AMPHITRITE

ΑΜΦΙΤΡΙΤΗ

According to Hesiod (Theog. 243) and Apollodorus (i. 2. § 7) a Nereid, though in other places Apollodorus (i. 2. § 2, i. 4. § 6) 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 (94), 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. (Eratosth. Catast. 31; Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 17.) When afterwards Poseidon shewed 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. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 45, 649.) She became by Poseidon the mother of Triton, Rhode, or Rhodos, and Benthesicyme. (Hesiod. Theog. 930, &c.; Apollod. i. 4. § 6; iii. 15. § 4.) Later poets regard Amphitrite as the goddess of the sea in general, or the ocean. (Eurip. Cycl. 702; Ov. Met. i. 14.) 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 (Paus. ii. 1. § 7), and her figure appeared among the relief ornaments of the temple of Apollo at Amyclae (iii. 19. § 4). on the throne of the Olympian Zeus, and in other places. (v. 2. § 3, comp. i. 17. § 3, v. 26. § 2.) We still possess a considerable number of representations of Amphitrite. 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.

The Triumph of Neptune, by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), French Baroque painter

The Triumph of Neptune, by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), French Baroque painter