Mythman's Poseidon


Alyana's Poseidon





Poseidon, sometimes spelled Posidon, is a major Olympian and the brother of Zeus and Hades. The revered god of the sea's domain is mainly the ocean and he features in many cool myths.

After Zeus defeated the Titans and dethroned Cronus, with the assistance of his brothers and sisters, the three brothers - Zeus, Poseidon and Hades - drew lots to see which of the three realms each would rule.

Zeus got the heavens and thus became supreme ruler, while Hades received the Underworld and Poseidon inherited the sea. The Earth and Mount Olympus belonged to all three.

The gods were fine with their choices, even though Poseidon always wanted more and once even conspired to dethrone his brother Zeus. More on that later.

Poseidon's fearsome weapon was the Trident, a three-pronged spear crafted by the inventive Cyclopes, who were liberated by the Olympians when the Titans were defeated. The Cyclopes also gave Zeus the Thunderbolts and Hades the Helmet of Invisibility in gratitude for being set free.

Even though Poseidon is adored for giving humans the first horse, his primary importance was as Lord of the Sea. Winds rose at his command and the most violent of storms would ensue, yet when he drove his golden chariot over the water, the storms would subside and calmness followed his wheels.

Poseidon is a very powerful and intimidating deity, second only to Zeus himself in influence. The early importance of Poseidon is evident in the ancient poet Homer's epic poem called the Odyssey, wherein Poseidon, rather than Zeus, is the major mover of events.

Even though Poseidon had a magnificent palace on the ocean floor made of coral and gems, still he spent a considerable amount of his time participating in the daily intrigues, and partying at Olympus, home of the ancient gods. He liked to stay in the loop, so to speak.

Titan Cronus had been warned by the oracles that one of his children would overthrow him, so he would swallow his babies as Rhea birthed them. It is said that when Poseidon was born his mother declared to Cronus that she had given birth to a horse, giving him a foal to swallow rather than the child. She concealed Poseidon among a flock of lambs to hide him from his father's evil reach.

Later she would pull the same stunt when Zeus was born, in his place giving Cronus a stone wrapped in baby clothes to swallow.

Other writers claim that Poseidon was swallowed by his father along with siblings Hestia, Hera, Hades and Demeter, and that Zeus alone escaped that horrible fate.

Poseidon's nurse while young was Arne, who was born as a foal because her mother had been transformed into a horse as a disguise. She was returned to human form and cared for the hidden god. Arne displayed great fortitude when, at great peril to herself, she denied knowing where Poseidon was when Cronus came looking him.

In images, Poseidon has been portrayed as an older man with a beard and long curly hair. His wife is the beautiful Amphitrite, granddaughter of the Titan Oceanus, who was the original god of the sea prior to Poseidon.

Poseidon once took part in a plot by the rest of the Olympians to overthrow their leader Zeus. Along with Hera, Athena and others, they stole Zeus' thunderbolts and rendered him immobile with chains. The Oceanid Thetis freed him with the assistance of the giant Hecatoncheire (one-hundred-handed) called Briareus, and needless to say, Zeus was not happy with his fellow gods.

As punishment, Zeus stripped the gods of their divinity and banished Poseidon and Apollo to earth, where they were tasked with fortifying the huge walls of mighty Troy. The two gods took the likeness of men and performed the task, but upon completion the Trojan King Laomedon refused to pay their wages. Bad move, King!

The enraged Apollo unleashed a pestilence upon the city, while Poseidon sent a sea monster to snatch away the people of the plain. The oracles foretold deliverance from these evils if King Laomedon would sacrifice his daughter called Hesione, to be devoured by the sea monster. The King exposed her by fastening Hesione to the rocks near the sea, but luckily the great hero Heracles (Hercules) happened to pass by and rescued the helpless maiden.

Once there was a dispute between Poseidon and Athena as to who had patronage of the lands and cities of the area called Troezen. Zeus intervened before things got too ugly and ordered them to hold the city in common, avoiding further conflict.

Things did not work out as well for Poseidon during another disagreement with Athena, this time over the region of Attica. Both the gods wanted patronage of the mighty city, so there was a competition to determine the winner. Poseidon struck a mighty blow with his Trident and a well of sea water sprung up near the Acropolis. Very impressive but not very practical.

