Nerites is the only son of Nereus and Doris, sole brother of the fifty Nereid sisters. He is allegedly the absolute most handsome of the male species, mortal or immortal. Before Aphrodite emerged on land in Cyprus, she lived beneath the sea. Nerites was her only lover. When she was admitted to the Olympian pantheon, Aphrodite wanted Nerites to accompany her as her consort. He wasn’t interested in joining any new pantheon, preferring to stay in the sea with his family. Aphrodite gave him wings so that he could travel back and forth between realms. Nerites wasn’t interested. He underestimated Aphrodite. Angered and unwilling to see her lover with anyone else, she transformed him into a scallop or cockle shell, one of her primary emblems. Then she found other companions for herself, including Ares, Eros, Hermes, and Hephaestus.
Another version of Nerites’ transformation suggests that he engaged in a very happy, mutually satisfying love affair with Poseidon, his sister Amphitrite’s husband. He somehow annoyed Helios either by challenging him to a race or because Helios couldn’t stand the speed with which Nerites swam alongside Poseidon’s chariot. Helios transformed Nerites into a mollusk. Regardless of who effected the transformation, Nerites’ power and essence may be accessed via his sacred shells.
According to one myth, Aphrodite took the wings originally intended for Nerites and bestowed them upon Eros, who then became her constant companion and lover.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.