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Pontus (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, Pontus (or Pontos (Πόντος), English translation: "sea") was an ancient, pre-Olympian sea-god, one of the protogenoi, the "first-born". Pontus was the son of Gaia, the Earth: Hesiod [1] says that Gaia brought forth Pontus out of herself, without coupling.[2] For Hesiod, Pontus seems little more than a personification of the sea, ho pontos, "the Road", by which Hellenes signified the Mediterranean Sea.[3] With Gaia, he was the father of Nereus (the Old Man of the Sea), of Thaumas (the awe-striking "wonder" of the Sea, embodiment of the sea's dangerous aspects), of Phorcys and his sister-consort Ceto, and of the "Strong Goddess" Eurybia.[4] With the sea goddess Thalassa (whose own name simply means "sea" but is derived from a pre-Greek root), he fathered the Telchines. Compare the sea-Titan Oceanus, the Ocean-Stream that girdled the earth, who was more vividly realized than Pontus among the Hellenes. Nevertheless, Pontus was apparently personified in a description of a painting by the third century CE rhetorician Philostratus the Elder, Imagines[5]

In a Roman sculpture of the second century CE Pontus, rising from seaweed, grasps a rudder with his right hand and leans on the prow of a ship. He wears a mural crown, and accompanies Fortuna, whose draperies appear at the left, as twin patron deities of the Black Sea port of Tomis in Moesia.

Hesiod

She [Gaia] bore also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love.

Hesiod, Theogony (130)[2]

And Sea begat Nereus, the eldest of his children, who is true and lies not: and men call him the Old Man because he is trusty and gentle and does not forget the laws of righteousness, but thinks just and kindly thoughts. And yet again he got great Thaumas and proud Phorcys, being mated with Earth, and fair-cheeked Ceto and Eurybia who has a heart of flint within her.

Hesiod, Theogony (231–239)[2]

Hyginus

From Aether and Earth [i.e. Gaia]: Grief, Deceit, Wrath, Lamentation, Falsehood, Oath, Vengeance, Intemperance, Altercation, Forgetfulness, Sloth, Fear, Pride, Incest, Combat, Ocean, Themis, Tartarus, Pontus; and the Titans, Briareus, Gyges, Steropes, Atlas, Hyperion, and Polus, Saturn, Ops, Moneta, Dione; and three Furies – namely, Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone.

Hyginus, Fabulae Preface (translation by Mary Grant)

Notes

  1. Hesiod, Theogony, 116.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Evelyn-White, Hugh G. Ed. (1914). The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation. London: William Heinemann Ltd. 
  3. The Black Sea was the Greeks' ho pontos euxeinos, the "sea that welcomes strangers".
  4. Hesiod, Theogony, 233.
  5. Imagines 2. 15 2; (Theoi.com on-line translation by Fairbanks).

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Pontus (mythology). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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