Thetis was a sea nymph. One among the fifty Nereids, daughters of the Ancient Sea. Golden footed and possessor of immense beauty, she captured the hearts of many a mortal and immortal. Even Lord Zeus, king of the Olympian Gods wasn't spared. Such was the beauty and charm sheexhibited as she walked past the meadows and heavens.
Lord Zeus did not however marry her, for he was told a prophecy. A prophecy that flowed from the mouth of the golden tongued Calchas. Never had it happened nor will it ever that the words that escaped him wronged. Sceptic about the consequence following her marriage, as per the prophecy, Zeus did not want any of the gods to bear a child to Thetis.
"Beware O Lord of the Lords," Calchas had said when Zeus consulted him. "The child she is destined to bear is no ordinary one. He shall rise above the skies and over the world. His deeds and actions would be greatest, better than any of his kind. He shallrise above all his ancestors."
Rise above all his ancestors! If at all Zeus feared anything, it was being at the receiving side of the fate he had given to his father Kronos when he beat him. He couldn't bear the thought of a greater god than him being born. So he declared that no god under any circumstance or incarnation must ever marry and bear Thetis a child.
Zeus found a match for the beautiful nymph one day, a mortal one, in order to ensure that her infant was as much mortal as the gods were immortal. The lord of the Myrmidons, King Peleus, a great warrior, unbeaten, who had to his name many a victory in legendary battles, was a personal favourite to him and the find of his brother, Poseidon. No woman could imagine a mightier warrior and a manlier personthan King Peleus, but he was rejected. Declined flat on the proposal by the golden footed Thetis!
"I wouldn't marry him at the end of the heaven," Thetis had said. I have as much right to choose my husband as you have to look for a match, O father of Gods. I will marry none but the one I love most." Zeus understood her plea, but knew Peleus was the man with whom Thetis will eventually fall in love. To speed up matters, he showed Peleus of the Centaur, Chiron.
With hope keeping his heart from breaking, Peleus arrived at the cave of Chiron, the wise centaur. He expressed his sorrow to the centaur that was but very glad to suggest him how to get around the problem. He told Peleus to find Thetis when she was asleep and grab her. "Grab her from behind and leave her not, until she is impressed by your efforts. She will try to escape from you. She will transform and try to escape, but be warned. Whatever she transforms into, do not let go, for she is gifted with a remarkable skill of transformation."
Peleus listened to him. He went looking for the sea nymph, and found her sleeping in a cave by a river, and grabbed her. She struggled hard in his grip, and as he was warned, she transformed into a stream of water that froze his arms, but he did not let go. Then, she turned into a blazing fire, burning his skin, then into a raging lioness, a slithering serpent but Peleus was prepared for the worst. She eventually relaxed and then loved him.
The matrimony of Thetis and Peleus was held on Mount Pelion, outside the cave of Chiron which was attended by deities. Apollo, the sun god himself played the lyre to which the Muses sang. Chiron gave Peleus an ashen spear that had been polished by Athena whose blade was forged by Hephaestus. Poseidon gave him the immortal horses Balius and Xanthus. As the grand ceremony passed, Eris, the goddess of discord hid behind a cloud and watched with furious eyes. In the list of all the gods to invite, her name was however ignored for reasons very obvious. Not having included her name in the invites could have gone unnoticed but how could any man or god cover the absence of all gods from Olympus?
Determined to destroy any celebrations, she procured a golden apple and engraved it withthree words: "To the Fairest". This apple, she dropped among the goddesses after the feast. All the goddesses expressed their claim over the apple and argued. As the argument turned into an altercation, many goddesses backed off and only the three goddesses remained. First was the Hera, Sister and wife of Lord Zeus, goddess of marriage and womanhood. The second was Athena, goddess of strategic warfare and heroic endeavour, and the last one was Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. Powerful that the three were in their own way, no god or goddess interfered. In the end, the apple was taken to Zeus to award it to the right person in his opinion. Trapped between the three most powerful goddesses, Zeus did not dare to make the judgment himself, nor would any other god.