What Does Glaucus’ Name Mean?
While some sources spell his name as Glaukos or Glaucos, Glaucus’ name translates as “sea-gray.”
What Was Glaucus the God Of?
As he worked the seas as a fisherman in his mortal life, Glaucus was commonly seen as an ally to sailors and fishermen whom had the poor fortune of being caught within a storm. While prophecies are not part of his portfolio, Glaucus was also known to use his godly abilities to tell people about their futures.
How Did Glaucus Become a God?
There are three major explanations for Glaucus’ “apotheosis,” his transformation from a human into a divine being.
Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” claims that Glaucus found a magical herb that could revive the dead fish that he would catch as a fisherman. Intrigued, Glaucus tries eating the herb and discovers that while the herb’s magic granted him immortality, it also changes his arms into fins and his legs into a fish tail; some re-tellings simplify things by saying he was turned into a merman. While this Glaucus was initially depressed that he would have to spend eternity under the water, the gods Oceanus and Tethys felt he was an agreeable enough to ascend into godhood and learn about prophesies from his new godly friends.
Another story claims that Glaucus was running after a hare along Mt. Oreia, causing the hare to lose its footing and nearly die. Glaucus caught the hare and brought it to a spring, rubbing it with some of herbs he found nearby. These herbs revived the hare and Glaucus thought it might do something similar if he ate it. The story goes that the herb made him go mad with divine energies and Zeus needed to intervene by directing Glaucus into the sea during a thunderstorm.
According to Athenaeus and Possis, Glaucus, instead of Argus, built and piloted the Argo. Glaucus was knocked overboard during a naval battle between the Argonauts and Etruscans and Zeus decided to bestow Glaucus with godhood.
Who Were Glaucus’ Parents?
Glaucus’ heritage is a bit muddy and there are four sources which claim different parents. According to the “Bacchic Odes” of Theolytus, Glaucus’s father was Copeus but makes no mention of his mother.
The “Half Iambics” of Promathides say Glaucus is the son of King Polybus and Euboea. This would mean that Glaucus was a prince of Sicyon.
Mnaseas’ “History of the Affairs of Europe, Book III” claims Glaucus to be descended from Anthedon and Alcyone, the latter of whom was one of Atlas’ daughters and who later became a star through Zeus’ influence.
Euanthes’ “Hymn to Glaucus” frames Glaucus as a demigod through a union between Poseidon and a sea nymph.
What Stories Mention Glaucus?
Glaucus appears within one major classical text, with references to the events of that text being made in other stories:
Book XIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. contains the story of “Glaucus and Scylla.” This tale covers Glaucus’ difficulty in pursuing the love of Scylla, a nymph, after his transformation into an ugly fishman. Glaucus consults with the witch Circe to find a cure despite her attraction to his fishy form. As Glaucus continually focuses on Scylla, ignoring Circe’s advances, Circe brews Glaucus a potion; while Circe explains that she has given Glaucus a love potion, the potion’s actually turns Scylla’s lower body into a mass of rabid dogs.
The previously mentioned Hymn to Glaucus describes one perspective on how this sea-god-to-be came into the world.
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