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The Greek god of the sea and of everything liquid, son of Cronus and Rhea; a younger brother of Zeus, according to Homer; an elder brother, according to Hesiod. At the distribution of the world the rule over the sea and all its gods and creatures fell to him, as the rule over the sky fell to Zeus, and that over the underworld to Pluto. His wife is Amphitrite, his son Triton, his daughter Benthesikyme. As described by Homer [IL. xiii 21], he has his dwelling in the depth of the sea in a golden palace near Aegae, according to the usual acceptation on the north coast of the Peloponnesus, where lay also his other place of worship mentioned by Homer, Helice [IL. viii 203], afterwards overthrown by an earthquake. On leaving his palace, he is clad in a golden robe and wields in his hand a golden whip, while he stands in a chariot drawn by swift-footed steeds with hoofs of bronze and manes of gold, with the monsters of the deep bounding and frisking around him, as he drives over the sea, which joyfully opens before his advance. As Zeus bears the lightning, so Poseidon bears the mighty trident, with which he stirs up the sea, cleaves rocks, and makes fountains and horses spring forth from them. Another symbol of the stormy flood is the bull, for which reason men offered sacrifice to Poseidon with dark-coloured bulls, while oil the other hand, the dolphin is a symbol of the peaceful and calm sea. For, while lie sends storm and shipwreck, he is also a beneficent god, who sends favourable, winds. Every occupation on or by the sea, navigation, trade, fishing, is subject to his power; he also it is who grants victory by sea. Seafaring peoples traced their origin to him. But, as the sea was thought of as supporting the earth and as pressing into its hidden clefts and hollows, so Poseidon was worshipped from one point of view as "the supporter of the earth" (gaieochos), from the other as "the shaker of the earth" (ennosigaios, enosithom), who makes the earth quake beneath the blows of his trident. As such he was worshipped in districts which were a prey to earthquakes, as in Sparta, or in those which could show traces of great convulsions, as in Thessaly, where he was said to have opened up the Vale of Tempe, and formed the outlet of the Peneus into the sea by shattering the wall of rock which inclosed the valley. In the interior Poseidon was often worshipped as tile creator of waters, especially of springs and the blessing brought by them; so particularly in Argolis and Arcadia, where, as being the fertilizing god, he was even regarded as the lover of Demeter and father of Persephone. In the course of time, under the predominance of the conception of Poseidon as god of the sea, his worsbip in such inland places fell into the background, and was displaced by that of other deities. Hence arose the legends of his contests with other gods for particular countries, as with Athene for Athens and Troezen, and with Hera for Argolis, and of exchanges, as that of Delphi for the island of Calauria, which belonged to Apollo. He was also regarded as the creator and tamer of the horse: sometimes he was said to have brought it out of a rock by a blow, sometimes the earth was said to have been impregnated by him, and so given it birth; accordingly he was frequently worshipped as an equestrian god (hippios). Thus in the Attic deme of Colonus he was worshipped together with Athene, who was said to have invented the bridle. He was also specially worshipped at the equestrian games at the Isthmus. Owing to the great diffusion of his worship through all the Greek races of the mother-country, as well as of the colonies, he plays a chief part in Greek legend, appearing as early as the Trojan story, in which he stands on the side of the Greeks in irreconcilable wrath against Troy, on account of the deception practised on him by Laomedon. Similarly Odysseus cannot be protected from his rage on account of the blinding of his son Polyphemus, except by the unanimous will of the other gods. The unruly wildness of the sea, which is reflected in his character, appears also frequently in his sons, such as Orion, Polyphemus, Cycnus, Antaens, Busiris, Amycus, Cercyon, and others. But he was also deemed to be the ancestor of numerous noble families, especially of the Ionian race, which from old times worshipped him as a national god, and from their home on the north coast of the Peloponnesus carried his worship over with them to Asia. Here, in his chief sanctuary, on the promontory of Mycale, the Ionians celebrated their national festival, the Panionia. From the Ionian race and its representative, Theseus, arose also the national festival of Poseidon observed by all Greece at the Corinthian Isthmus, where the Isthmian games were celebrated in alternate years. The Greeks, after their victory over the Persians, set up a bronze colossus more than 10 ½ feet high in honour of the Isthmian god [Herod., ix 81]. The horse, the dolphin, and the pine tree were deemed sacred to Poseidon; it was with wreaths of pine that the victors in the Isthmian games were crowned. He was worshipped with human sacrifices, but more generally with sacrifices of horses and bulls, especially black ones; these were not unfrequently hurled alive into rivers. Besides horse-races, bull-fights were held in his honour. His temples were usually to be found on promontories, isthmuses, and tongues of land. His usual attributes were the trident and the dolphin, and also the tunny-fish. He was represented as a powerful, kingly man, like Zeus, but without his exalted calm, more compact in figure, and with thicker and curlier bair on his head. He is draped sometimes in a long robe, sometimes with a light scarf, which allows his powerful frame to be more fully displayed (see cut). Colossal statues of him often stood by harbours and on promontories. With Poseidon the Romans identified their sea-god Neptunus (q.v.).

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