According to Hesiod1 and Apollodorus2 a Nereid, though in other places Apollodorus3 calls her an Oceanid. She is represented as the wife of Poseidon and the goddess of the sea (the Mediterranean), and she is therefore a kind of female Poseidon.
In the Homeric poems she does not occur as a goddess, and Amphitrite is merely the name of the sea. The most ancient passages in which she occurs as a real goddess is that of Hesiod above referred to and the Homeric hymn on the Delian Apollo,4 where she is represented as having been present at the birth of Apollo. When Poseidon sued for her hand, she fled to Atlas, but her lover sent spies after her, and among them one Delphinus, who brought about the marriage between her and Poseidon, and the grateful god rewarded his service by placing him among the stars.5
When afterwards Poseidon showed some attachment to Scylla, Amphitrite's jealousy was excited to such a degree, that she threw some magic herbs into the well in which Scylla used to bathe, and thereby changed her rival into a monster with six heads and twelve feet.6 Amphitrite became by Poseidon the mother of Triton, Rhode, or Rhodos, and Benthesicyme.7
Later poets regard Amphitrite as the goddess of the sea in general, or the ocean.8
Greek aphi-trio from tribo, rubbing or wearing away [the shore] on all sides.
Amphitrite was frequently represented in ancient works of art; her figure resembled that of Aphrodite, but she was usually distinguished from her by a sort of net which kept her hair together, and by the claws of a crab on her forehead. She was sometimes represented as riding on marine animals, and sometimes as drawn by them. The temple of Poseidon on the Corinthian isthmus contained a statue of Amphitrite,9 and her figure appeared among the relief ornaments of the temple of Apollo at Amyclae.10 on the throne of the Olympian Zeus, and in other places.11 We still possess a considerable number of representations of Amphitrite. On the so-called Theseus Bowl (fifth century BCE; Paris), she is depicted as a youthful woman wearing a see-through dress, handing Theseus a wreath. A large wall-mosaic at a house in Herculaneum (ins. V, 1-2) shows the divine couple. A colossal statue of her exists in the Villa Albani, and she frequently appears on coins of Syracuse. The most beautiful specimen extant is that on the arch of Augustus at Rimini.12 Rubens painted Amphitrite and Theseus as well.
- Theogony, 243.
- The Library i, 2.7.
- ibid. i, 2.2, i, 4.6.
- Eratosthenes. Catasterismi, 31; Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy, ii, 17.
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 45, 649.
- Hesiod. Theogony, 930 ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 4.6; iii, 15.4.
- Euripides. Cyclops, 702; Ovid. Metamorphoses i, 14.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 1.7.
- ibid. iii, 19.4.
- ibid. v, 2.3, comp. i, 17.3; v, 26.2.
- Winckelmann. Alte Denkmäler, i, 36; Hirt. Bilderbuch für Mythologie, ii, 159.
- Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.