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[5] Afterwards he married Thetis, daughter of Nereus,1 for whose hand Zeus and Poseidon had been rivals; but when Themis prophesied that the son born of Thetis would be mightier than his father, they withdrew.2 But some say that when Zeus was bent on gratifying his passion for her, Prometheus declared that the son borne to him by her would be lord of heaven;3 and others affirm that Thetis would not consort with Zeus because she had been brought up by Hera, and that Zeus in anger would marry her to a mortal.4 Chiron, therefore, having advised Peleus to seize her and hold her fast in spite of her shape-shifting, he watched his chance and carried her off, and though she turned, now into fire, now into water, and now into a beast, he did not let her go till he saw that she had resumed her former shape.5 And he married her on Pelion, and there the gods celebrated the marriage with feast and song.6 And Chiron gave Peleus an ashen spear,7 and Poseidon gave him horses, Balius and Xanthus, and these were immortal.8


1 Compare Hom. Il. 18.83ff.; Hom. Il. 18.432ff.; Pind. N. 4.61(100)ff.; Eur. IA 701ff.; Eur. IA 1036ff.; Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.805ff.; Catul. 64; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 65, 142ff. (First Vatican Mythographer 207, 208; Second Vatican Mythographer 205).

2 See Pind. I. 8.27(58)ff.; Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.790ff.; Ov. Met. 11.217ff., who attributes the prophecy to Proteus. The present passage of Apollodorus is quoted, with the author's name, by Tzetzes (Scholiast on Lycophron 178).

3 Compare Aesch. PB 908ff.; Scholiast on Hom. Il. i.519; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica v.338ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 54; Hyginus, Ast. ii.15. According to Hyginus, Zeus released Prometheus from his fetters in gratitude for the warning which the sage had given him not to wed Thetis.

4 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.790-798, a passage which Apollodorus seems here to have had in mind.

5 As to the various shapes into which the reluctant Thetis turned herself in order to evade the grasp of her mortal lover, see Pind. N. 4.62(101)ff.; Scholiast on Pind. N. 3.35(60); Scholiast on Pind. N. 4.62(101); Paus. 5.18.5; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica iii.618-624; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 175, 178 (vol. i. pp. 446, 457, ed. Muller); Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.582; Ov. Met. 11.235ff. She is said to have changed into fire, water, wind, a tree, a bird, a tiger, a lion, a serpent, and a cuttlefish. It was when she had assumed the form of a cuttlefish (sepia) that Peleus at last succeeded in seizing her and holding her fast (Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 175, 178 (vol. i. pp. 446, 457, ed. Muller)). With the transformations which Thetis underwent in order to escape from the arms of her lover we may compare the transformations which her father Nereus underwent in order to escape from Herakles (above, Apollod. 2.5.11), the transformations which the river-god Achelous underwent in his tussle with the same doughty hero (above, Apollod. 2.7.5, note), and the transformations which the sea-god Proteus underwent in order to give the slip to Menelaus (Hom. Od. 4.354ff.). All these stories were appropriately told of water-spirits, their mutability reflecting as it were the instability of the fickle, inconstant element of which they were born. The place where Peleus caught and mastered his sea-bride was believed to be the southeastern headland of Thessaly, which hence bore the name of Sepia or the Cuttlefish. The whole coast of the Cape was sacred to Thetis and the other Nereids; and after their fleet had been wrecked on the headland, the Persians sacrificed to Thetis on the spot (Hdt. 7.191). See further, Frazer's Appendix to Apollodorus, “The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis.”

6 The Muses sang at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, according to Pind. P. 3.89(159)ff. Catullus describes the Fates singing on the same occasion, and he has recorded their magic song (Catul. 64.305ff.).

7 Compare Hom. Il. 16.140-144, with the Scholiast on Hom. Il. 16.140, according to whom Chiron felled the ash-tree for the shaft, while Athena polished it, and Hephaestus wrought (the blade). For this account the Scholiast refers to the author of the epic Cypria.

8 Compare Hom. Il. 16.148ff.

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