Nereids

The Nereids are sea nymphs of the Mediterranean.  It was said there were fifty of these daughters to Nereus and the nymph Doris, and they lived with their father in an underwater dwelling.  These young and beautiful maidens were also part of Poseidon’s retinue.  They either had lovely blue hair, or striking golden hair, depending on what you read.  Individually, they are also said to represent various aspects of the sea: foam, brine, currents, shores, etc.  Unlike some mermaid and siren myths, the Nereids gave aid to sailors and fishermen and were therefore worshiped in port towns.

Nereid riding Sea Bull via/ wikipedia

Art often depicts them riding various sea creatures, from dolphins to sea monsters such as Cetus.  In addition to having power over the sea, they inherited the ability to shape shift from their father.

Thetis is the most famous and sometimes called the leader of the Nereids.  Peleus sought her for a bride and managed to capture her.  She changed shape repeatedly, becoming water, fire, a lioness, and a serpent, but still Peleus held fast and did not let her go.  So, she finally consented to marry him.  Later, she gave birth to Achilles.

For more information and images of the Nereids, you can check out theoi.com.

In Elemental Magic, Aileen begins having visions of her deceased mother.  She chalks it up to stress, until an encounter with a sea dragon—Cetus to be precise—has her questioning if perhaps her mother wasn’t human like she thought.  And if she’s the half-daughter of a Nereid, what does that mean for her?

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Cetus the Sea Dragon

Cetus, derived from Ketos, is the Latin name given to multiple sea monsters that appear in Greek mythology, from a serpentine dragon to a blubbering whale monster.

There are two primary tales regarding this creature, and though they feature different characters, the stories are quite similar.  In the first, Queen Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than any of the Nereides, sea nymphs that made up Poseidon’s retinue.  As punishment, Poseidon sent the sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the land.  In order to appease the sea-god, Andromeda was left on the rocks as a sacrificial offering to the sea dragon.  Luckily, Perseus was returning from slaying Medusa, and he swooped in on Pegasus to save the girl, slaying the dragon by turning it to stone.

In the second, very similar tale, Poseidon had hidden in human form and helped King Laomedon build the walls of Troy.  When the king refused to pay Poseidon for his help, the sea-god sent Cetus as punishment.  Again, it was decided that the only way to get rid of the monster was to offer the king’s daughter as a sacrifice.  (It never bodes well for princesses, does it?)  This time, the hero Hercules swoops in to save the day and slays the beast.

Cetus can also be found amongst the constellations, though his form in the stars is that of the gigantic whale monster.  He lies in the region of the sky where several other water-related constellations are, such as Aquarius and Pisces.

In the movie Clash of the Titans, Cetus is interpreted as the Kraken, an even more massive whale of a monster.

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In Elemental Magic, Cetus is more serpentine like the dragons in the first two pictures.  He’s also quite intelligent, the last of his kind tucked away under a spell until an evil alchemist releases him.

The silhouette against the backdrop of stars was tall and thin, at least compared to the width of a whale. That wasn’t to say it wasn’t incredibly large. It loomed at least seven feet over the top of the ship. Keenan swept the spotlight over it, and I caught a flash of teeth bared in a menacing sneer and bright, blue-green scales. Eyes glowered gold with the reflection of the light.

No. Freakin’. Way.

And, just as in the above tales, poor Cetus is forced to follow orders and wreak havoc along the coast.  I won’t tell you what happens to him though.  You’ll have to read the book.  😉

Do you have a favorite interpretation of Cetus?  If you saw the new Clash of the Titans, how’d you like the Kraken?  With the hero stories being so similar, are you for Perseus or Hercules?