Background Information
Thetis was the nymph (goddess of
nature considered young and
beautiful) mother of Achilles. She was
also one of 50 daughters of Nereus. She
was the Goddess of Sea. She had
shape-shifiting abilities
Fun facts about Thetis
• Zeus and Poseidon both sought an alliance with Thetis, but as it had been
foretold that she would have a son that would gain supremacy over the father
they relinquished their intentions.
• Thetis burned alive her first 6 sons and sent their immortal spirits to Olympus.
But Peleus her mortal husband snatched the 7th which was Achilles.
• Thetis didn’t want to marry King Peleus so she changed into a sea monster to try
and escape so he held her until she changed back into a woman and agreed to
marry him.
• Thetis emotionally blackmails Zeus when she warns him ‘no other god is less
respected than I am’. This shows how she can be manipulative even towards
• ‘Olympian Zeus wise in counsel’ here Thetis is using flattery so she can get
honour for Achilles. It again highlights how cunning she can be.
• Achilles says ‘mother, since you, a goddess, bore me to live the briefest of lives’.
This reveals some resentment from Achilles towards his mother.
• ‘Hera had seen and knew that he and silver footed Thetis daughter of the old
man of the sea had hatched a plot between them’ Epithets are used here. It also
suggests that Hera is bitter about Zeus being with Thetis.
Thetis’ character as we encounter in the Iliad is both
extremely eager and desperate to please her son Achilles.
However she is tormented by the fact that everything she does
to help him will only make his brief life more miserable.
It is also clear that Thetis is cunning and manipulative and
knows exactly how to get what she wants and needs to help
her son.