Here are some relevant references from the Books where Thassa is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
I have included this section because this topic is yet another pet-peeve of mine. Specifically the fact that Thassa is an entity of itself. It is not a thing.
Too many people refer to Thassa in a sentence like this: "The Vosk delta empties into the thassa." Or "The thassa is the sea on Gor." Or even something as simple as "Thassa means the sea".
Thassa is, instead, a personal pronoun. That means it is a name.
Hopefully you would not refer to me as "the Fogaban". That is not proper grammar.
And while I don't really care what you call me, it shows great disrespect to Gor and Gorean knowledge to refer to Thassa in any other manner than to consider it a living thing.
The word Thassa is never, ever shown in the Books as "the Thassa". What I mean is, the word 'the' never appears directly in front of the word 'Thassa' when refering to the sea.
And the word 'Thassa' is always capitalized.
There are three instances where "the" appears directly before "Thassa" but as shown, it is referring to a ship, a river and Thassa indirectly.
"Sound and hale," said the man, "on the ship of Samos, the Thassa Ubara."
"We have only one choice," said Samos. "You must take another ship, the Dorna or the Tesephone, or you may take my flagship, the Thassa Ubara."
"We now know that the Thassa Cartius and the subequatorial Cartius are not the same river."
The actual source of the tributary to the Vosk, now called the Thassa Cartius, as you know, was found five years later by the explorer, Ramus of Tabor, who, with a small expedition, over a period of nine months, fought and bartered his way through the river tribes, beyond the six cataracts, to the Ven highlands. The Thassa Cartius, with its own tributaries, drains the highlands and the descending plains."
"Even the bargemen of the Cartius proper, the subequatorial Cartius, and those of the Thassa Cartius, far to the north, thought the rivers to be but one waterway."
"Particularly since it was known of the hostility of the river tribes on what is now called the Thassa Cartius."
This inclination, incidentally, is not all that uncommon among individuals whose fortunes tend to be intimately involved in such matters as importation and exportation, the location and exploitation of foreign markets, and, in general, the overseas trade, the Thassa and island trade.
Ko-ro-ba lay in the midst of green and rolling hills, some hundreds of feet above the level of the distant Tamber Gulf and that mysterious body of water beyond it, spoken of in Gorean simply as Thassa, the Sea.
I wondered at the things she said to me for they seemed strange, perhaps more so to my ears than they would have to one bred and raised from infancy as a Gorean, one as much accustomed to the submission of women as to the tides of the gleaming Thassa or the phases of the three moons.
I saw even a black larl, a huge catlike predator more commonly found in mountainous regions; it was stalking away, retreating unhurried like a king; before what, I asked myself, would even the black larl flee; and I asked myself how far it had been driven; perhaps even from the mountains of Ta-Thassa, that loomed in this hemisphere, Gor's southern, at the shore of Thassa, the sea, said to be in the myths without a farther shore.
The ashes, Kuurus judged, since the body had been wrapped in the scarlet leather of a tarnsman, would be scattered from tarnback, perhaps over distant Thassa, the sea.
It is said that men once having seen Thassa are never willing to leave it again, that those who have left the sea are never again truly happy.
I could smell the sea, gleaming Thassa, in the myths said to be without a farther shore.
I reached down from the rush craft and took a palm of water into my hand and touched my tongue to it. Thassa could not be far beyond.
I expected I would again, however, return to Thassa. She, as it is said, cannot be forgotten.
In Se'Kara, particularly later in the month, there are often high seas on Thassa.
He was bound, traveling over the hills and meadowlands east and north of Ko-ro-ba, for the city of Laura, which lies on the banks of the Laurius river, some two hundred pasangs inland from the coast of the sea, called Thassa.
One of the girls in the frame lifted her head, and, miserable, surveyed our ship, off shore, on the green waters of Thassa.
There was a salt smell in the air, swift and bright in the wind. Thassa was beautiful.
I looked down into Thassa. The glittering surface of the water, broken by the stroke of the oars, seemed to swirl.
