Yet no complaint is made against Thetis herself; no mention is made of her less-than-Olympian status; no question is raised as to the appropriateness of her involvement in, as it were, the strategy of the war—in the way, for example, that Aphrodite’s participation on behalf of Aeneas calls for caustic humor at her expense. thus constitutes a mutinous effort at supplanting him and imposing a new divine regime—on the pattern of his own overthrow of Kronos and the Titans.
How is the poem’s audience to make sense of Thetis’s extraordinary authority? Thetis’s act in rescuing Zeus is therefore nothing less than supreme: an act that restores the cosmic equilibrium.
Hephaistos, is there anyone, of all the goddesses on Olympos,who has endured so many baneful sorrows in her heart,as many as the griefs Zeus the son of Kronos has given me beyond all others? 8 recounts that Zeus and Poseidon were rivals for the hand of Thetis, each wishing to be her husband, for love possessed them.
Of all the daughters of the sea he forced on me a mortal man, Aiakos’ son Peleus, and I endured the bed of a mortal manutterly unwilling though I was.’s reference here to the Olympians’ endorsement—even enforcement—of Thetis’s marriage to Peleus clarify its representation of their reluctance to challenge her, as she preempts the course of the entire war? But the gods decided not to bring about either marriage, once they had heard from Themis that Thetis was destined to bear a son who would be greater than his father.
To give these lines their full weight—indeed, even to begin to interpret them—means addressing other digressions that interrupt the narrative surface of the poem. Typically, it does so through the character’s own reminiscences and reflections on his previous achievements or position. Therefore, Themis counseled, let Thetis marry a mortal instead and see her son die in war.
Instead, Hephaistos gives the only first-person account of Thetis’s previous activities, anterior to the time frame of the epic.ἦ ῥά νύ μοι δεινή τε καὶ αἰδοίη θεὸς ἔνδον, ἥ μ᾽ ἐσάωσ᾽, ὅτε μ᾽ ἄλγος ἀφίκετο τῆλε πεσόντα μητρὸς ἐμῆς ἰότητι κυνώπιδος, ἥ μ᾽ ἐθέλησε κρύψαι χωλὸν ἐόντα· τότ᾽ ἂν πάθον ἄλγεα θυμῷ, εἰ μή μ᾽ Εὐρυνόμη τε Θέτις θ᾽ ὑπεδέξατο κόλπῳ. This divine prize should be given to Aiakos’s son Peleus, the most reverent of men.
Where within the framework of the here the poem seems to point to an alternative structure of cosmic relations, one that was neither overthrown by the Olympian order (insofar as Thetis—unlike, say, the Titans—still functions) nor upheld by it (insofar as no challenge to the Olympian order remains), but whose relation to it was otherwise resolved. Not only does she generate strife between Zeus and Poseidon because of their love for her, but her potential for bearing a son greater than his father threatens the entire divine order.
We do not have far to look for explicit confirmation of this in the poem. The rivalry she arouses between Zeus and Poseidon because of their love for her is unprecedented, but her greatest power does not lie there.
Truly then, an awesome and honored goddess is in my house,who saved me when pain overcame me after I had fallen farthrough the will of my bitch-faced mother, who wishedto hide me for being lame. The sons of Kronos agreed with Themis, and Zeus himself assented to the marriage of Thetis.
Then I would have suffered much pain in my heart,if Eurynome and Thetis had not rescued me to their bosoms. ταῦτα καὶ μακάρων ἐμέμναντ᾽ ἀγοραί, Ζεὺς ὅτ᾽ ἀμφὶ Θέτιος ἀγλαός τ᾽ ἔρισαν Ποσειδὰν γάμῳ, ἄλοχον εὐειδέα θέλων ἑκάτερος ἑὰν ἔμμεν· ἔρως γ?