Indiana University Bloomington

Thetis

Megan Vinson, comparative literature

Written for CMLT-C355: Beauty and Its Others

Instructor: Prof. Sonia Velazquez


sorrow follows all my days,

buried deep within the concave of my heart

a seed, shoved in by Fate,

has now grown large, its roots binding

me to dry earth.

 

at times I stand on the shore

dreaming of water’s sweet embrace,

thrill of my heart,

peace of my soul.

 

there are no more tears left in my eyes.

my heart has grown numb

to its burden.

 

I belong to bones.


“And Thetis made answer to him, shedding tears the while: “Hephaestus, is there now any goddess, of all those that are in Olympus, that hath endured so many grievous woes in her heart as are the sorrows that Zeus, son of Cronos, hath given me beyond all others? Of all the daughters of the sea he subdued me alone to a mortal, even to Peleus, son of Aeacus, and I endured the bed of a mortal albeit sore against my will. And lo, he lieth in his halls fordone with grievous old age, but now other griefs are mine. A son he gave me to bear and to rear, pre-eminent among warriors, and he shot up like a sapling; then when I had reared him as a tree in a rich orchard plot, I sent him forth in the beaked ships to Ilios  to war with the Trojans; but never again shall I welcome him back to his home, to the house of Peleus.” — Iliad 18.428-441

One of the interesting questions of the Odyssey is that of time and immortality. The gods, though happy with Odysseus, withhold their guidance for years. Because what is a second or an hour or year or a lifetime to a being who will live beyond eternity? Gods are able to live unaffected by the bearing down of time.

Except one. Thetis.

Thetis, who calls her self most sorrowful of all the goddesses. She is bound to a mortal man. She gave birth to a mortal child. She lives as they grow old, become sick, become injured. She lives as they die. She lives as they return to earth, as their flesh wastes away and their bones become dust. She is a goddess bound to the bones in the earth. She is a goddess who must carry the sorrow of mortality with her into eternity.

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