Poseidon – Greek God of the Sea

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Poseidon is the ancient Greek god of the seas. He was known as a protector of sailors as well as the patron of many different Greek cities and colonies. His ability to create earthquakes gained him the title of “Earth Shaker” by those who worshipped him. As one of the Twelve Olympians, Poseidon is featured heavily throughout Greek mythology and art. His powerful role as god of the sea meant he interacted directly with many Greek heroes as well as various other gods and goddesses.

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Last update was on: October 22, 2021 10:09 am

Poseidon’s Origins

Poseidon was one of the children of the Titans Uranus and Rhea, along with Demeter, Hades, Hestia, Hera and Chiron. Uranus was fearful of the fulfillment of a prophecy which stated that one of his children would overthrow him. To thwart destiny, Uranus swallowed all his children. However, his son Zeus conspired with Rhea and overthrew Cronus. He freed his siblings, including Poseidon, by having Cronus disgorge them.

After his father, Cronus, was defeated, the world was said to then be divided between Poseidon and his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Poseidon was given the seas to be his domain while Zeus received the sky and Hades the underworld.

Who is Poseidon?

Poseidon was a major god and as a result was worshipped in many cities. His more magnanimous side saw him creating new islands and calming the seas in order to aid sailors and fishermen.

When angered, however, he was believed to cause floods, earthquakes, drownings, and shipwrecks as punishment. Poseidon could also cause certain disorders, specifically epilepsy. Poseidon’s association with the sea and sailing meant that sailors venerated him, frequently praying to him and sometimes even sacrificing horses to him by drowning them.

Amongst the peoples of the isolated island Arcadia, Poseidon usually appeared as a horse and the river spirit of the underworld. Arcadians believe that while in horse form, the stallion Poseidon pursued the goddess Demeter (who was also in horse form as a mare). Soon after, Demeter gave birth to the stallion Arion and mare Despoina. More widely, however, he is known as the tamer of horses or simply as their father.

The Children and Consorts of Poseidon

Poseidon was known to have had many lovers (both male and female) and even more children. While he fathered quite a few minor gods and goddesses as well as mythological creatures, he was also believed to have sired some heroes, such as Theseus. Here are some of the most significant consorts and children connected with Poseidon:

  • Amphitrite is a sea goddess as well as the wife of Poseidon. They had a son named Triton, who was a merman.
  • Theseus the mythical king and founder of Athens was thought to be a son of Poseidon.
  • Tyro was a mortal woman who fell in love with a river god named Enipeus. Although she attempted to be with him, Enipeus refused her. Poseidon, seeing an opportunity to bed the beautiful Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus. Tyro soon gave birth to the twin boys Pelias and Neleus.
  • Poseidon had an affair with Alope, his granddaughter, and through her fathered the hero Hippothoon. Horrified and angered by their affair, Alope’s father (and son of Poseidon) had her buried alive. In a moment of kindness, Poseidon turned Alope’s body into the spring, Alope, located near Eleusis.
  • The mortal Amymone was being pursued by a lecherous chthonic satyr who was attempting to rape her. Poseidon rescued her and together they had a child named Nauplius.
  • A woman named Caenis was abducted and raped by Poseidon. Afterwards, Poseidon offered to grant Caenis a single wish. Caenis, disgusted and distraught, wished that she could be changed into a man so that she couldn’t be violated again. Poseidon granted her wish in addition to giving her impenetrable skin. Caenis was thereafter known as Caeneus and went on to become a minor Greek hero.
  • Poseidon raped Medusa inside a temple dedicated to Athena. This angered Athena who punished Medusa by changing her into a monster. Upon being killed by the hero Perseus, two children emerged from Medusa’s body. These were Chrysaor, depicted as a young man, and the winged horse Pegasus—both sons of Poseidon.
  • Poseidon is also thought to have fathered the Cyclops Polyphemus as well as the giants Alebion, Bergion, Otos, and Ephialtae.
  • One of Poseidon’s male lovers was a minor sea deity, known as Nerites. Nerites was thought to be in love with Poseidon. Poseidon returned his love and their mutual affection was the origin of Anteros, the god of requited love. Poseidon made Nerites his charioteer and showered him with his attentions. Possibly out of jealousy, the sun god Helios turned Nerites into a shellfish.

Stories Involving Poseidon

Poseidon god of the sea

Many of the myths involving Poseidon reference his quick temper and easily offended nature. These stories also tend to involve Poseidon’s children or gifts.

