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Poseidon – The Greek God of Sea

Poseidon is considered to be one of the twelve original Olympian Gods of Greek mythology.

He is known to have been swallowed by his father, Chronos who was the youngest of all the Greek Titans. Later, when Chronos’s other son, Zeus, grew up, he rescued Poseidon and made Chronos eject Poseidon from his stomach. After which, the brothers teamed up to oust their father, Chronos.

Poseidon - The Greek God of Sea

According to Plato, Poseidon stands for omniscient or someone who knows everything.

Poseidon’s Appearance

Poseidon looked very similar to Zeus and had a dense, long beard with beautiful, thick curly hair with a strong and intense gaze. He rode a chariot run by 4 horses and held a trident which was his major weapon as well as symbol.

He is even depicted as a formidable god of the sea, standing on the waves featuring the trident or the fishing spear. And his scream was so loud that it sounded like a combined fierce roar of ten thousand men together.

It’s rightly said that Poseidon was the creator of the first horse called Skyphios. Skyphios originated from a rock that was bashed by Poseidon. During the famous Greek battle of Gigantomachy, where the giants fought against the Olympian gods, Poseidon broke off the Kos island using his trident and buried the Giant called Polybotes under one of the broken pieces. This island in the present-day geography is called the Nisyros island.

Poseidon’s Epithets

Poseidon’s Epithets
  • God of the Seas  
  • Tamer and father of Horses 
  • The Earthshaker 
  • The God of the Springs
  • The protector of Seafarers
  • Leader of the Nymphs

His symbols are the Trident, Dolphin, Horse, and fish

Poseidon is always pictured with a Trident and is seen riding a chariot which is being pulled by Hippocampuses (Horses with the bodies of fish)

Like how his siblings were swallowed by their father Chronos, Poseidon too met the same fate. But he was saved by Zeus, according to one version of the lore, while according to other versions, it was his mother that saved him by hiding him in between a flock of lambs. Although, she pretended she had given birth to a colt which she then proceeded to give Chronos to devour.

It is said that Poseidon received the Sea while his brothers Hades became the ruler of the underworld and Zeus became the Lord of the skies. Poseidon was known to be a short-tempered and violent God and was a loose cannon amongst all deities.

Poseidon’s Family

  • Mother: Rhea
  • Father: Chronos
  • Brothers: Zeus and Hades
  • Sisters: Hestia Demeter and Hera 

Important Mythological Events Associated with Poseidon

Important Mythological Events Associated with Poseidon

Athens and Athena

Any seafaring nation, Poseidon thought would always flourish better under his leadership. So he went to the Athenians and gave them an offer where he told them they would be better off with him being the major God of worship rather than Athena.

It was decided in the Acropolis (Center of religious worship) that both the Gods would give one gift each to the Athenians, and whichever gift was chosen would result in that God being the center of worship in the city.

He used his trident to strike the ground, and a spring erupted, pouring water into the city. The only problem was that it was saltwater, which had no use in the city. There is an alternate version where it is said that Poseidon created the Horse to give to the citizens of Athens. The horse symbolizes hard work, transportation, and use in battle.

Meanwhile, Athena  planted an olive tree. The tree symbolized the presence of wood, oil, and food which was the more useful of the two gifts the Gods had offered. The Athenians and their king choose Athena over Poseidon.  Athena won the contest but irked Poseidon.

Poseidon, in his fury, challenged Athena to battle. But Zeus intervened and put the matter in front of the divine tribunal. Zeus remained neutral and did not vote, and Hades never bothered to attend the meetings, so 4 Gods voted in favor of Poseidon, and all the female Goddesses sided with their sister.

This was the major cause that triggered one of the most well-framed rivalries in Greek mythology. Poseidon detested Athena, and she became a thorn to him. His angst went as far as harassing her and any of her followers in any quests they set out on. An example is that of the story of Odyssey, where he thwarts Odysseus on his journey when Athena offers to support him.

This resulted in Poseidon conjuring a flood as punishment to the city for not choosing him over Athena. The Athenians then tried to pacify Poseidon. They made it illegal for women to participate in elections or vote. They removed the practice of men carrying on the names of their mothers. They also continued to honor both Athena and Poseidon in the Acropolis

The Walls of Troy

Poseidon was a violent character and often made impulsive decisions. It was said that Poseidon preferred to live in his palace of Corals and Gems underwater and not in Olympus because he could not put up with the attitude of his brother.

