According to the poets Hesiod, Homer, Apollodorus & Hyginus Galateia was one of the Nereides (fifty goddess-nymphs of the sea). Her name means either "the goddess of calm seas" from galênê and Theia or "milky-white" from galaktos. Galateia frequented the coast of Sicily where she attracted the attention of the Kyklops (Cyclops) Polyphemos. The giant wooed her with tunes from his rustic pipes, and offerings of cheese, milk, and wild fruit. The nymph, however, spurned his advances and consorted instead with a handsome Sicillian youth named Akis. When Polyphemos learned of this, he fell into a jealous rage and crushed the boy beneath a rock. Galateia was grief-stricken and transformed Akis into a stream. Some say, Galateia was the mother by Polyphemos of Galatos, the eponymous king of Galateia in Asia Minor.
She was depicted in ancient art as a beautiful woman riding side-saddle on the back of a sea monster or fish-tailed god.