My duck had always thought that nerites were named after the nubile and naked daughters of a Greek sea-god who shared their charms with Mediterranean sailors. It seems, however, that these little snails are in fact the etymological progeny of a strapping lad who spurned a chance to meet his future father-in-law and enjoy a lifetime of hardship with the mons of Venus. For his foolishness, he was transformed into an insipid shellfish. Another account suggests that the said hunk was a gamboling friend-in-kind to Poseiden. Their mutual love produced waves of ecstacy that aroused the jealousy of Apollo, the sun god, who burned with frustration and in vexation reduced the youth to a shell of his former self.
A feminine origin for the name seems more appropriate though for Clithons, which are pea-sized nerites that lurk in shallow pools between rainfall and deep tide. For these molluscs graze instead of gobble, and each individual seeks to outshine its neighbours with markings and marblings that make no sense on creatures with no eye for colour. Like nobody's child, their christening is shrouded in some mystery. An Alexandrian general has been proposed, but I prefer the suggestion that it is a corruption of Cliton, a virgin in a pastoral play who claims the power to "help those ills that move man to distraction." It's a skill as rare as these snails that frolick in the mud of mangled roots.