Nereus (Ancient Greek: Νηρευς) was the eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth), who with Doris fathered the fifty Nereids and Nerites, with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean Sea. He was the old man of the seas, and of the sea's rich bounty of fish.
He was believed, like other marine divinities, to have the power of prophesying the future and of appearing to mortals in different shapes, and in the story of Heracles he acts a prominent part. Nereus appears in few myths, but he is important nonetheless.
The Apples of the Hesperides
Heracles, on his penultimate task, was asked to pluck three golden apples from the tree of the Hesperides, (nymphs of the evening). Heracles set off toward the west. While on his quest, Heracles came across some river nymphs who told him that Nereus, the old man of the sea, would know the whereabouts of the garden. Heracles found and asked him for directions. When Nereus refused, Heracles leapt on the sea-god, and held him in a clinch, but Nereus could transform himself into many forms, including fire and water. However, Heracles held on and in the end Nereus was forced to give the hero the directions he needed.
Based on a frieze of the Pergamon Altar, it is evident that Nereus took part in the war against the Gigantes. The frieze shows Nereus and Doris fighting a Gigantes (Okeanos also is present in the frieze).
Spouse & Lovers
- Nereus can see the future
- Nereus is a shapeshifter