Ceto (also Keto, from Greek: Κητώ, "sea monster") is a primordial sea goddess in Greek mythology, the daughter of Gaia and Pontus. Ceto was also variously called Krataiis (Κράταιις, acc. Κράταιιν, from κραταιίς "mighty") and Trienos (Τρίενος from τρίενος "within three years"), and was occasionally conflated by scholars with the goddess Hecate (for whom Trienos and Krataiis are also epithets). As a mythological figure, she is most notable for bearing by her husband Phorcys a host of monstrous children, collectively known as the Phorcydes. The asteroid 65489 Ceto was named after her, and its satellite after her husband.
This goddess should not be confused with the minor Oceanid also named Ceto —who appears in Hesiod's Theogony as a separate character from Ceto the daughter of Pontus and Gaia—or with various mythological beings referred to as ketos (plural ketea); this is a general term for "sea monster" in Ancient Greek.
Ceto 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 and Pemphredo), 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.
Apollodorus and Homer refer to Scylla as the daughter of Krataiis, with Apollodorus specifying that she is also Phorcys's daughter. Apollodorus also refers to Scylla as the daughter of Trienos, implying that Krataiis and Trienos are the same entity. Apollonius cites Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys and a conflated Krataiis-Hekate. Stesichorus refers to Scylla as a daughter of Phorcys and Lamia (potentially translated as "the shark" and referring to Ceto rather than to the mythological Libyan Queen).
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.
Homer refers to Thoosa, the mother of Polyphemus, as a daughter of Phorcys, but does not indicate whether Ceto is her mother.
Pliny 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 as cetus - or the Syrian goddess Derceto.
- ↑ "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.
- ↑ 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).
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