  • Poseidon and Odysseus

During the Odyssey, the hero Odysseus comes upon one of Poseidon’s sons, the cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus is a one eyed, man-eating giant that captures and kills many of Odysseus’ crew. Odysseus tricks Polyphemus, ultimately blinding his single eye and escaping with the remainder of his men. Polyphemus prays to his father, Poseidon, asking for him to never allow Odysseus to arrive home. Poseidon hears his son’s prayer and thwarts Odysseus journey back to his home for almost twenty years, killing many of his men in the process.

  • Poseidon and Athena

Poseidon and Athena both competed to become the patron of Athens. It was agreed that both of them would give a gift to the Athenians and then the king, Cecrops, would choose the better one between them. Poseidon thrust his trident into the dry ground and a spring appeared. However, the water was salty and therefore undrinkable. Athena offered the Athenians an olive tree which could provide wood, oil, and food to the Athenian people. Cecrops chose Athena’s gift, and incensed from losing, Poseidon sent a flood to the Attic Plain as punishment.

  • King Minos and Poseidon

To justify his new position as King of Crete, the mortal Minos prayed to Poseidon for a sign. Poseidon sent a gigantic white bull, who walked out of the sea with the expectation that Minos would later sacrifice the bull. Minos became fond of the bull and instead sacrificed a different one, which angered Poseidon. In his rage, Poseidon cursed Mino’s wife, Pasiphaë, to love the white bull. Pasiphaë eventually gave birth to the famous monster, the Minotaur who was half man and half bull.

Symbols of Poseidon

Symbols of Poseidon
  • Poseidon rides a chariot pulled by a hippocampus, a mythical horse-like creature with fins for hooves.
  • He is associated with dolphins and allied with all creatures of the sea as that is his domain.
  • He uses a trident, which is a triple-pronged spear used for fishing.
  • Some other symbols of Poseidon include the horse and the bull.

Poseidon in Roman Mythology

Poseidon’s equivalent in Roman mythology is Neptune. Neptune is known as the god of freshwater as well as the sea. He’s also associated strongly with horses, even going so far as to be known as the patron of horse racing.

Poseidon in Modern Times

  • Poseidon is worshipped today as a part of modern Hellenic religion as the worship of Greek gods was recognized by the Greek government back in 2017.
  • The young adult book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan prominently features Poseidon. The main character, Percy, is the son of Poseidon. In the novels, Percy fights Greek monsters and frequently encounters other children of Poseidon, some of whom are evil.

Lessons from Poseidon’s Story

  • Lecherous and Lustful – Poseidon is frequently lascivious and driven by his need to possess others sexually. His thoughtless actions impact many of those around him, although rarely himself.
  • The Destroyer – Poseidon’s powers lean far more strongly towards destruction than they do towards creation. He is the god of earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. He takes out his anger and frustration on those who are often innocent of helpless to stop him.
  • Emotional Rollercoaster – Poseidon’s emotions run deep. He is a poor loser, and often displays uncontrollable rage. He can be either cruel or kind and seemingly change between the two on a dime. He often operates from based in emotions rather than logic.

Poseidon Facts

1- Who are Poseidon’s parents?

Poseidon’s parents are the Titans Cronus and Rhea.

2- Did Poseidon have children?

Yes, Poseidon had numerous children. Some of the most notable include Pegasus, Chrysaor, Theseus and Triton.

3- Who are Poseidon’s siblings?

Poseidon’s siblings include Hera, Demeter, Chiron, Zeus, Hestia and Hades.

4- Who were Poseidon’s consorts?

Poseidon’s consorts include Demeter, Aphrodite, Medusa and many others.

5- What is Poseidon the god over?

Poseidon is the god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses.

6- What were Poseidon’s powers?

Poseidon could control the sea, creating storms, manipulating tides, lightning and tsunamis. He could also make the earth quake.

7- Could Poseidon shapeshift?

Like Zeus, Poseidon could transform into other shapes. He often did this to have affairs with mortals.

In Brief

Poseidon’s impact on Greek mythology is enormous. As one of the Twelve Olympians as well as ruler of the seas, Poseidon interacts with other gods, monsters, and mortals alike. Frequently, he can be seen granting boons to heroes or, conversely, raining destruction upon them. He is a prominent figure in pop culture today, appearing in books and television, in addition to still being worshipped by modern day people.