"We of Port Kar," I said, "have little quarrel generally with those of Scagnar, but it is true that the ships of this Thorgard have preyed with devastation upon our shipping. Many men of Port Kar has he given to the bosom of Thassa."
"I have much fear," said Samos. I regarded him. I had seldom seen him so. I looked at the heavy, squarish face, burned by the wind and salt of Thassa, the clear eyes, the white, shortly cropped hair, the small golden rings in his ears.
The Vosk is a mighty river which flows westward, emptying into a vast rence delta, finding its way eventually to Thassa, the sea.
The world's end was said to lie beyond Cos and Tyros, at the end of Thassa, at the world's edge.
"The rain forests closed the Cartius proper for most civilized persons from the south," I said, "and what trading took place tended to be confined to the Ubarates of the southern shore of Lake Ushindi. It was convenient then, for trading purposes, to make use of either the Kamba or the Nyoka to reach Thassa."
This same standardization, in the region of the Tamber Gulf and south, along the shore of Thassa, tends to be effected by the golden tarn of Port Kar.
The Dorna was a ship, a tarn ship, a ram ship, shallow-drafted, straight-keeled, single-banked, lateen-rigged, carrel-built, painted green, difficult to detect in the rolling waters of Thassa, out of Port Kar.
"It is Thassa, the Sea, Mistress," said the girl.
"What sea is it?" I asked.
"That is how we think of her," said the girl, "as the sea, Thassa."
In all this time we had been gradually moving north and westward, slowly toward the coast, toward Thassa, the Sea.
The navies of Tyros and Cos, for most practical purposes, command the green waves of gleaming Thassa.
It must be remembered, too, that these were river galleys and, on the whole, smaller than the galleys of Thassa.
In time, perhaps a few months, it might even find its way to the Tamber, and, perhaps, in time, to the surgent green washes, the vast rolling swells, of Thassa herself, the sea.
Too, far off now, like the sounds of Thassa breaking on a distant shore, we could hear the crowds.
The first tarnsman turned the train westward. In that direction would lie Thassa, the sea, and perhaps the port of Brundisium.
of the lovely island of Cos, in Thassa.
It rained heavily that night, the storm coming in from Thassa.
"Ours," I said, "was the last patrol of the season. Thassa grows cold, and angry. I advise you to turn about and lay to port, if you have a port. This is no time to tempt the indulgence of Priest-Kings, no time to tempt the season, or the patience of Thassa.
Thassa was restless.
This was no time to be abroad on Thassa. Did they know so little of her moods, of her temper?
Thassa, subtle and minacious, welcoming and threatening, benignant and perilous, restless, sparkling, and dangerous, green, vast, intriguing, beckoning Thassa. It is easy to see how she calls to men, she is so alluring and beautiful, and it is easy, as well, to see how, with her might and whims, her moods and power, she may inspire fear in the stoutest of hearts. Be warned, for the wine of Thassa is a heady wine. She may send you gentle winds and shelter you in her great arms, bearing you up, or should she please, break you and draw you down, destroying you, to mysterious, unsounded deeps. In her cups you may find many things, the unalienable riches of moonlight on water, her whispering in long nights, against the hull, her unforgettable glory in the morning, the brightness of her noontide, the transformations of her sunset and dusk, her access to far shores, the sublime darkness of her anger, the lashing and howling of her winds, the force and authority of her waves, like pitching mountains. She is the love of the Caste of Mariners. She is a heady wine. Her name is Thassa.
I had heard of Port Kar. It was well to the north and west, where the waterways of the Vosk's delta drained into the Tamber Gull the city's sea walls fronting the gulf on the south, Thassa the sea, on the west. Was it not from the sea gates of Port Kar that the galleys of the dreaded Bosk, Bosk of Port Kar, clove the dark waters of restless Thassa?
The moods of Thassa are capricious, and the might of her winds and waves prodigious.
I looked back, briefly, at the cold beach, and the restless, shimmering expanse of Thassa, and the horizon beyond it.
