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Poseidon.jpg
Poseidon the Earthshaker rises from the sea.
Details
Gender Male
Cult center Corinth
Parents Kronos and Rhea
Siblings Hades, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Zeus
Consort(s) Amphitrite
Children Theseus, Triton, Polyphemus, Belus, Agenor, Neleus, Atlas and Bellorophon.
Symbols Trident, fishing nets, fish, dolphin, bull, horse and boats.
Roman equivalent Neptune
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Poseidon was the Greek deity of earthquakes, the seas and oceans, horses, and storms. He held sway over the seas and waters, and is particularly known for causing tempests and when he was happy he made clear skies for travelers or for his own gain. One of his cult titles, Enosichthon, means "earth shaker", referring to his role in causing earthquakes. His symbols are the trident, with which he raises the waves and causes tides, and the bull, which is as aggressive as him. He is also called the "tamer of horses", as he created the first horse from the crests of the waves. His Roman counterpart is Neptune.

Poseidon was the child of Kronos and Rhea, and brother to Zeus and Hades. According to some folklore, he was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which was devoured by Kronos.

Etymology[]

The earliest attested occurrence of the name, written in Linear B, is Po-se-da-o or Po-se-da-wo-ne, which correspond to Poseidaōn and Poseidawonos in Mycenean Greek; in Homeric Greek it appears as Ποσειδάων (Poseidaōn); in Aeolic as Ποτειδάων (Poteidaōn); and in Doric as Ποτειδάν (Poteidan), Ποτειδάων (Poteidaōn), and Ποτειδᾶς (Poteidas). A common epithet of Poseidon is Γαιήοχος Gaiēochos, "Earth-shaker," an epithet which is also identified in Linear B tablets.

The origins of the name "Poseidon" are unclear. One theory breaks it down into an element meaning "husband" or "lord" (Greek πόσις (posis), from PIE *pótis) and another element meaning "earth" (δᾶ (da), Doric for γῆ (gē)), producing something like lord or spouse of Da, i.e. of the earth; this would link him with Demeter, "Earth-mother." Walter Burkert finds that "the second element da- remains hopelessly ambiguous" and finds a "husband of Earth" reading "quite impossible to prove."

Another theory interprets the second element as related to the word *δᾶϝον dâwon, "water"; this would make *Posei-dawōn into the master of waters. There is also the possibility that the word has Pre-Greek origin. Plato in his dialogue Cratylus gives two alternative etymologies: either the sea restrained Poseidon when walking as a foot-bond (ποσί-δεσμον), or he knew many things (πολλά εἰδότος or πολλά εἰδῶν).

In mythology[]

Birth[]

Poseidon was the son of Kronos and Rhea. According to most versions, his father swallowed him at birth, and then he was rescued by Zeus along with the other elder Olympians. However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Kronos. He was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which she gave to Kronos to devour.

According to Tzetes, the nurse of Poseidon was Arne, who denied knowing where he was, when Kronos came searching; according to Diodorus Siculus, he was raised by the Telkhines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete.

According to a single reference in the Iliad, when the world was divided by lot in three, Zeus received the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea. In the Odyssey (v.398), Poseidon has a home in Aegae.

The patronship of Athens[]

Athena and Poseidon once competed to be the patron of the city of Athens. The people of Athens, (then called Attica) not wanting to offend either, could not choose. Then, they resorted to gifts. Poseidon gave Athens access to water, which, alas, was salty. Athena made the olive tree. Her gift was better, so Poseidon lost the contest.

The walls of Troy[]

Poseidon and Apollo, having offended Zeus by their rebellion in Hera's scheme, were temporarily stripped of their divine authority and sent to serve King Laomedon of Troy. He had them build huge walls around the city and promised to reward them well, a promise he then refused to fulfill. In vengeance, before the Trojan War, Poseidon sent a sea monster to attack Troy. The monster was later killed by Heracles.

Consorts and children[]

