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Myths & Legends: Greek Marine Deities

If Greece is the stuff of dreams, it also fascinates the sailors who enjoy sailing its waters lulled by myths and legends. For if Greek mythology amazes visitors to the temples, it adds a touch of magic once at sea. You too can plunge into the history of ancient Greece by sailing on the sparkling waters protected by several marine deities.


Difficult indeed to talk about the marine pantheon without mentioning the name of Poseidon, the most famous of the Olympian deities. Brother of Hades, god of the underworld, and Zeus, Poseidon reigns over the seas with his famous trident. The latter gave birth to a long line of Cronian sea gods. Proteus, Rhodos, Aeolus, Theseus are among the gods and heroes of the seas.

But Poseidon also gave birth to several monsters such as the Cyclops who created the trident and arrows of Artemis. A few mortals, descendants of the sea god, were also born following the example of Cercyon or Nauplios, son of Amymone and founder of the city of Nafplio.

The nymphs

Marine nymphs also find a prominent place in the list of sea deities. Also found in Roman legends, nymphs are considered to be women endowed with various powers, like Nereus who could transform herself into all sorts of living creatures.

Nymphs are particularly numerous in the Greek marine pantheon. You will therefore hear names such as the Alcyonides, twelve bird nymphs who threw themselves into the sea and transformed themselves into alcyons (kingfishers) after the death of their father, Haliades, the nymphs of the rocky squares and coasts, Hyades, the rain nymphs, etc.


Greek marine mythology also speaks of mermaids who symbolized the souls of the dead. Originally, mermaids were considered to be man-headed birds and charmed weak men with their bewitching song to lead them to death.

After the influence of legends from the Nordic countries, mermaids became fish-tailed women. Daughters of Acheloos, according to Greek legend, the mermaids would gather on an island at the entrance to the Strait of Sicily, not far from the island of Aeas.

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