The son of Nereus and the first love of Aphrodite. For a
time after her birth, the Golden Goddess lived in the waters, and there she
fell in love with the beautiful sea God Nerites. Eventually, however, Olympus
called for her, and she knew that she must go. She offered to take Nerites with
her, and wanted to give him wings. But he refused, choosing to stay with his
family (or with Poseidon, accounts vary) in the waters. Angered, Aphrodite
turned him into a sea snail.

Another story says that Nerites was Poseidon’s charioteer,
and he loved to race across the waves at a reckless speed. This caught the ire
of Helios, who prides himself on his own mastery of the chariot. Elsewhere,
Helios desired Nerites to join him in the heavens and was refused. In this
story, it is Helios who turned the beautiful God into the sea snail. Some of
the stories suggest that Nerites was also the lover of Poseidon, and that his
reluctance to leave was due to his overwhelming affection for the King of the

His sisters are, of course, the many Nereids, after whom
many Gods and Heroes have lusted.

Today the shells that get their name from Nerites form an
entire family of snails. They are small, and their shells are particularly
round and come in a wide range of colors. Nerites generally eat diatoms and
algae. They are quite unusual for snails, as they reproduce sexually! (most
snails spawn by releasing gametes.) Nerites can be salt-water or freshwater
oriented (it’s a big family.)


Hard, Robin. The
Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology
, Psych Press, 2004.
Sanders, Ed, et al. Eros in Ancient
Oxford, 2013.
Sprung, Julian. “Aquarium Invertebrates: Nerites: Bleeding Tooth, Zebras,
Checkers and More,” from Advanced
, vol. II, Sept. 2003, at


Peterson, Bob. “Checkered Nerite,” photo 2014 of a nerite
tessellate from North Palm Beach, Florida. Via wikicommons:

Massoulle, Andre-Paul Arthur. “Genie au trident chevauchant
un poisson,” bronze sculpture, 1900. Photo taken by Dr. Murali Mohan Gurram, 2013,
in the 7th arrondissement in Paris at the Pont Alexandre III. Via