  1. Amphitrite
    1. Triton
    2. Benthesikyme
    3. Rhode (possibly)
  2. Aphrodite
    1. Rhode (possibly)
    2. Herophile the Sibyl (possibly)
  3. Demeter
    1. Despoina
    2. Arion, the talking horse
  4. Gaia
    1. Antaeus
    2. Charybdis
  5. Hestia (wooed her unsuccessfully)
  6. Aba, nymph
    1. Ergiscus
  7. Agamede
    1. Dictys
  8. Aethra
    1. Theseus
  9. Alistra
    1. Ogygus
  10. Alcyone
    1. Aethusa
    2. Hyrieus
    3. Hyperenor / Hyperes
    4. Anthas
  11. Alope
    1. Hippothoon
  12. Amphimedusa, Danaid
  13. Erythras
  14. Amymone
    1. Nauplius
  15. Arene
    1. Idas (possibly)
  16. Arne / Melanippe
    1. Aeolus
    2. Boeotus
  17. Arethusa
    1. Abas
  18. Ascre
    1. Oeoclus
  19. Astydameia, daughter of Phorbas
    1. Caucon
  20. Astypalaea
    1. Ancaeus
    2. Eurypylus of Kos
  21. Beroe (daughter of Aphrodite)
  22. Boudeia / Bouzyge
    1. Erginus
  23. Caenis
  24. Calchinia
    1. Peratus
  25. Canace
    1. Hopleus
    2. Nireus
    3. Aloeus
    4. Epopeus
    5. Triopas
  26. Celaeno (Pleiad or daughter of Ergeus)
    1. Lycus
    2. Nycteus
    3. Eurypylus (Eurytus) of Cyrene
    4. Lycaon
  27. Celaeno, Danaid
    1. Celaenus
  28. Cerebia
    1. Dictys
    2. Polydectes
  29. Ceroessa
    1. Byzas
  30. Cleodora
    1. Parnassus
  31. Khione
    1. Eumolpus
  32. Chrysogeneia
    1. Chryses, father of Minyas
  33. Corcyra, nymph
    1. Phaeax
  34. Coronis
  35. Diopatra, nymph of Mount Othrys
  36. Euryale, daughter of Minos
    1. Orion (possibly)
  37. Eurycyda
    1. Eleius
  38. Eurynome (Eurymede), daughter of Nisos
    1. Bellerophon
  39. Euryte / Bathycleia
    1. Halirrhothius
  40. Halia
    1. Rhode (possibly)
    2. six sons
  41. Harpale / Scamandrodice / Calyce
    1. Cycnus
  42. Helle
    1. Almops
    2. Edonus
    3. Paion
  43. Hermippe
    1. Minyas (possibly)
  44. Hippothoe
  45. Taphius
  46. Iphimedeia
    1. The Aloadae
  47. Laodice
  48. Larissa
    1. Achaeus
    2. Pelasgus
    3. Pythius
  49. Leis, daughter of Orus
    1. Altephus
  50. Libya
    1. Agenor
    2. Belus
    3. Lelex
  51. Lysianassa / Anippe
    1. Busiris
  52. Mecionice / Europa, daughter of Tityos
    1. Euphemus, Argonaut
  53. Medusa
    1. Pegasus
    2. Chrysaor
  54. Melantheia, daughter of Alpheus
    1. Irene
  55. Melantho (daughter of Deucalion)
    1. Delphus
  56. Melia
    1. Amycus
    2. Mygdon
  57. Melissa, daughter of Epidamnus
    1. Dyrrhachius
  58. Mestra
  59. Mideia
    1. Aspledon
  60. Molione
  61. The Molionides
  62. Mytilene
    1. Myton
  63. Oenope
    1. Megareus of Onchestus (possibly)
  64. Olbia, nymph
    1. Astacus
  65. Ossa
    1. Sithon (possibly)
  66. Peirene
    1. Cenchrias
    2. Leches
  67. Periboea
    1. Nausithous
  68. Pero, nymph / Kelousa, nymph
    1. Asopus (possibly)
  69. Pitane, nymph / Lena
    1. Euadne
  70. Phoenice
    1. Torone
  71. Pronoe, daughter of Asopus
    1. Phocus
  72. Rhode
    1. Ialysus
    2. Cameirus
    3. Lindus
  73. Rhodope, daughter of Strymon
    1. Athos
  74. Salamis, daughter of Asopus
    1. Cychreus
  75. Satyria, nymph of Taras
    1. Taras (eponym of the location)
  76. Syme
    1. Chthonius
  77. Themisto
    1. Leucon (possibly)
  78. Theophane
    1. The Ram of the Golden Fleece
  79. Thyia
  80. Tyro
    1. Pelias
    2. Neleus
  81. Thoosa
    1. Polyphemus
  82. Daughter of Amphictyon, unnamed
    1. Cercyon
  83. Nymph of Chios, unnamed
    1. Chios
  84. Nymph of Chios, unnamed (another one)
    1. Melas
    2. Agelus
  85. unknown consorts
    1. Amphimarus
    2. Amyrus, eponym of a river in Thessaly
    3. Astraeus and Alcippe of Mysia
    4. Calaurus
    5. Corynetes (possibly)
    6. Cymopoleia
    7. Cromus (eponym of Crommyon)
    8. Geren, eponym of a town or village Geren on Lesbos
    9. Dicaeus, eponym of Dicaea, a city in Thrace
    10. Euseirus (father of Cerambus)
    11. Ialebion (Alebion) and Dercynus (Bergion) of Liguria
    12. Laestrygon, eponym of the Laestrygonians
    13. Lamus, king of the Laestrygonians
    14. Lilaea (possibly)
    15. Messapus
    16. Onchestus
    17. Ourea
    18. Palaestinus
    19. Phorbas of Acarnania
    20. Poltys
    21. Procrustes
    22. Proteus
    23. Sarpedon of Ainos
    24. Sciron
    25. Syleus
    26. Taenarus (possibly)

Imagery[]

Poseidon appears mostly as a mature man of sturdy build with black stubble, holding his trident. In Greek art, he is shown on a chariot drawn by a hippocampi, about to throw his trident.

Gallery[]

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