Sirens of Mythology:
Thetis and Peleus

Thetis is one of the most important sirens of mythology. She was a daughter of Nereus, Zeus had wanted to marry her, her husband Peleus is involved in several myths, and her son Achilles is famous for his part in the Trojan War. The story of how Thetis and Peleus met is given here.

These sirens are as famous for the suitors they reject as for the ones they accept. Thetis had rejected Zeus.

Zeus was of two minds about this. On the one hand he wanted her for his wife, on the other there was a prophesy that her son would become more powerful than his father. Zeus did not want to be dethroned by his own son so he decided to marry her to a mortal. The man chosen was Peleus, a Greek hero and adventurer.

Peleus was told that Zeus would grant him, as his wife, an immortal. However, in order to marry her he would have to defeat her.

Peleus was told to hide behind a bush near a cave where Thetis liked to rest. He was then to seize her and hold her no matter what happened until she yielded to him.

Thetis arrived, riding naked on the back of a dolphin, and entered the cave. When she was asleep Peleus grabbed hold of her. Waking she tried to escape by changing form. She became fire, water, a lion, a serpent and an octopus. Peleus held on, even though he was burned, wet, badly scratched, bitten and covered in ink. Finally, Thetis returned to her true form. Peleus had won one of the most beautiful of the sirens.

Like most of the marriages of the sirens of mythology, this one ended badly for the mortal. Peleus was deserted by Thetis.

Years later, Thetis told him to wait for her in the cave where they first met. She would come there and take him to her home under the sea and make him immortal. Peleus waited for days but became impatient and left. Soon after he died and forfeited his immortality.


The plot of this story is similar to "The Lady of Fan Lake". Click here to read that tale of another one of the sirens of mythology.