Oceanid

Doris

Les Océanides by Gustave Doré

Les Océanides by Gustave Doré (ca. 1860–1869)

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain

Overview

Doris was a nymph, one of the three thousand Oceanids born to the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She married Nereus, the “Old Man of the Sea,” and gave birth to the fifty sea nymphs known as the Nereids.

Etymology

The name “Doris” (Greek Δωρίς, translit. Dōrís) may be connected to the Greek word δῶρον (dôron), meaning “gift.” This linguistic element also appears in the names of a few of Doris’ sisters, including Eudora and Polydora.[1]

Pronunciation

  • English
    Greek
    DorisΔωρίς (Dōrís)
  • Phonetic
    IPA
    [DAWR-is, DOHR-, DOR-]/ˈdɔr ɪs, ˈdoʊr-, ˈdɒr-/

Titles and Epithets

As a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, Doris was commonly referred to as an “Oceanid” (Ὠκεανίς, Ōkeanís). Hesiod also described Doris individually as “fair-haired” (εὔκομος, eúkomos)—a very common epithet among Greek goddesses.[2]

Attributes

Doris, one of the Oceanids, was a beautiful nymph and a minor goddess of the sea. Very little is known about her; other than being the wife of Nereus and the mother of the Nereids, she did not have any unique attributes that set her apart from other nymphs.

In ancient art, Doris was sometimes represented alongside her husband or daughters. However, she was usually depicted as a fairly generic goddess (attractive, dressed in a flowing robe) and is thus difficult to identify with any certainty, except in cases where the artist labeled her.[3]

Family

Doris’ parents were Oceanus and Tethys, early gods of the sea and two of the original twelve Titans born to Gaia and Uranus. Doris and her sisters made up the three thousand Oceanids, while her brothers were the three thousand Potamoi, or “Rivers.”[4]

The Oceanids by Gustave Doré (1860–1869).

The Oceanids by Gustave Doré (1860–1869).

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain

Doris married Nereus, another sea god, and together they had fifty sea nymph daughters known as the Nereids.[5] According to one source, she also had a son, Nerites, who became a handsome companion of Poseidon.[6]

Mythology

Doris did not have much in the way of an individual mythology. According to Hesiod, she was an Oceanid, one of the daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She eventually married Nereus, the sea god known as the “Old Man of the Sea,” and gave birth to the fifty Nereids, whom Hesiod described as “passing lovely amongst goddesses.”[7]

A few of Doris’ Nereid daughters were significant figures. Thetis, for example, married the hero Peleus and became the mother of Achilles; Amphitrite became the wife of Poseidon and ruled as queen of the sea; and Galatea was known as the unhappy love interest of the Cyclops Polyphemus.

References

Notes

  1. See Martin L. West, Hesiod: Theogony (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966), 265.

  2. Hesiod, Theogony 241.

  3. See Maria Pipili, “Nereus,” in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (Zurich: Artemis, 1992), 6:824–37.

  4. Hesiod, Theogony 337ff, 350; Apollodorus, Library 1.2.2.

  5. Hesiod, Theogony 240ff.

  6. Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 14.28.

  7. Hesiod, Theogony 240, trans. H. G. Evelyn-White.

Primary Sources

Greek

The earliest and most important literary source for Doris is Hesiod’s Theogony (eighth/seventh century BCE), which summarizes her genealogy and mythology. The Library, a mythological handbook attributed to Apollodorus or “Pseudo-Apollodorus” (first century BCE or later), gives a similar overview of Doris’ identity.

Roman

Doris is mentioned in passing in a few Roman texts. Ovid (43 BCE–17/18 CE) calls Doris the mother of the Nereids in his Metamorphoses. Her genealogy is likewise outlined in the Fabulae, a mythological handbook attributed to Hyginus or “Pseudo-Hyginus (first century CE or later).

Secondary Sources

  • Bloch, René. “Doris (I.1).” In Brill’s New Pauly, edited by Hubert Cancik, Helmuth Schneider, Christine F. Salazar, Manfred Landfester, and Francis G. Gentry. Published online 2006. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e323390.

  • Escher-Bürkli, Jakob. “Doris (3).” In Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, edited by Georg Wissowa and August Friedrich Pauly, vol. 5.2, 1566. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1893–1980.

  • Smith, William. “Doris (1).” In A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Spottiswoode and Company, 1873. Perseus Digital Library. Accessed January 10, 2021. https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0104%3Aentry%3Ddoris-bio-1.

  • Theoi Project. “Doris.” Published online 2000–2017. https://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NympheDoris.html.

  • Weiszäcker, P. “Doris (1).” In Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, edited by W. H. Roscher, vol. 1, 1198. Leipzig: Teubner, 1884–90.

Citation

Kapach, Avi. “Doris.” Mythopedia, August 01, 2023. https://mythopedia.com/topics/doris.

Kapach, Avi. “Doris.” Mythopedia, 1 Aug. 2023. https://mythopedia.com/topics/doris. Accessed on 17 Jul. 2024.

Kapach, A. (2023, August 1). Doris. Mythopedia. https://mythopedia.com/topics/doris

Authors

  • Avi Kapach

    Avi Kapach is a writer, scholar, and educator who received his PhD in Classics from Brown University

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