I was told, one does not take to Thassa, the sea, in the winter. Even in the summer, with her storms and moods, she is daunting, unruly, and dangerous. In the winter, I was told, it would be madness to venture amongst the swirling mountains of her waves, the cold and bitter hammers of her winds.
I would learn the gravity of Gor, for it was on this world I now was, was less than that of Earth, the planet being somewhat smaller, though it would have more land surface than Earth, as it possessed only one mighty ocean, not two, that ocean being restless, turbulent, gleaming Thassa, the sea.
They are found in fresh water, but return, through the delta of the Vosk, to the salt water of vast, turbulent Thassa to spawn.
Gorean sharks, in their several varieties, of course, are much more common in the waters of Thassa herself, particularly near the shallower banks, where sunlight encourages the growth of plants, and the plants attract several varieties of smaller fish, the parsit and others, on which the sharks feed.
There is only one city I am aware of in which the caste of thieves is explicitly recognized, which is a port on the Tamber Gulf, bordering Thassa, the sea.
I do not know where, for the body hood, in the vicinity of Brundisium, that the tarn rider brought his immense, broad-winged beast to earth, but I think it must have been near the coast, probably south of the port, as we had come from Ar, for I heard gulls and smelled Thassa, the sea.
As my master continued his watch, or prolonged his inquiries, I was occasionally allowed out of the court, usually to fetch water from the stone steps under the Cloth Market Bridge, which, with other bridges, spanned the Lena, one of the two streams that flowed through the city and debouched into Thassa.
The lesser wharves, or piers, are the southern wharves or piers, where they are divided by the Dacia, as it feeds into Thassa.
"But what you may not know," he said, "is that Gor has more land surface than Earth. She has her turbulent, mighty Thassa, but she has no second, vast sea, like that you speak of as the Pacific."
"I know of Thassa," I said, "and of lesser lakes or seas, but none that are comparable to Thassa. "
Had these realities not been contrived in the innocent corridors of evolution, with no more thought or intention than the tides of Thassa or the orbits of worlds?
Some women sold here were imported from what was called The World's End, which was lands, or islands, across green, turbulent, mighty Thassa, the Sea.
"Then it is Port Kar, her raiders, outside, in the streets, the scourge of Thassa!" cried a slave.
"How goes the blaze?" I heard.
"It rages, it will consume the docks," I heard.
"No," said a fellow. "It will be contained. Hundreds are at the wharves. Containers, on their ropes, are cast into gleaming Thassa, and make their way, passed from hand to hand, to be cast upon the fire."
Brundisium is a major port, her mighty harbor berthing vessels from a thousand ports, vessels large and small, square-rigged and lateen-rigged, clinker built and carvel built, ships mercantile and naval, round ships and long ships, come from as far as Schendi in the south, and Torvaldsland to the north, vessels hailing from Tabor, Asperiche, and Anango, vessels from the mouths of the Cartius and Vosk, from Port Kar, on the shallow Tamber Gulf, whose waters mingle with those of Thassa, from the Ubarates of Cos and Tyros, and the Farther Islands, from as far away, even, as the World's End.
"The ship is hard to see, is it not?" she said.
"It is low, close to the water," I said.
"It is green, like the green of Thassa," she said.
"It is such a color," I said. I supposed such a color would blend in well with a common mood of Thassa, the sea.
"It is a long ship," she said, "no sail set, the mast down, thus less detectible at a distance, painted green, not easily noticed in the swells of Thassa."
The northern and eastern seawalls of Port Kar abut on the vast marshes of the Vosk delta, the western and southern on the Tamber. And beyond the Tamber, less than an Ahn's rowing, lies Thassa, the sea.
I was well within a pasang of the great arsenal of Port Kar, with its warehouses, shops, vast shipyard, and inner harbor. By means of four large, deep canals, in which even two round ships could pass one another, one could, passing through the arsenal sea gates and the western and southern sea gates, communicate with the Tamber, and thence, shortly, with Thassa, the sea.
