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The Sea Goddesses of Greek Mythology

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Nymphs by Herbert James Draper. Sea goddesses play an interesting role in Greek mythology. Credit: Public Domain

Next time you see the waves crashing into a picturesque shoreline, think of the sea goddesses and underworld sea monsters in Greek mythology who create those swells.

There are two deities in particular to whom those who love to play in the sea and surf the waves might consider giving thanks to, namely Benthesikyme and Kymopoleia, the daughters of the famed god of the sea, Poseidon.

The sea goddesses Benthesikyme and Kymopoleia

Benthesikyme, a Greek goddess of the waves, is the daughter of Poseidon and one of his many wives Amphitrite, who was a sea goddess. Known as the “lady of the deep swells,” Benthesikyme was nymph of the African Sea and later went on to become the first known queen of Ethiopia.

Another goddess that conjures up some great surfing waves is Kymopoleia. Kymopoleia was a goddess of the waves just like Benthesikyme, but she is only mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony, which outlines all of the Greek gods and goddesses.

She was known as a “haliae,” or nymph of the sea who made waves, violent sea storms, and earthquakes. She went on to marry Briareus, who was a storm giant with a hundred arms and fifty heads.

The next time that you are around swelling waters or enjoying the waves, take a minute to remember the little-known sea deities in Greek mythology stirring up the seas.

The frightening sea creatures of Greek mythology

Not all sea deities or creatures in ancient Greece were benevolent. There were many frightening sea monsters in Greek mythology, but, perhaps, the most frightening sea monsters are Scylla and Charybdis.

In the greatest of all Greek epic poems, Homer’s Odyssey, which was composed sometime around the seventh or eighth century B.C., on his way back home from Troy, the hero must make the impossible decision of choosing between fighting Scylla, who is portrayed as a six-headed, twelve-legged barking monster, and Charybdis, a sea creature.

The phrase “Scylla and Charybdis” has come to refer to an especially difficult choice of being forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

In the story, Odysseus and his unsuspecting men are confronted with Scylla—a monstrous creature that varyingly has six heads and necks that extend to hideous lengths residing in a clifftop cave.

Besides this, her jaws can catch and devour unsuspecting sailors. On the other side of the strait, sea monster Charybdis threatens to destroy the entire ship, drowning all the men on it.

In The Odyssey, the greatest of all Greek heroes just barely escapes the grasp of Charybdis, a swirling whirlpool, by clinging to the splinters that were left of his ship.


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