One such circumstance was when Poseidon was fed up with the influence of his brother Zeus and decided to Overthrow his brother with the help of Hera (Who hatched the entire scheme) and Athena. But Zeus being the all-powerful God and the crafty fox he was, managed to thwart this attempt.

As punishment for betraying him, Zeus sent Poseidon and Apollo to serve under the Trojan king, Laomedon. Here they built the vast walls of Troy, the famed beautiful and nigh impenetrable structures that they were. Once built, he demanded payment from the King (Who had promised his immortal horses to them in return), and when the king refused, Poseidon threatened him with dire consequences in the future for not obeying the wishes of the Gods.

So during the legendary Trojan war, Poseidon, even against the commands and wishes of his brother Zeus fought on the side of the Greeks and went as far as sending the dreaded monster Cetus to attack Troy. This monster was later felled by the famed Hercules.

Consorts/ LoversChildren 
MedusaPegasus and Chrysaor
DemeterDespoina and Arion
AethraThe hero Theseus
Amphitrite (His faithful wife)Triton, Rhode, and Benthesikyme

Other known children – Polyphemus, Otus, and Ephialtes

Amphitrite – She was the faithful wife of Poseidon. Although she wanted nothing to do with him in the beginning, going as far as to flee to Mount Atlas to flee the God, Poseidon continued to pursue her. He sent Delphinus to search for her, and he finally found her and married her.

As a mark of respect for delphines (Dolphins) for helping him in his time of need, he awarded Delphinus his own constellation, the Dolphin constellation, and immortalized him amongst the stars.

Medusa – He had appeared to the maiden Medusa in the form of a bird. Unfortunately, he chose his setting as that of a temple of Athena. Athena, enraged at this act, turned Medusa into the Gorgon. She was slain in this monstrous form by the hero Perseus, and when her neck was cut, she gave birth to her children Pegasus, the winged horse, and Chrysaor, the Giant.

Poseidon was known to be very protective of his children not only from those of Amphitrite but of all his consorts and lovers.

One famous example is that of Polyphemus, the cyclops, who was blinded by Odysseus during his voyage and incurred the wrath of Poseidon. The cyclopes had trapped Odysseus and his men, who were returning to Ithaca.

The cyclopes were eating the men one by one when Odysseus hatched a plan. He said that his name was ‘Nobody’ by giving the cyclopes some wine to drink. When the cyclopes went to sleep, he crushed his eye and made his escape with his men.

The cyclopes cried in pain and screamed that “Nobody” had blinded him, so the other cyclopes around there did not pay any heed to his yelling. But Odysseus rashly revealed his name to Polyphemus, which was his undoing. Polyphemus prayed to his father Poseidon to punish Odysseus, and Poseidon made sure that Odysseus would have the most perilous journey to return to his homeland. It took Odysseus 10 years after that to return to his homeland.

This is one of the examples which illustrates how vengeful Poseidon was if one of his children were to be harmed.

Also Read: Myths and Legends In Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Significance of Poseidon

Poseidon was regarded as a major Greek deity and held the respect of Seafolk. Sailors were said to offer sacrifices before a voyage, where records show they used to drown horses as a homage to Poseidon to provide safe passage.

He is also known as the originator and creator of Horses and is often depicted on Horseback.

He is known as the earthshaker because it was said that with one smash of his trident, he could move the earth and water, literally pointing to the fact that the shifting of the tectonic plates underwater happened due to the wrath of Poseidon. He was literally known as the God of earthquakes.

He was worshiped in the Acropolis of all the major seafaring cities of the Mycenaean period of Greek history, where the entire culture was heavily dependent on the sea for its survival. Hence any activity always was connected to either pleasing or displeasing Poseidon, and regular homage was paid to God to keep him content.

All in all, Poseidon is considered one of the 3 behemoths of Greek Mythology, alongside his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Although not being as powerful as his brother Zeus, he is held in the same regard as that his brother.

He is immortalized in Greek culture as a God who has a terrible and impulsive temper but equally cares for his children and his worshippers and does not abandon them at the time of their needs. He is depicted as ruthless to his opposers but as a fatherly figure to his worshippers.

A God who fought the titans alongside his brothers and imprisoned them in Tartarus: Poseidon signifies a change in the times of peril. And this change, as believed, is as turbulent as the period that preceded it. He was a God who could not be judged as to what might upset him and make the mortals incur his wrath. The wrath that even most of the Gods would not want to face.

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