Tagged: Poseidon

Poseidon, one of the principal deities in ancient Greek religion, reigns as the god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses.

Recognized by his powerful trident and often accompanied by dolphins or riding in a chariot pulled by hippocamps (sea-horses), Poseidon’s influence was profound, both as a protective deity and a wrathful force.

His deep connection to the natural elements and his role in the pantheon of gods showcase the ancient Greeks’ reverence for and fear of the powerful and unpredictable forces of nature.

Origins and Family

Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea, two pre-Olympian deities. As a result, he belonged to the generation of gods that included Zeus, Hestia, Hera, Demeter, and Hades. The siblings shared a tumultuous origin story. Cronus, fearing that one of his children would overthrow him, swallowed them whole at birth.

However, when Zeus was born, Rhea hid him away and fed Cronus a stone in his stead. When Zeus grew up, he forced Cronus to regurgitate his siblings, leading to a rebellion that ended with the Titans’ defeat and the Olympians’ ascendancy.

Among the Olympians, Poseidon’s immediate family includes his wife, Amphitrite, a sea goddess, and their son Triton. However, much like Zeus, Poseidon had numerous other love affairs and fathered many children, both gods and mortals.

Dominion Over the Sea

Poseidon’s most prominent role was as the lord of the seas. Ancient sailors and fishermen, heavily reliant on the sea’s capricious nature, sought his favor for safe voyages. They offered sacrifices and erected temples in his honor along coastlines.

In myth, he resided in a magnificent underwater palace, from where he controlled not only the waves and currents but also the creatures of the deep. Poseidon’s trident, his primary symbol, was said to have the power to stir up storms, cause springs to flow, and even shake the earth.

Poseidon the Earth-Shaker

Apart from his dominion over the waters, Poseidon was also the ‘Earth-Shaker,’ responsible for earthquakes. The ancient Greeks, experiencing the natural disasters associated with tectonic shifts, personified these events through Poseidon’s mood swings. A calm sea represented his contentment, while storms and earthquakes manifested his anger.

Patron of Horses

An intriguing aspect of Poseidon’s portfolio was his association with horses, earning him the title “Hippios” or “Tamer of Horses.” Mythology credits him with creating the first horse, either in an attempt to impress Demeter or as part of a competition with Athena during the patronage contest for Athens. This association further underlines his virile, untamed nature, akin to wild stallions.

Major Myths

Poseidon features prominently in several myths. One of the most notable is his contest with Athena for the city of Athens’ patronage. Both gods presented a gift to the city’s inhabitants: Poseidon struck his trident on the Acropolis, producing a saltwater spring, while Athena offered an olive tree. The Athenians, seeing greater value in Athena’s gift, chose her as their patron, leading to the city’s name and Poseidon’s wrath, which manifested in periodic flooding.

In another legend, Poseidon vied with Apollo to serve the Trojan king Laomedon. They agreed to build the city’s walls in exchange for a reward. However, Laomedon reneged on this promise. In retaliation, Poseidon sent a sea monster to ravage the Trojan coast. This monster would later play a role in the story of Hercules and the sacrifice of the princess Hesione.

The Myth of Medusa and Poseidon

Of all the characters in Greek mythology, Medusa is perhaps the one who had the worst kind of fate. The snake-haired gorgon Medusa was not always a hideous and terrifying...