cymothoe, and calm Amphithoe,
Thalia, Thoa, Panope, and swift Dynamene,
Actæa, and Limnoria, and Halia the fair
Fam'd for the beauty of her eyes, Amathia for her hair,
Iæra, Proto, Clymene, and curl'd Dexamene,
Pherusa, Doris, and with these the smooth Amphinome,
Chaste Galatea so renown'd, and Callianira, came,
With Doto and Orythia, to cheer the mournful dame.
Apseudes likewise visited, and Callianassa gave
Her kind attendance, and with her Agave grac'd the cave,
Nemertes, Mæra, followéd, Melita, Ianesse,
With Ianira, and the rest of those Nereides
That in the deep seas make abode; all which together beat
Their dewy bosoms; and to all, thus Thetis did repeat
Her cause of mourning: "Sisters, hear, how much the sorrows weigh,
Whose cries now call'd ye. Hapless I brought forth unhappily
The best of all the sons of men; who, like a well-set plant
In best soils, grew and flourishéd; and when his spirit did want
Employment for his youth and strength, I sent him with a fleet
To fight at Ilion; from whence his fate-confinéd feet
Pass all my deity to retire. The court of his high birth,
The glorious court of Peleüs, must entertain his worth
Never hereafter. All the life he hath to live with me
Must waste in sorrows. And this son I now am bent to see,
Being now afflicted with some grief not usually grave,
Whose knowledge and recure I seek." This said, she left her cave,
Which all left with her; swimming forth, the green waves, as they swom,
Cleft with their bosoms, curl'd, and gave quick way to Troy. Being come,
They all ascended, two and two, and trod the honour'd shore,
Till where the fleet of Myrmidons, drawn up in heaps, it bore.
There stay'd they at Achilles' ship; and there did Thetis lay
Her fair hand on her son's curl'd head, sigh'd, wept, and bade him say
What grief drew from his eyes those tears? "Conceal it not," said she,
"Till this hour thy uplifted hands have all things granted thee.
The Greeks, all thrust up at their sterns, have pour'd out tears enow,
And in them seen how much they miss remission of thy vow."
     He said, "'Tis true, Olympius hath done me all that grace,
But what joy have I of it all, when thus thrusts in the place
Loss of my whole self in my friend? Whom, when his foe had slain,
He spoil'd of those profanéd arms, that Peleus did obtain
From heav'n's high Pow'rs, solemnizing thy sacred nuptial bands,
As th' only present of them all, and fitted well their hands,
Being lovely, radiant, marvellous. O would to heav'n thy throne,
With these fair Deities of the sea, thou still hadst sat upon,
And Peleus had a mortal wife; since by his means is done
So much wrong to thy grievéd mind, my death being set so soon,
And never suff'ring my return to grace of Peleus' court!

Book 18, lines 30-81


The Mystical Initiations; or Hymns of Orpheus. Trans. Thomas Taylor. London: Printed for the Author, 1787. 147- 48.



The Fumigation from Myrrh.

O Thou, who dost the roots of Ocean keep
In seats cærulean, dæmon of the deep,
With fifty nymphs (attending in thy train,
Fair virgin artists) glorying thro' the main:
The dark foundation of the rolling sea
And Earth's wide bounds, belong much fam'd to thee:
Great dæmon, source of all, whose pow'r can make
The Earth's unmeasur'd, holy basis shake,
When blust'ring winds in secret caverns pent,
By thee excited, struggle hard for vent:
Come, blessed Nereus, listen to my pray'r,
And cease to shake the earth with wrath severe;
Send on our sacred rites abundant health,
With peace divine and necessary wealth.




The Fumigation from Aromatics.

Daughters of Nereus, resident in caves
Merg'd deep in Ocean, sporting thro' the waves;
Fanatic fifty nymphs, who thro' the main
Delight to follow in the Triton's train,
Rejoicing close behind their cars to keep;
Whose forms half wild, are nourish'd by the deep,
With other nymphs of different degree
Leaping and wand'ring thro' the liquid sea:
Bright, wat'ry dolphins, sonorous and gay,
Well pleas'd to sport with bacchanalian play;
Nymphs beauteous-ey'd, whom sacrifice delights,
Send rich abundance on our mystic rites;
For you at first disclos'd the rites divine,
Of holy Bacchus and of Proserpine,
Of fair Calliope from whom I spring,
And of Apollo bright, the Muse's king.


Hesiod. Trans. Richmond Lattimore. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959. 131, 137, 143 - 44.

from an account of the immortals born of Gaia:

Without any sweet act of love she produced the barren
sea, Pontos, seething in his fury of waves, and after this
she lay with Ouranos, and bore him deep-swirling Okeanos
the ocean-stream; and Koios, Krios, Hyperion, Iapetos,
and Theia too and Rheia, and Themis, and Mnemosyne,
Phoibe of the wreath of gold, and Tethys the lovely.

lines 131-36


from an account of the sea daughters born to Doris, daughter of Okeanos:

    To Nereus and to Doris of the lovely hair, daughter
of Okeanos the completely encircling river, there were born
in the barren sea daughters greatly beautiful even among goddesses:
Ploto and Eukrante and Amphitrite and Saö,
Eudora and Thetis, and Galene and Glauke,
Kymothoë and Speio, and Thoë and lovely Halia,
Pasithea and Erato, Eunike of the rose arms,
and graceful Melite and Eulimene and Agauë,
Doto and Proto, Dynamene and Pherousa,
Nesaië and Aktaië and Protomedeia,
Doris and Panopeia, and Galateia the beautiful,
Hippothoë the lovely and Hipponoë of the rose arms,
Kymodoke who, with Kymatolege and Amphitrite,
light of foot, on the misty face of the open water
easily stills the waves and hushes the winds in their blowing,
Kymo and Eïone, Halimede of the bright garland,
Glaukonome, the lover of laughter, and Pontoporeia,
Leagore and Euagore and Laomedeia,
Poulynoë and Autonoë and Lysianassa,
Euarne of the lovely figure and face of perfection,
Psamathe of the graceful form and shining Menippe,
Neso and Eupompe, and Themisto and Pronoë,
and Nemertes, whose mind is like that of her immortal father.
These were the daughters born to irreproachable Nereus,
fifty in all, and the actions they know are beyond reproach, also.

lines 240-64


from an account of the daughters of Tethys and Okeanos:

    She brought forth also a race apart of daughters, who with
Lord Apollo and the Rivers have the young in their keeping
all over the earth, since this right from Zeus is given them.
They are Peitho, Admete, Ianthe and Elektra,
Doris and Prymno and Ourania like a goddess,
Hippo and Klymene, Rhodeia and Kallirhoë,
Zeuxo and Klytia, and Idyia and Pasithoë,
Plexaura and Galaxaura and lovely Dione,
Melobosis and Thoë, and Polydora the shapely,
Kerkeïs of the lovely stature, and ox-eyed Plouto,
Xanthe and Akaste, Perseïs and Ianeira,
Petraië the lovely, and Menestho, and Europa,
Metis and Eurynome, Telesto robed in saffron,
Chryseïs, and Asia, and alluring Kalypso,
Eudora and Tyche, and Amphiro and Okyroë,
and Styx, who among them all has the greatest eminence.
Now these are the eldest of the daughters who were born to Tethys
and Okeanos, but there are many others beside these,
for there are three thousand light-stepping daughters of the Ocean
scattered far and wide, bright children among the goddesses, and all
alike look after the earth and the depths of the standing water;
and as many again are the rest of the Rivers, murmurously running,
sons of Okeanos and the lady Tethys was their mother,
and it would be hard for a mortal man to tell the names
of all of them; but each is known by those who live by him.

lines 346-370

The Georgics and Eclogues of Virgil. Trans. Theodore Chickering Williams. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1915. 111 - 13.

from an account of the response the shepherd Aristaeus receives after he complains to Cyrene of the many woes that have befallen him:

Now from her chamber deep below the wave
His mother heard his voice. Her nymphs hard by
Sat in a circle spinning from their looms
Rare fleeces dipped in hues of hyaline:
Ligea, Xantho, with Phyllodoce
And Drymo, o'er whose snowy necks flowed down
Their gleaming hair, Cydippe and gold-tressed
Lycorias, the one a virgin free.
The other to the labors lately come
Of motherhood; there were the sisters twain
Clio and Beroe, ocean's daughters both,
In golden zone and gorgeous mantles clad;
Deiopea, Opis, Ephyre
And fleet-foot Arethusa, who at last
Had laid her arrows by. This sea-nymph throng
Was listening to the tales of Clymene:
Of Vulcan's fruitless caution and the guile
Of amorous Mars that gained him stolen joy;
And of unnumbered loves of gods she told,
Since first the world began. So while their hands
Twirled from the spindles the soft threads of wool,
They heard th' enchanting burden of her song.
But once again upon his mother's ear
Smote Aristaeus' cry, and those sea-nymphs
Listened amazed upon their crystal thrones.
Then Arethusa, ere her sisters spoke,
Uplifting from the wave her golden brow,
Thus called from far: "Cyrene, sister mine,
Hear not in vain that terrifying cry.
Behold thy darling and thy chiefest care,
Unhappy Aristaeus, stands in tears
On brink of Peneus' wave, and on thy name
Calls loud to tell thee of thy cruelty."
Once more the mother with unwonted fear
Trembled at heart: "Oh, hither where we dwell
Show him his way," she said, "Grant him the boon
To cross yon threshold of divine abodes."
Straightway she gave command that far and wide
The opening river floods should yield free path
To the young shepherd's feet.  And lo! the waves
Rose like a hilltop round him and received
In vast embrace, letting the hero pass
Deep down below the river. Now his eyes
Gazed wondering on his goddess-mother's realm.
He passed through watery kingdoms, by dark lakes
All cavern-girdled, by loud-roaring groves.
Then by the noise of mighty floods struck dumb
He saw vast rivers flowing under earth
Each in its region due. The Phasis there
And Lycus he could see, and that first well
Whence breaks to birth Enipeus' stream profound.
There Father Tiber rose, and Anio's
Swift current, rock-bound, echoing Hypanis,
Caicus, Mysia's stream; there golden-horned,
His countenance a bull, Eridanus
That with more fury than all floods beside
Sweeps through rich farms to meet the purple sea.

Soon came the youth beneath the pendent stone
That roofed his mother's halls. Cyrene saw
Her son's unfruitful tears. Her sisters brought,
In order due, ablution for his hands
And napkins of shorn fringe; they piled the board
With feasting and with wine-cups oft refilled.
The sacred altars blazed with fragrant fires.
The mother cried: "Bring forth a brimming bowl
Of Lydian vintage. We make offering
Unto the ocean's god."  Wherewith she prayed
To ocean the great parent, and the nymphs:
A hundred haunt the groves, a hundred guard
The rivers, and they are her sisters all.

Book 4, lines 336-87