There are few who have met the long, low, swift, knifelike ram ships of Port Kar, often painted green, which color blends in with many of the moods of Thassa, either as corsairs or attack vessels, who do not respect, even dread and fear them.
Those of Port Kar do not, of course, speak of their city as the "Scourge of Thassa," though, as I understand it, they find it convenient that others should do so. Many are the weapons of war, and a suitable reputation, one which might inspire caution, or trepidation, in a foe, is not negligible amongst them. Amongst her citizens, Port Kar is often spoken of as the "Jewel of Gleaming Thassa."
"Seriously, noble patrons," he continued, "you know the taste and discrimination of the noble Samos of your own city, lovely Port Kar, Jewel of Gleaming Thassa, he with whom you share a Home Stone.
A second danger has to do with tidal levels. In my situation the rising tide in Thassa and the Tamber Gulf will wash back into the marshes.
I knew little of Bosk, of Port Kar. Certainly I had not seen him, at least not to my knowledge. Little seemed to be known of many of this city. I wondered if this were a heritage from the days when there was no Home Stone in Port Kar, when she was known broadly as the "Scourge of Thassa," a den of thieves, pirates, and cutthroats, rather than as she now chose to speak of herself, as the "Jewel of Gleaming Thassa."
We were on Chios, the closest of the three 'Farther Islands', Chios, Thera, and Daphna, those islands beyond Tyros and Cos, once taken as marking the end of a world, beyond which lay only terror and mystery, and the devouring, waiting, stirring vastness of turbulent Thassa, the sea, fierce summoner of winds, raiser of storms, caster of fire, player with ships, jealous of her secrets. Were there not rumors of monsters, behemoths, the strike of whose thrashing tails could shatter hulls, of watery countries of impassable, seeking, floating, thick, clutching vines, avid to ensnare travelers, of inescapable spinning wells in the sea, capturing and sinking even the largest of vessels? And what of the abyss, beyond the brink of Thassa, where ships fell, plunging a thousand pasangs down, perishing?
"From distances the mind must strive to grasp," he said. "Even from east of far Cos and Tyros, from a shore so dreadful and far that even Thassa herself will go no further."
"A shore so appalling?" I asked.
"Yes," said he, "where lies a citadel of ruthless cunning, of envy, violence, wrath, murder, and greed, of arrant ambition, a lawless, bestial port, feared from Torvaldsland to Schendi, a port the scourge of turbulent Thassa, a den of thieves and cutthroats, a lair of pirates, near whose walls fish dare not swim, over which birds refuse to fly."
More than once we had lowered our masts and sails, and our low ships, painted green, the pirate color, difficult to detect in the waves of Thassa, had lain almost flat in the water.
Too, I feared the Dorna, even disguised, might be recognized. It was not unknown on Thassa, particularly in the contested waters between Port Kar and the major marine ubarates, Cos and Tyros.
The Tesephone was small, light, and clean-lined. It was like a whisper on the water. It was inconspicuous, helm-responsive, and swift. Few vessels on Thassa, I thought, could match its speed, or close with it at close quarters.
"Surely," said Clitus. "They are without succor. They are stranded, lost at sea, helpless, only women, three women, free women, perhaps even of high caste. They will die of thirst or hunger. Thassa becomes restless. Timbers may part. They could be washed from their refuge. The fragment of their vessel lists, it takes on water, it sinks."
"Our poor vessel, the Doris," said the first, "was beset by pirates, two days ago, by the dreaded corsair, the merciless Bosk of Port Kar, rogue of Thassa!"
"The Dorna and Tesephone are sleek and swift," I said. "I think few vessels on Thassa could match their speed. And the pursuers, if they wish to remain together, are no faster than their slowest ship."
"What is the likelihood," I asked, "that in the wide and open waters of mighty Thassa one might encounter a tiny, listing fragment of a shattered vessel, with three passengers, free women, in desperate need of succor?"
