is the absence of any reproach made to Thetis for her drastic intervention in the war. For a very long time have the Titan gods and all those born of Kronos struggled with each other every day for victory and power.What accounts for Thetis’s compelling influence over Zeus and, equally puzzling, for her freedom from recrimination or retaliation by the other Olympians? But show your great strength and irresistible hands against the Titans in painful battle, bearing in mindour kindly friendship, and all the sufferings you returned frominto the light, back from wretched bondagebeneath the misty darkness, on account of our counsels.”Thus he spoke.
Why does Achilles convey his request to Zeus through his mother, rather than directly? Once married to either of them, Thetis would be settled and beyond the other’s reach; the possibility of her subsequently—δίς (“a second time”)—causing a similar rivalry would be unlikely.
Such a procedure is unknown elsewhere in the πολλάκι γάρ σεο πατρὸς ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἄκουσα εὐχομένης ὅτ᾽ ἔφησθα κελαινεφέϊ Κρονίωνι οἴη ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ἀεικέα λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι, ὁππότε μιν ξυνδῆσαι Ὀλύμπιοι ἤθελον ἄλλοι, Ἥρη τ᾽ ἠδὲ Ποσειδάων καὶ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη·ἀλλὰ σὺ τόν γ᾽ ἐλθοῦσα, θεά, ὑπελύσαο δεσμῶν, ὦχ᾽ ἑκατόγχειρον καλέσασ᾽ ἐς μακρόν Ὄλυμπον, ὃν Βριάρεων καλέουσι θεοί, ἄνδρες δέ τε πάντες Αἰγαίων᾽—ὁ γὰρ αὖτε βίην οὗ πατρὸς ἀμείνων— ὅς ῥα παρὰ Κρονίωνι καθέζετο κύδεϊ γαίων·τὸν καὶ ὑπέδεισαν μάκαρες θεοὶ οὐδ᾽ ἔτ᾽ ἔδησαν. But Themis fears another “banishment,” the effects of a Themis, the guardian of social order, is apparently trying not simply to avert a quarrel prompted by sexual jealousy between the brothers (a quarrel that would always be reparable), but a catastrophic .
Where within the framework of the here the poem seems to point to an alternative structure of cosmic relations, one that was neither overthrown by the Olympian order (insofar as Thetis—unlike, say, the Titans—still functions) nor upheld by it (insofar as no challenge to the Olympian order remains), but whose relation to it was otherwise resolved. Not only does she generate strife between Zeus and Poseidon because of their love for her, but her potential for bearing a son greater than his father threatens the entire divine order.
We do not have far to look for explicit confirmation of this in the poem. The rivalry she arouses between Zeus and Poseidon because of their love for her is unprecedented, but her greatest power does not lie there.
As a rule, the goddess’s irresistible desire for her mortal partner is emphasized as the vital impetus for their union; thus Kalypso memorably complains that the gods inevitably begrudge female divinities their mortal consorts, with perilous consequences for the latter. Not even a single one of Briareos’s hands needs to be laid on the mutinous gods here: they are overwhelmed by the assertion of sovereignty implied by the presence of Briareos, rather than overpowered by him.
Thetis, by contrast, was not the ardent seducer of her mortal lover. In this sense, one can see Briareos’s narrative function as a mirror of his dramatic function: he is a reminder.
And they allscattered their wands to the ground, struck by man-slaughtering Lykourgos, with a cattle prod; but Dionysos in panicplunged under the sea’s wave, and Thetis took him, terrified,to her bosom. In their midst Wise-counselling Themis said That it was fated for the sea-goddess To bear for son a prince Stronger than his father, Who shall wield in his hand a different weapon More powerful than the thunderbolt Or the monstrous trident, If she wed Zeus or among the brothers of Zeus.“Put an end to this.
Together with the episode described by Hephaistos in Book 18, this account associates Thetis in a divine past—uninvolved with human events—with a level of divine invulnerability extraordinary by Olympian standards. Let her have a mortal wedlock And see dead in war her son With hands like the hands of Ares And feet like the lightning-flashes.” 8 thus reveals Thetis as a figure of cosmic capacity, whose existence promises profound consequences for the gods.
To give these lines their full weight—indeed, even to begin to interpret them—means addressing other digressions that interrupt the narrative surface of the poem. Typically, it does so through the character’s own reminiscences and reflections on his previous achievements or position. Therefore, Themis counseled, let Thetis marry a mortal instead and see her son die in war.
Instead, Hephaistos gives the only first-person account of Thetis’s previous activities, anterior to the time frame of the epic.ἦ ῥά νύ μοι δεινή τε καὶ αἰδοίη θεὸς ἔνδον, ἥ μ᾽ ἐσάωσ᾽, ὅτε μ᾽ ἄλγος ἀφίκετο τῆλε πεσόντα μητρὸς ἐμῆς ἰότητι κυνώπιδος, ἥ μ᾽ ἐθέλησε κρύψαι χωλὸν ἐόντα· τότ᾽ ἂν πάθον ἄλγεα θυμῷ, εἰ μή μ᾽ Εὐρυνόμη τε Θέτις θ᾽ ὑπεδέξατο κόλπῳ. This divine prize should be given to Aiakos’s son Peleus, the most reverent of men.