59. Thetis and Peleus

Once upon a time, the ancient Proteus had told Thetis that she would give birth to a son, who by his heroic deeds shall surpass the actions of his father, and shall be greater to his father’s might. Although love’s flame scorched the breast of Jupiter, for the lovely green-haired virgin, but not wanting a son to surpass him, he told his grandson Peleus, the son of Aeacus, to marry the beautiful daughter of the sea. Accordingly, Peleus went ahead to marry Thetis.

Near Haemonia’s curved bay, there is a delightful shady grove of myrtle, thick with berries, and in the centre lies an outstanding cave, so enchanting that it is difficult to say, whether it is a work of nature or art. Thetis often reposed in that artistic cave. Peleus went there, found Thetis asleep, and used loving entreaties to make her yield. However, the immortal Thetis resisted the advances of the mortal Peleus. Deciding to conquer her by force, Peleus grabbed her neck by both arms. Thetis resorted to her art of changing forms. She changed herself to a bird and then a tree, but Peleus did not let go of his grip. Then suddenly, she transformed herself to a ferocious tigress. The suddenness frightened Peleus, his hands lost their grip and Thetis escaped.

Peleus prayed to the sea gods to help him win Thetis. He offered wine, sacrificed sheep entrails and the smoke of sweet frankincense, to the heaving waves. He continued praying until Proteus arose from a huge wave. Proteus told Peleus to approach Thetis when she was unwary, and advised him to hold fast to her, even if she changed innumerable forms, until at length, she assumed her original form. After giving advice, Proteus hid his face beneath the deep waves.

On the eve of the full moon, when Thetis was sleeping in her favourite cave, Peleus held her fast by forcing her two arms apart, until she surrendered to her original form. Peleus joyously embraced Thetis and with the blessings of the immortals, Peleus married Thetis.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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