|Children||The Hesperides, The Gorgons, The Graeae, Thoosa, Echidna, Ladon and all sea Monsters, the Sirens|
|Parents||Pontus and Gaia|
|Siblings||Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys and Eurybia|
Ceto (//; Ancient Greek: Κητώ, Kētō, "sea monster"), is a primordial sea goddess in Greek mythology, the daughter of Gaia and Pontus. As a mythological figure, she is most notable for bearing by Phorcys a host of monstrous children. The small solar system body 65489 Ceto was named after her, and its satellite after Phorcys.
Ceto was also variously called Crataeis (Κράταιις, Krataiis, from κραταιίς "mighty") and Trienus (Τρίενος, Trienos, from τρίενος "within three years"), and was occasionally conflated by scholars with the goddess Hecate (for whom Crataeis and Trienus are also epithets).
This goddess should not be confused with the minor Oceanid also named Ceto, or with various mythological beings referred to as ketos (plural ketea); this is a general term for "sea monster" in Ancient Greek.
In ancient texts
Hesiod's Theogony lists the children of Phorcys and Ceto as Echidna, The Gorgons (Euryale, Stheno, and the infamous Medusa), The Graeae (Deino, Enyo, Pemphredo, and sometimes Perso), and Ladon, also called the Drakon Hesperios ("Hesperian Dragon", or dragon of the Hesperides). These children tend to be consistent across sources, though Ladon is sometimes cited as a child of Echidna by Typhon and therefore Phorcys and Ceto's grandson.
Pliny the Elder mentions worship of "storied Ceto" at Joppa (now Jaffa), in a single reference, immediately after his mention of Andromeda, whom Perseus rescued from a sea-monster. S. Safrai and M. Stern suggest the possibility that someone at Joppa established a cult of the monster under the name Ceto. As an alternative explanation, they posit that Pliny or his source misread the name cetus—or that of the Syrian goddess Derceto.
|The Potamoi||The Oceanids|
In popular culture
Ceto appears in Rick Riordan's book The Mark of Athena, where she and her brother-husband Phorcys run an aquarium featuring shows by sea monsters and other underwater mythological creatures called "Death in the Deep Seas" (sponsored by Monster Donut) out of the Georgia Aquarium. Percy Jackson and Frank Zhang, descended from the Greek and Roman Gods Poseidon and Mars, are imprisoned by Phorcys. They are rescued by the satyr Coach Gleeson Hedge, who kicks Ceto in the head and rescues Percy and Frank. This angers Ceto who sends a Skolopendra to attack their ship the Argo II, but it is defeated by the Ichthyocentaurs who promise to defeat Ceto and Phorcys.
- "κῆτος" in Liddell, Henry and Robert Scott. 1996. A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised by H.S. Jones and R. McKenzie. Ninth edition, with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Colitur illic fabulosa Ceto. Pliny, Book 5, chapter 14, §69; this same paragraph will be referred to as v.14, v.69, V.xiv.69; and v.13 (one of the chapter divisions is missing in some MSS). For Ceto as a transferred name, see Rackham's Loeb translation; for emendations, see The Jewish people in the first century. Historical geography, political history, social, cultural and religious life and institutions. Ed. by S. Safrai and M. Stern in co-operation with D. Flusser and W. C. van Unnik, Vol II, p. 1081, and Oldfather's translation of Pliny (Derceto).
- There are two major conflicting stories for Aphrodite's origins: Hesiod (Theogony) claims that she was "born" from the foam of the sea after Cronus castrated Uranus, thus making her Uranus' daughter; but Homer (Iliad, book V) has Aphrodite as daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.
- Most sources describe Medusa as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, though the author Hyginus (Fabulae Preface) makes Medusa the daughter of Gorgon and Ceto.
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