Oceanus was a Greek Mythological Titan god of the river Okeanos. The river was believed to encircle the whole world at the time. It was also said to be the connection between the world with other realms such as the world of the dead where people who had passed on lived and the heavenly realm where the gods originated from.
Later on, as Greeks discovered oceans and large seas, he became the personification of the salty water from around the world. At this time, they had known the waters of Mediterranean seas, Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Initially, he represented all water beyond river Okeanos. However, when the knowledge on geography increased, he was placed as the personification of all water bodies. Later on, the Mediterranean was ruled by another god who was younger than him and called Poseidon. His sons and daughters later ruled rainwaters, fountains, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Oceanus was painted in various Greek paintings as a bull-horned titan that also had a tail of a serpentine fish. This form was later shared with other river-gods. His attributes were those of the serpent put together with those of the fish. When he was given dominion over the large waters of the world, he was depicted as having crab craw-like horn. He also had a school of fish, a serpent as well as an oar for his personification. His wife Tethys was also depicted to be by his side. In most mosaic images, she was shown as having seated beside him near the clouds. She also had wings. Her role as a Titan was to act as the mother of rain clouds.
The origin of Oceanus
Oceanus was among the first generation of Titans and the first descendant of his father Uranus and his mother, Gaea. He was later married to his sister called Tethys. Together, they begot three thousand river gods or Potamoi, and Oceanids all called the nymphs of the waters. The nymphs lived in lakes, rivers, wells, and streams that never ran dry. However, some accounts dispute that Oceanus was born from Gaea and Uranus but instead put him among the most primeval deities and was said to have been born at the same time as Gaea.
Who were the Titans?
The Titans were a race of powerful gods that ruled the world before the Olympians took power. They are said to have ruled during the golden age of humankind. This race was made of immortal giants who had incredible knowledge and strength. The knowledge included magic and old religious rituals.
The Titans were also called the elder gods, and they lived in Mount Othrys. The Titans are thought to be the personification heavens of the sky (Uranus)or the earth (Gaea). The first generation of Titans was given birth to Gaea and Uranus. There were twelve first-generation titans six of whom were male and others females.
The male titans included Cronus, Coeus, Oceanus, Iapetus, Crius, and Hyperion. The female titans included Themis, Theia, Rhea, Tethys, Phoebe, and Mnemosyne. The titans arose to power after they plotted to overthrow their father, Uranus. The rebellion was started by Cronus and the supported by his brothers and the mother. In the course of their rebellion, they castrated their father and took over the rulership of Cosmos. During their reign, they intermarried among themselves and other gods who were their relatives. It is after these marriages that the Titans gave birth to the second generation of titans.
It is believed that Tethys and Oceanus were so fertile that it led to the overproduction of water bodies across the world. This would often lead to floods. Therefore in order to prevent this from happening, they had to divorce.
The character of Oceanus
Oceanus loved peace and lived without fighting other gods around him. Unlike the rest of his brothers, he did not take part in the rebellion against his father. He also did not take part in castrating his father. Later, he refused to join his brothers to make war against the much younger Olympian gods. When there was a fight with these gods, Oceanus withdrew and did not take sides.
The war with Olympian gods ranged on. The Titans were defeated and imprisoned by Zeus in Tartarus. However, Zeus did not imprison Oceanus as he did not take part in the battle. Oceanus also did not attend the assembly of gods requested by Zeus during the period of the Trojan war.
Famous shores and Islands dedicated to Oceanus
Oceanus owned the Elysian field or the Island of the Blessed. This was the place where the souls of mortals who were extraordinary on the earth went. This place is believed to be by the shore of the ocean and somewhere in the realm of the underworld and surrounded by Oceanus. The second island was Sarpedon. This was the home of Gorgons. This island too was surrounded all over by Oceanus. This island was near the Garden of Hesperides and Erythia.
Oceanus also surrounded Erythia. It was the isle of the red sunset. It was also home to Geryon, a giant and the place where Heracles went to get himself the cattle belonging to the giant. Oceanus also surrounded the Garden of Hesperides. Although Hera controlled the island. That is why it was called Hesperia. It was believed to the isle of the evening that occurred in the far Western side of the world.
Beyond the northern stream and mountains lies the land of Hyperboreans. This was believed to be a blessed race. They kept their sacred ways for Apollo. He would come to live among the members of the race during the winter season. It was believed that people in this area lived very long lives, were not attacked, and did not suffer from illnesses. On the southern side was the Land of Ethiopians. Oceanus also encircled the shore near the land. Apollo was a youthful god of several things including poetry, music, archery, art, medicine, knowledge, light, sun and plague. Unlike many other gods, he was athletic in shape and did not have a beard. It is due to these capabilities that the people of this land benefited from his visits.