Wise Athena planted an olive tree, her gift to the citizens. KIng Cecrops and the Olympians ruled that Athena's gift was more fitting (duh!) and thus she was granted patronage and the city was named Athens in honor of the great goddess.

Needless to say, Poseidon was livid. In retaliation he flooded Attica, causing great distress. Others claim that rather it was Zeus who adjudged Athens to Athena, and that Hermes expressly forbade Poseidon to flood the countryside.

In either case, at the shrine of Erechtheus in Athens, for a long time there remained preserved an olive tree and a pool of salt water as reminders of the epic judgment.

Poseidon set eyes on the Oceanid Amphitrite, daughter of Nereus and Doris, and wanted her as his wife. Distraught and unwilling, she ran away to Atlas, where she tried to hide from the god of the sea. Enamored Poseidon dispatched many to look for her, among them a man named Delphin.

After much searching and wandering, Delphin located Amphitrite and managed to persuade her to marry Poseidon, convincing her that the god's love was sincere. He delivered the beautiful maiden to Poseidon's palace and even took upon himself to organize a lavish wedding. In appreciation for his efforts, Poseidon placed the Dolphin among the constellations.

Poseidon could be generous, but he could also be vindictive, as witnessed by his flooding of Attica. A righteous man named Hierax chose to devote himself to the goddess Demeter rather than to Poseidon, so the sea god unleashed a terrible sea monster against the Teucrians, Hierax's folk.

Another time, vain Queen Cassiopea of Aetheopia boasted that she was better and more beautiful than the Nereids, who were underwater attendants to Poseidon and Amphitrite. The boasts really ticked off the Nereids, so they beseeched Poseidon to punish the Queen.

Poseidon sent a sea monster named Cetus, and a flood, to devastate the land. Oracles declared that this calamity would only end if Princess Andromeda, daughter to Cepheus and Cassiopea, was sacrificed to the sea monster. Luckily for Andromeda, the great hero Perseus, flying by on the winged horse Pegasus fresh from slaying Medusa, killed the sea monster, rescued the beautiful maiden and made her his wife.

Poseidon had a plethora of children with a variety of women, mortal and otherwise, including the famed hero Theseus. Not all his offspring were human, however - Poseidon once pursued the Olympian goddess Demeter, who spurned his advances, even turning herself into a mare so she could hide among a herd of horses.

Seeing through her ruse, Poseidon transformed into a stallion and was able to capture her. The result of their union was a horse named Arion, magically capable of human speech.

It was Poseidon who caused Medusa to turn into a hideous monster. Catching sight of the then-gorgeous maiden, Poseidon had his way with her, against her wishes, on the floor of the temple of Athena. As punishment Medusa was then changed by Athena into a monster with snakes for hair, whose mere glance would turn a man into stone.

Perhaps Athena should have punished Poseidon instead!

When the hero Perseus beheaded Medusa, Pegasus and Chrysaor emerged from her neck. The wondrous winged horse Pegasus played a role in countless myths, while brother Crysaor was depicted as a handsome young man, son of Poseidon and Medusa. It was said he became King of Iberia.

In Homer's Iliad, the epic myth about the Trojan War, Poseidon takes the side of the Greeks, on several occasions taking an active part in the battles against the Trojans. To be fair, he does rescue the Trojan named Aeneas, however, when the prince is wounded by the Greek warrior Achilles.

In Homer's Odyssey, Poseidon goes to great lengths to hinder Odysseus' efforts to get back home to Ithaca, because the hero blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. Poseidon's spite prevented the Trojan War hero's return to his wife Penelope for ten torturous years.

Poseidon was nearly always accompanied by another son, Triton, who was half man, half fish. Triton would blow on his seashell to announce mighty Poseidon's arrival.

Poseidon's golden chariot was pulled by a team of Hippocamp(us), which are seahorses, or horses that could ride on the sea.

Both the bull and the horse are associated with Poseidon, but the bull is linked with many other gods as well, so the horse can be considered his animal.

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