Send your Call or Congress to

CALL. 08.03.2019: [PANEL 10] Sovereign of the Sea: The Staying Power of Thetis in the Greco-Roman Wo




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Faculdade de Letras - Universidade de Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: David J. Wright (Fordham University; Maciej Paprocki (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich); Gary Vos (University of Edinburgh); Astrid Khoo (King's College London)

INFO: web -


And there came the daughter of Nereus, silver-footed Thetis, The fair-tressed sepia, dread goddess with mortal voice, Who alone, being a fish, knows both white and black.

(Matron, Attikon Deipnon = Ath. 1.135, tr. E. Aston 2009)

Despite languishing in relative obscurity, the Nereid Thetis is one of the most intriguing and ambiguous female figures of Greek myth. In her seminal work (The Power of Thetis - 1991), Laura Slatkin demonstrates that the Iliad presents Thetis as a formerly powerful, yet ultimately marginalised deity. The mistress of cords and binding, Thetis both averts and brings on destruction (Slatkin 1991: 65-67). In this capacity, she plays an active role in divine affairs: in one instance, she rescues Hephaestus and Dionysus, and in another she frees Zeus from the bonds clapped upon him by the rebellious Olympians (Slatkin 1991: 56-61). Furthermore, Zeus and Poseidon both “court” Thetis until they learn that she is destined to bear a son more powerful than his father. To avert this threat to his kingship, Zeus decides to marry her off against her will to his mortal grandson, Peleus (Pi. l.8.26-45). Thetis metamorphoses into many forms to evade Peleus but eventually yields to his violent advances; their struggle is frequently portrayed in Greek pottery.

The post-Iliadic receptions of Thetis likewise characterise her in terms of both awe and ambiguity. The Greeks deemed her both lovely and terrifying: the Thetis of Thessalian folklore commands the barren depths of the sea and wards off plagues (Aston 2009), while the lost poem Aegimius has her throw her children into a cauldron of boiling water to ascertain whether they are mortal, an ordeal which only Achilles survives. Roman writers brought new meanings to the name of Thetis, who merits the title of shapeshifter from her diverse appearances in the Latin literary tradition. Catullus describes her marriage to Peleus as voluntary and employs it to frame the epyllion of Poem 64; she resurfaces in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and features so prominently in Book 1 of Statius’ Achilleid that it is sometimes termed the ‘Theteid’ (Koster 1979: 199). Thetis has even captured the modern imagination: she appears in the cult classic Clash of the Titans (1981), in quasi-mortal form in Troy (2004), and as a prominent (albeit one-note) antagonist in Miller’s Song of Achilles (2012).

Throughout history, myths on Thetis have constantly been refashioned by creative retellings into nebulous networks of ideologically biased narratives. Even though each version differs from its counterparts, they hold one element in common: the Nereid remains a “figure of cosmic capacity” (Slatkin 1991: 12), holding sway over hearts and minds. Our desire to focus on her at the 2019 Celtic Conference in Classics, almost thirty years after the publication of The Power of Thetis, further attests to her enduring appeal. We invite proposals for papers which comprehensively reexamine the complex figure of Thetis and her depictions in different media (text, pottery, painting, song, opera, film, theatre, etc.) both in Graeco-Roman antiquity and beyond.

Papers might address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

• The nature and extent of Thetis’ power and weakness - different conceptualizations of Thetis’ position in the divine hierarchy - Thetis and the prophecy of Zeus’ downfall - Thetis’ voice and agency

• Visions of Thetis in post-Classical works: facets of Thetis’ mythos (e.g. structures of cosmic power; divine relations; maternity and mortality) reverberating in traditions, contexts, and media beyond the Greco-Roman world

• The myth of Thetis employed as political and/or social commentary - how do literary works in the Greco-Roman world take up (or activate) and reshape the paradigm of Thetis?

• The roles of gender, sexuality, and sexual violence in the mythos of Thetis - transgression and conformity - ancient and post-ancient interpretations of Thetis’ “courtship” with Zeus and Poseidon (how do we interpret Thetis’ ‘almost γάμος’ in this context?) and her relationship with Peleus - double standards concerning sexual violence, whether committed by divine characters against mortals or vice versa

• Thetis’ relationships with other deities - her sympathies and dislikes - interactions with Olympian deities (e.g. Zeus, Hera, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Apollo, etc.) and her immediate family (Nereids, Nereus)

• Thetis in relation to non-Olympian goddesses (e.g. Eos, Medea, Circe, Tethys, Metis, Amphitrite, Eurynome, Nemesis, Aphrodite) or as an exceptional character who evades obvious parallels

In the interest of fostering a comprehensive discussion, we are extending the call by one week and welcoming two categories of papers: 1) those which discuss Thetis in the Latin literary tradition, and 2) those which engage with themes of gender and sexuality through the figure of Thetis.


In order to encourage discussion of work-in-progress, we have designed our panel schedule to accommodate two different paper lengths: 20 minutes and 40 minutes. Please submit a proposal of 350 words if you would like to present a shorter paper and 500 words for the longer option, and indicate which length you prefer. The submission deadline for abstracts is 8th March 2019.

Submissions are to be sent to the following address:

Please include a short biography and specify your affiliation in the body of your email: attach the abstract as a separate file (preferably WORD/PDF) with no personal identification.

Notification of acceptance will be given by 31st March 2019.


David J. Wright (Fordham University) Maciej Paprocki (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) Gary Vos (University of Edinburgh) Astrid Khoo (King's College London)


Laura Slatkin (NYU Gallatin)

Seemee Ali (Carthage College)

Diana Burton (Victoria University of Wellington)

Peter J. Heslin (Durham University)

As the organization is unable to provide financial support, participants will need to pay for their travel and accommodation expenses as well as registration fees. A subscription fee of ca. 100€ is to be expected with some optional plans for a half day excursion and a final dinner.

categorías / tags / categorie

Fasti Congressuum is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional License
© 2014 by Fasti Congressuum. Proudly created by M. Cristina de la Escosura