Pontus and Thalassa – The Primordial Deities of the Sea

Pontus and Thalassa are the principal deities of the sea. Pontus was born to Gaia and took Thalassa, the daughter of Aether and Hemera, to be his consort. Thalassa’s symbols are the coral, the dolphins and foamy waves. Pontus’ symbols are the deep blue color, the starfish, and the seaweed.

Key Facts

Family tree

ParentsGaia | Aether and Hemera
Partner(s)Gaia and Thalassa | Pontus
SiblingsUranus, and the Ourea | None
OffspringAphrodite, Halia, The Telchines

Names & Others

Roman NameAphrodite, Halia, The Telchines
Other NamesPontos | Thalatta
Ancient GreekΠόντος | Θάλασσα
The God | Goddess ofSea | Sea
SymbolsDeep blue color, seaweed, and starfish | coral, dolphins, and foamy waves

Pontus and Thalassa’s Origins

Roscher W. H., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

After Gaia emerged from Chaos she gave birth to Uranus, the Ourea, and Pontus. These were her first children that came to be without a father. As the personification of the sea, Pontus flooded some of Gaia’s deep parts and took up residence at the bottom of the deepest ocean. Thalassa, who came soon afterwards, was the offspring of the ethereal deities Aether and Hemera. Pontus took Thalassa as his wife and together they created all sea life.

Pontus and Thalassa’s progeny

Pontus and Gaia

Before Thalassa, the great Pontus mated with his mother, Gaia, and fathered Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia.

Νηρέα δ᾽ ἀψευδέα καὶ ἀληθέα γείνατο Πόντος
πρεσβύτατον παίδων· αὐτὰρ καλέουσι γέροντα,
οὕνεκα νημερτής τε καὶ ἤπιος, οὐδὲ θεμίστων
λήθεται, ἀλλὰ δίκαια καὶ ἤπια δήνεα οἶδεν·
αὖτις δ᾽ αὖ Θαύμαντα μέγαν καὶ ἀγήνορα Φόρκυν
Γαίῃ μισγόμενος καὶ Κητὼ καλλιπάρηον
Εὐρυβίην τ᾽ ἀδάμαντος ἐνὶ φρεσὶ θυμὸν ἔχουσαν.

And Pontos, the Sea, begot his eldest, Nereus,
True and no liar. And they call him Old Man
Because he is unerring and mild, remembers
What is right, and his mind is gentle and just.
Then Sea mated with Earth and begat great Thaumas,
And arrogant Phorcys, Ceto, her cheeks lovely,
And Eurybia, a stubborn heart in her breast.

Thalassa’s offspring

Thalassa, the only child of Aether and Hemera, stood proudly by Pontus’ side. She too was an eminent sea deity, and she proved it by giving birth to the beautiful goddess of love, Aphrodite. After Cronus castrated his father, Uranus, he tossed the severed genitals into the sea. White foam was produced then and the gorgeous Aphrodite, the goddess of love emerged from within.

Following that remarkable creation, Pontus and Thalassa came together. The divine sea couple brought forth all sea life, and also Halia of Rhodes, a mortal woman who later became the sea goddess Leucothea, and the extraordinary fish people known as the Telchines, often described as ancient sea gods and skilled craftsmen.

Pontus and Thalassa’s depictions

Both mysterious and vague deities, Pontus and Thalassa share quite a few similarities regarding their appearance. Many suggest that they are the same; a powerful divine entity of the sea with two natures (masculine and feminine). When the sea is raging and claims the lives of sailors they say that it’s Pontus, who demonstrates his powers. But, when the sea is calm and offers her serenity and abundance of food, then it’s Thalassa, the kind and benevolent goddess that rewards those who treat her with respect. Both are depicted with long black hair, out of which two crab claws protrude like horns. There are usually accompanied by dolphins and their children on the back of fish.

Games with Pontus and Thalassa

Test your knowledge about Pontus, Thalassa, and other primordial gods of Ancient Greece with this fun quiz:

Don’t forget to try out our other games as well!


Pontus is the Latin form of the word Pontos, which in Ancient Greek means the sea. An older type of the word was poto. Thalassa or Thalatta comes from the word ἅλς (als), meaning salt, and it pointed to the large body of salt water, otherwise known as the sea. Therefore, the exact translation of Thalassa is sea.

Roles and Responsibilities

Pontus and Thalassa’s duty, mainly before the arrival of the Olympians, was to fill the sea with all forms of life. From the smallest to the largest, all creatures, good and bad, are their offspring. They are the unseen guardians and protectors of the sea, once ruling their domain and now assisting Lord Poseidon, the god of the sea.

In the old texts


Pontus is mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony.

In Bibliotheca historica, Thalassa is the mother of Halia and the Telchines.

The twenty-first Orphic Hymn is dedicated to Thalassa.

Thalassa also appears in two of Aesop’s Fables.


In Hyginus’ Fabulae, Pontus is the son of Aether and Gaia, and Mare (Thalassa) is the daughter of Aether and Dies (Hemera).

Lucian mentions Thalassa in Confabulations of the Marine Deities.


Is Pontus the father of Poseidon?

No, Cronus, the Titan, is the father of Poseidon. When Zeus overthrew Cronus and locked him up in Tartarus, a new generation of gods assumed control of the cosmos. Each of the three Olympian brothers took a portion of the world to rule. Zeus got the sky, Hades received the underworld, and Poseidon was decreed to reign over the sea. This was done in accordance with Pontus, Thalassa, and the rest of the old sea deities, who acknowledged the Olympians’ authority and accepted the new state of affairs.

Is Thalassa the sister of Pontus?

The old texts mention Thalassa to be the daughter of Aether and Hemera, and the wife of Pontus. Thalassa mated with Pontus and gave birth to all sea life. Although younger, she’s very much alike Pontus, and she is viewed as the female embodiment of the sea.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Vasilis Megas

Vasilis Megas (a.k.a. Vasil Meg) was born in Athens, Greece where he still resides writing epic fantasy and sci-fi books. He is a Greek - and Norse Mythology enthusiast, and he is currently working as a creative/content writer, journalist, photographer and translator.