Greek God of the Sea
Poseidon was god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses. He is considered one of the most bad-tempered, moody and greedy Olympian gods. His vengeance when insulted was also legendary.
He is the son of Cronus and Rhea and was swallowed by his father along with Hades, Demeter, Hestia and Hera. Legend has it that Cronus did this to prevent a prophecy in which one of his children would overthrow him. He was right to be cautions as Zeus later rescued Poseidon and his siblings, leading to the overthrow of Cronus and the establishment of the Olympian gods.
Poseidon was portrayed as a strong, mature man with a dark beard, wielding a trident or (a three-pronged fisherman’s spear). He was moody by nature: his temperament was unstable at best, and his emotional fluctuations often resulted in violence.
Poseidon In Mythology
In some folklore stories it is believed that Poseidon, like Zeus, was not swallowed by Cronus because his mother Rhea concealed him among a flock of lambs. She then pretended to have given birth to a colt, which was devoured by Cronus instead.
After the gods defeated the Titans, the world was divided into three and Zeus, Hades and Poseidon drew straws to decide which they would rule. Zeus drew the skies, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the seas. There is only one reference to this divide, by Homer in the Iliad.
In the epic battle between the Olympians and Titans, Poseidon played a pivotal role. Armed with his trident, a gift from the Cyclopes, he helped the Olympians claim victory. His trident became a symbol of his power to cause earthquakes and control the seas.
Contest with Athena
Poseidon and Athena competed to become the patron deity of Athens. Poseidon struck the Acropolis with his trident, creating a saltwater spring, while Athena offered an olive tree. The Athenians chose Athena’s gift, but Poseidon was honored in the Erechtheion.
Assault on Demeter
Pursuing Demeter, Poseidon transformed into a horse. Demeter, disguising herself as a mare, couldn’t evade him, and from their union, the horse Arion was born. This myth underscores Poseidon’s connection to horses and his aggressive pursuit of desires.
Role in the Trojan War
Poseidon was instrumental in the Trojan War, supporting the Greeks. He was involved in the construction of Troy’s walls but, feeling cheated by King Laomedon, he sent a sea monster to attack Troy. However, Zeus commanded him to withdraw from the battlefield, and he reluctantly obeyed.
Conflict with Odysseus
Poseidon’s wrath against Odysseus began when the hero blinded his son, Polyphemus. As a result, Poseidon cursed Odysseus with a long and perilous journey home from Troy, filled with storms and misfortunes.
Poseidon’s Wife and Children
Amphitrite was known for her beauty and serene nature. She initially fled from Poseidon’s advances but was eventually brought back to him by a dolphin, symbolizing the god’s persuasive power over the sea and its creatures. As queen of the sea, Amphitrite is often depicted alongside Poseidon in art, representing the calmer aspects of the sea, in contrast to her husband’s more tumultuous nature.
In all of the many myths surrounding Poseidon though, he was said to have had many consorts, some willing and some by force. From these unions, there are mention in mythology over over 200 different children. These are a selection of some of the most interesting:
A merman and the messenger of the sea, Triton is known for his trumpet made of a conch shell, which he used to calm or raise the waves.
A Cyclops and son of Poseidon, Polyphemus was blinded by Odysseus. His story highlights Poseidon’s vengeful nature when his children are harmed.
The winged horse born from the blood of Medusa after she was slain by Perseus. Pegasus is a symbol of poetic inspiration and heroism.
Rhodos and Benthesikyme
Rhodos was associated with the island of Rhodes and was revered as a sea goddess. Benthesikyme, less known, was also linked to the sea.
A divinely-bred, extremely swift horse, Arion was known for his speed and ability to speak. He played a role in the myth of Heracles.
A mysterious goddess associated with the Arcadian mysteries, Despoina’s myths are shrouded in secrecy, reflecting her chthonic and agricultural associations.
A hero who tamed Pegasus and slew the Chimera. Bellerophon’s story is one of hubris and divine retribution, with Poseidon playing a background role in his fate.
Poseidon is most famously associated with these symbols and sacred animals:
- Trident: His most iconic symbol, representing his dominion over the sea.
- Horse: Symbolizing his role as God of Horses, the creation of the horse and his association with horse races.
- Bull: Often sacrificed to Poseidon, representing strength and fertility.
- Dolphin: Embodying intelligence and a connection to the sea.
- Fish and other marine creatures: Representing his rule over the oceans.
Facts about Poseidon
- Poseidon was most notably the God of the sea and the protector of all waters; sailors relied upon him for safe passage.
- Poseidon was allotted his dominion after the fall of the Titans.
- Zeus and Hades were his brothers.
- It stands to reason that, because of his influence on the waters, he was worshipped in connection with navigation.
- He was also worshipped as a fertility god, not surprising given the number of children he sired!
- His name is Greek for “husband.” Poseidon means either “husband of the earth” or “lord of the earth.”
- He wielded the trident or three-pronged spear, and this image of him is reflected in art.
- Poseidon could strike the ground with his trident to produce an earthquake. This earned him the nickname “Earth-shaker.”
- Poseidon possessed a palace, made of gems and coral, located on the ocean floor. He was at Mount Olympus more often than his palace.
- He was similar to Zeus in that he liked to exert power over women and flaunt his rugged masculinity. At times, however, his efforts were appreciated. Poseidon saved Amymone from a satyr.
- His primary means of transportation was a chariot pulled by horses.
- His grudge against Odysseus is one theme in the Odyssey.
- He was also the biological father of Orion, Polyphemus, Pelias, and many others.
- One of his most notable dalliances involved his sister Demeter. She refused his advances by turning herself into a mare. He then transformed into a stallion and pursued her. Their relations produced a horse, Arion.
- Despite Poseidon’s connection to chariots and ships, Athena was the first to make one of each.
Other Articles That Mention Poseidon
Poseidon was the Greek god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses. Sailors relied upon him for safe passage.
His weapon and main symbol was the trident. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Poseidon’s trident, like Zeus’s thunderbolt and Hades’ helmet, was fashioned by the three Cyclopes
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