Thetis (Greek Θέτις ) is a sea nymph in Greek mythology. She was the most beautiful of the Nereids mentioned numerous daughters of the sea god Nereus. The Titan Tethys was their grandmother.

In a prophecy of Themis had been predicted that the son of Thetis would be stronger and more powerful than his father. Therefore, none of the gods wanted to marry the goddess Thetis, and they left their mortal Peleus to man.

Peleus Thetis surprised asleep in a cave, grabbed her and would not let her go. Now she tried to pull away by transformations in various forms: it was to fire and water, on a lion and a snake. You turned into a squid. Peleus held her for the whole time on, even though he burned, soaked, scratched badly bitten and was splattered with ink. Ultimately, Peleus was the winner of this hard wrestling.

From this connection Achill showed the Thetis dipped into the river Styx to make him invulnerable; only his heel, where she held him remained unwetted - this was then the proverbial Achilles' heel.

At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis all the Olympian gods were invited except Eris, the goddess of discord. This threw a golden apple out of revenge with the inscription " The Most Beautiful " with the guests. The then erupting dispute between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite should decide Zeus, but this was the decision (and the apple ) to the Trojan prince Paris on. All three goddesses tried to win him by promises for themselves. Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman and he decided for them. The promised wife was Helena, who, however, was already married. Paris abducted her with Aphrodite's help her husband Menelaus, which led to the Trojan War, in which Achilles as the strongest hero of the Greeks won his fame, however, fell on Scaean goal.

Sources to the transformation of Thetis

  • Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.221ff. ;
  • Apollodorus 3.13.5;
  • Pausanias, 4.18.1;
  • Tzetzes, About Lycophron, 175, 178;
  • Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes, 1582;
  • Herodotus, 7.191;
  • Philostratus, Heroikos, 19.1.


In Georg Philipp Telemann's Suite "Hamburger Ebb ' and flood " of 1723 two sets ( Sarabande and Bourrée ) bear the programmatic title " The sleeping Thetis " and " The Awakening Thetis ".