"Away with cavils," said Archelaos. "I myself am now sanguine. The matter is surely possible. Listen with your blood, your fierce, pounding blood, dear Admiral. Is this not what we have been waiting for? Consider the matter. We now know where to look, and what to do. A curtain is drawn back. Secrets are sensed. And secrets must be vulnerable; so rarely are they kept. Cannot plans be learned, or shrewdly conjectured? Let the enemy sense himself safe. Let him not know his lair has been discovered. Let him not know he is stalked, that he is destined for a rendezvous at sea, one as bitter as the waters of churning Thassa herself."
I was more troubled by the fact that on the voyage from the Cove of Harpalos to the beach of Nicosia we had not encountered the small, dark island originally encountered on the voyage from Nicosia to the Cove of Harpalos. Similarly, on the voyage from Nicosia to Sybaris, after painting the Tesephone white and yellow, colors of the Merchants, so that it would stand out, and not be difficult to detect amongst the billows of Thassa, we had again failed to encounter the small, dark island.
"What mercy should be shown to you?" I asked. "You are the worthless, lying minions of the nefarious Bosk of hated Port Kar, scourge of gleaming Thassa!"
Shortly thereafter six ships were aflame, four fifty-oared, two thirty-oared. Smoke curled into the sky, mingling its fumes with the fresh salt air of Thassa. From where we stood fire raged, loud, hissing, devouring wood and canvas, heated air leaping past us.
The fresh, salt smell of Thassa was in the air. Already one could hear voices from the wharves, loading captains, stevedores, berthless mariners at the hiring tables.
"Better to die at sea, in the open air," he said, "on treacherous, beautiful, mighty Thassa than in an alley in Sybaris."
We continued to stand at the rail, regarding Thassa.
"When one spits paga, and drains paga, into ones garments, soaking them with paga, that result is only to be expected," he said. "Do not fear, nor abandon camp. I will shortly burn my robes and blanket and wash in Thassa."
"Burn your clothing and wash your body," I said. "Gleaming Thassa awaits."
A land breeze was moving toward Thassa.
Thassa was in one of her quiet, pleasant moods. The sky was blue, the clouds a congenial white, the waters gentle and calm from horizon to horizon.
"Your recent experiences have been unpleasant," I said. "You have been, if not wholly immersed, much drenched in the waves and spray of Thassa. You are soaked. As a consequence, your robes and veils cling muchly to your bodies and features. Thus it is hinted that you, beneath all, though free women, are females. Accordingly, I suggest that you readjust your veils and pull your garments away from your bodies. I think you can understand the reason for this. There are men aboard."
"You are, I take it," I said, "the dreaded Bosk of Port Kar, come from that port known to many as the Scourge of Thassa, that Bosk of Port Kar come to mercilessly pillage and plunder the innocent, peace-loving Farther Islands of Thassa, Thera, Chios, and Daphna?"
"And I, Bosk of Port Kar," he said, "am powerful in Port Kar. I can abet your aims and hopes. I can sway the Council of Captains, that body sovereign in Port Kar, to enleague themselves with your faction. Consider the value of a mighty alliance between you, the Peasantry of the Farther Islands, and the sea-scouring navies of Port Kar, the Jewel of Gleaming Thassa."
The salt scent of Thassa, borne inland over the piers, was bright in our nostrils.
"All right," said Thurnock, "we will paint her green, the green of Thassa, green as night is to the sleen, green as high, tawny grass is to the larl."
"I feared naval warfare," I said. "Their collars would not protect them from fire or the high, cold waves of Thassa."
"Port Kar," I said, "is the scourge of the sea."
"She is the jewel of gleaming Thassa," said the voice.
"Night is filled with hazards," said Sakim. "Who but the bold and desperate will risk Thassa in the darkness?"
But, masts down, it can be difficult amongst the waves of gleaming Thassa to detect the presence of a swift, shallow-drafted Gorean fighting ship.
I supposed that there were worst places to die, if one must, than in the midst of ringing metal on a goodly morning, on the deck of a fine, if disabled, ship, on the bright waves of Thassa, amongst friends, in the light of Tor-Tu-Gor. But death will take care of itself. It is life which requires attention.
"They will not think so for long," said Sakim, "as our oars taste Thassa and our prows are set for Thera."
