Here stands Neptune,
the counterpart of the greek god Poseidon,
the roman god of freshwater and the sea,
in his left hand his trident,
and on his right, kneeling,
the sea nymph Thetis,
also known as the goddess of water.
What is she saying and why is she kneeling?
Wasn't it Poseidon, who fell in love with her
and desired her as his wife?
As also Zeus lusted after her.
But that was before this scene.
Both wanted Thetis at that time,
Thetis herself favoured Zeus,
but there was a slight problem.
An oracle, which foretold
that the son she bore
would become greater than his father.
That was quite a damper on the ambitions
of the gods, and none of them
wanted to take on the risk.
So it became, that she should marry Peleus,
a brave and kind, but a little bit boring human,
where it would be no problem (for the gods),
if his son was mightier than him.
Thetis was not amused at all and angry,
that an oracle would crimp her plans,
but this is another story.
The son, who became mightier than
his father was Achilles,
hero of the Trojan War
and the central character and greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.
And finally we are back to this scene on the fountain:
Thetis is entreating Neptune
to favour the voyage of her son, Achilles,
who has set off to conquer Troy.
But why this scene, in a place
with about 350 km distance
as the crow flies, to the sea?
Well, Neptune driving across the seas
in dominion over the watery element,
was a common motif for monarchs
in 16th to 18th-century art,
and acted as a symbol for controlling
the destiny of their nations.
You can find this fountain in Schönbrunn
in Vienna, where it was finished in 1780
for Maria Theresa.