The Minor Sea Goddess
Amphitrite is a minor Greek goddess, one of several who ruled the seas. Originally, she was known as the wife of sea-god Poseidon, but over time, she was set aside as merely his mistress.
A beautiful goddess, she was the daughter of Nereus, a minor sea god, and Doris, a sea nymph. And ancient Greek poet wrote that Poseidon saw her dancing and fell in love with her. Being a king, he assumed that he could just carry her off, but she escaped his clutches and ran away, swimming far across the seas to the very end of the water, where there was a place called Atlas.
Amphitrite hid there for some time, but Poseidon was not to be denied. He hunted for her under every barnacle and bit of seaweed. Searching among the fishes and sea creatures for his lost love. Frustrated at not being able to find her, he sent his precious pet dolphin out to look for her, thinking that a dolphin would have better luck and get the job done faster.
He was right. The dolphin went all the way to Atlas, and talked to Amphitrite in a soothing and comforting voice, persuading her that Poseidon really did love her and would not harm her. Finally, she agreed to return with the dolphin and become Poseidon’s wife.
The two were married in a great celebration. As a reward to the dolphin, it is said that Poseidon gave it a place in the heavens, where it is now the constellation Delphinus.
Amphitrite doesn’t make many appearances after that, but she does show up in various works of art from the time. In them she wears the robes of a queen, and carries a three-pointed scepter called a trident. It is much like Poseidon’s trident, only smaller. Sometimes she is shown with crab claws in her hair, curving around her face like a helmet.
Over time, Amphitrite’s her influence as a goddess lessened, and now her name is one of many words that symbolize the sea.
More Facts About Amphitrite
- The “Bibliotheca,” a collection of Greek myths and legends collected in the 1st or 2nd century, describes Amphitrite as a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys.
- Amphitrite at first didn’t want to marry Poseidon and hid from him.
- Another god, Delphin, talked Amphitrite into marrying Poseidon and earned a place in the sky.
- Just as the Romans called Poseidon Neptune, they called Amphitrite Salacia.
- The Romans considered Salacia to be the goddess of salt water.
- Amphitrite is also believed to have given birth to a variety of sea-creatures including seals and dolphins.
- Poseidon wasn’t a good husband and cheated on Amphitrite with other nymphs and goddesses.
- On one occasion, Amphitrite got so angry that she tossed magical herbs in the nymph Scylla’s bath, and the herbs turned Scylla into a horrible monster.
- Later Greeks viewed Amphitrite as a personification of the sea, which was also called Thalassa.
- Many ships in both the US and British Royal Navies were named after this goddess.
- There is also an asteroid called 29 Amphitrite.
- The Louvre has a statue of Amphitrite that was carved by Jacques Prou in the early 18th century.
- “The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite,” which was painted by Nicole (Nicolas) Poussin in 1634, depicts their marriage.
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