"Shall we now give the gold to the waves of mighty Thassa?" I called.
"It seems," said Sakim, "that we have Thassa to ourselves."
"Thassa is wide, and ships are small," said Thurnock.
"Our lads are strong and skilled," said Clitus. "I would match them for a time against any on Thassa."
In this interval several of our men, moving the screens forward like walls, thrust mercenaries from the slick deck. Some other mercenaries, comprehending their predicament, had already cast aside their shields and weapons and had crawled or rolled to the railless edge of the Tesephone and plunged overboard, preferring the jeopardy of Thassa to the near certitude of extermination.
"No!" I heard, a long scream from the water, presumably from one of the mercenaries forced from our deck, or one of those who had earlier preferred the risk of Thassa to that of our crew.
At this point I was reasonably sure, despite the loss of one of our rudders, that we could bring the Tesephone, aflame, against one of the enemy ships. Over a short distance I would have matched her in speed against anything on Thassa. The Dorna, on the other hand, was crippled, and slow in the water.
"Glass of the Builders," I said, and Sakim handed me the instrument. I trained the glass on the oncoming vessel.
"It is not circling," said Sakim, his eyes half closed against the shimmering brightness of Thassa.
Cheering now shifted, like a mood of mighty, capricious, rolling, thundering Thassa, into cries of rage and voluble threatening imprecation, into violent jeering and hooting, into torrents of insult and ridicule, into a storm of scorn and mockery.
"Perhaps they are porters, and intend to take on water," said the second of the trident bearers.
"The water of Thassa?" I asked.
Thassa was not a fresh-water sea. Hundreds of rivers and streams, for centuries, had been bringing salt into its deep, turbulent waters.
"Port Kar," I said, "is far off, on the continent itself, on the Tamber Gulf, on the eastern shore of Thassa."
"Do not blame yourself," said Sakim. "As in Thassa, there are currents, deep and swift. They carry one where they wish."
"Stroke," I called.
"Stroke," called the keleustes, and his mallet struck the metal drum, and oars, as one, dipped into the waters of gleaming Thassa.
I had managed to acquire Talena at the World's End, far beyond even the Farther Islands, Thera, Chios, and Daphna, across Thassa, the Sea, herself.
He wore a mariner's garb, with the soft, brimless cap, but it showed little evidence of having been exposed to the wind and salt of Thassa.
"There is now," I said, "a Home Stone in Port Kar, the Jewel of Gleaming Thassa."
Subsequently she, with others, was carried to Port Kar, a port on the Tamber Gulf, near Thassa.
Strange, I thought, how Decius Albus had elected a holding so far from the kiss of Thassa.
"When the Voltai crumbles to dust," he had said. "When Thassa abandons her shores."
Force them into the sea! Redden Thassa! Turn the sea scarlet!
Thus Thassa herself, the dark turbulent sea, was contributing to the effort.
It did not seem likely that Decius Albus, nor the two fishing vessels and their crews, would leave coastal waters and risk the perils of Thassa in an attempt to reach Cos directly.
"Port Kar," said one of the mercenaries, "is the Scourge of Gleaming Thassa."
"It is the Jewel of Gleaming Thassa," I said. "In Port Kar, there is now a Home Stone."
The Tesephone was a trim, swift, shallow-drafted knife ship. It was twenty-oared, with two men to an oar. It was light and maneuverable. In my opinion, few ships on Thassa could match her agility and speed. Too, as she was small and shallow-drafted, she could also navigate the lower reaches of many rivers, and even streams. The Dorna was much larger, a dangerous ramship. It was fifty-oared, with two men to an oar. It had a reputation on Thassa which reached even to the Farther Islands. I thought that few ships on Thassa would care to engage her.
As the Tesephone eased from her berth, gently turning toward Thassa, I went aft and ascended the five steps to the small stern castle. I looked back toward Brundisium, and waved to my friends. Another figure, a darker figure, was on the dock, as well. He drew his sword and lifted it. I, too, drew mine and lifted it.