The god of the river Oceanus, by which, according to the most ancient notions of the Greeks, the whole earth was surrounded. An account of this river belongs to mythical geography, and we shall here confine ourselves to describing the place which Oceanus holds in the ancient cosmogony.

In the Homeric poems he appears as a mighty god, who yields to none save Zeus.1 Homer does not mention his parentage, but calls Tethys his wife, by whom he had three daughters, Thetis, Eurynome, and Perse.2 His palace is placed somewhere in the west,3 and there he and Tethys brought up Hera, who was conveyed to them at the time when Zeus was engaged in the struggle with the Titans.

Hesiod4 calls Oceanus a son of Uranus and Gaea, the eldest of the Titans, and the husband of Tethys, by whom he begot 3,000 rivers, and as many Oceanides, of whom Hesiod mentions only the eldest.5 This poet6 also speaks of sources of Oceanus.


Representations of the god are seen on imperial coins of Tyre and Alexandria.



  1. Homer. Iliad xiv, 245; xx, 7; xxi, 195.
  2. ibid. xiv, 302; xviii, 398; Odyssey x, 139.
  3. ibid. xiv, 303, ff.
  4. Theogony, 133, 337 ff., 349, ff.
  5. Comp. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 8.1, 10.1.
  6. Theogony, 282.


  • 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.