Glaukos, who speaks prophecies to sailors, an infallible divinity… Euripides

Glaukos was once an ordinary mortal fisherman who was suddenly transformed after eating a magical herb.

Like all fishermen, he was a keen observer and one afternoon he watched in amazement as a fish he had caught suddenly came back to life. Glaukos deduced that it must have been the new herbs he was using for seasoning, and thought he would try eating a large clump of the foliage instead of sprinking a pinch or so on the fillet of fish.

The herb made him immortal, but everything comes with a price.

For he began to grow fins, and his legs moved together. His feet began to flutter (as doubtless did his heart) his thighs to shake, his knees to merge and all at once he had the tail of a fish. Poor Glaukos was forced to dwell forever in the sea.

Although initially in great distress, Glaukos was calmed by Oceanus and Tethys. He learned to appreciate his startling appearance, for he was now a blue-skinned merman, with copper-green hair and a serpentine fish-tail in place of legs. And life underwater was not so bad. He was welcomed into the realm of the sea, congratulated by various water deities and accepted by all of the denizens of the great oceans. It was there, in the dark green depths, that he learned the art of prophecy.

Glaucus fell in love with the beautiful nymph Scylla, but she fled in terror onto land. The merman asked Circe for a potion to make Scylla fall in love with him, but Circe, instead, fell in love with him. When she spoke in loving words of her passion for the former fisherman, he scorned her outright and most cruelly.

Trees will grow on the ocean floor and seaweed on the highest mountain, he said, before I stop my love for Scylla.

In fury, Circe poisoned the pool where Scylla bathed, transforming her into a terrible monster with twelve feet and six heads.

Poor Scylla went to live alone in a submerged cave overlooking a narrow channel of water, there to harass sailors for eternity but Glaukos remained in love with her and mourned her loss deeply.

As Scylla terrorised and destroyed passing mariners, Glaukos went out of his way to assist all seafarers. It is said that he helped Menelaus, but the King of Lacedaemon was just one of many lost humans on the seas who had cause to be grateful to Glaukos.

The Argonauts met Glaukos while sailing the sea of Marmaras. The ‘ sage spokesman of the sea-god Nereus’ emerged from the water as far down as his waist, and laid his sturdy hand on the side of the Argos, giving Jason the benefit of his prophecies

Before you set sail in a small boat, spare a thought for Glaukos, offer some bread to the waters in friendship, and sail safely under the protection of the former fisherman.