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Ancient Greece consisted of twelve Olympian gods and goddesses, who were considered the main deities. They used to reside on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. Among them was Zeus, the king of Gods. All the gods had specific powers and had many myths related to them.
In Greek mythology, Poseidon is one of the most powerful Greek Gods. Poseidon is the God of sea, earthquakes, and horses in the ancient Greek religion and was born to Cronus and Rhea. Given his great character and many adventures related to him, many myths about him exist.
2. Poseidon- the Greek God
Poseidon was the youngest of the 12 Titans, the grandson of Ouranos (the Heavens) and Gaia (the Earth), and the son of Cronus and Rhea. He was the brother of Zeus, the God of the sky and chief deity of ancient Greeks, and his other brother was Hades, the god of the underworld. He was married to Amphitrite, the marine goddess. His main weapon and symbol was a trident, a three-pronged fishing spear. He had a beard and curly hair.
Like the thunderbolt of Zeus and the helmet of Hades, Poseidon’s trident was fashioned by the three Cyclopes. Poseidon used to wear a robe and a cloak which was draped over his arm. Sometimes, he used to wear just a cloak draped over his arms. He used to wear a headband or a wreath made from wild celery. As Poseidon was the God of horses, it is said that he was introduced to Greece by the earliest Hellenes, who also introduced the very first horse to the country in the 2nd century BCE.
In addition, he has fathered many horses, one of which is the best known, the winged horse Pegasus by the Gorgon Medusa. The family of Poseidon was immense as he had many offspring such as Theseus, Rhodos, Polyphemus, Bellerophontes, Antaios and another magical horse, Arion.
3. Myths about the sea God
In Greek mythology and the ancient Greek world, the Gods and Goddesses have tales that inspire. God Poseidon also has many such tales and is one of the prominent figures. Hence, there were many Greek myths related to him. The stories are filled with kindness and wrath. Many Poseidon myths are a mix of strength and emotions in ancient Greece. Because of Poseidon’s character, the ancient Greeks considered him a big deal and these Greek legends have shaped people’s way of thinking about the powerful forces and deep emotions.
3.1 Myth 1: The Battle of Athens
The battle of Athens, also known as the Attic War, was held between the two powerful Gods: the sea god- Poseidon and the goddess of wisdom- Athena. They fought to become the protector of the city of Athens. To resolve this dispute, the king of Gods, Zeus, decided to hold a contest for the citizens to choose between these two deities.
It is said that Poseidon, the god of the sea, used this advantage and created a saltwater source using his weapon- the trident. However, his gift was not successful for the people of Athens as it could affect their crops and result in a flood. The goddess of wisdom, Athena, offered an olive tree which would provide the citizens of Athens with food, wood and oil. The olive tree was also a symbol of prosperity and peace.
As the gift of the Greek God Athena was more helpful, she got one more vote. But the voters were divided between the two Gods. Subsequently, Athena was chosen and was made the protector of Athens, and later, she established an ancient town centre in Athens- the Acropolis, which still stands today. This myth highlights the Gods’ characteristics and how it benefit the citizens.
3.2 Myth 2: Wrath of the Sea
According to the Greek legends, there is another myth, an example of Poseidon’s wrath. His fury often came out in the form of storms and dangerous sea creatures. This fury was such that anyone who dared to defy him had to face tremendous consequences. The Greek poet Homer writes that Poseidon punishes the hero Odysseus and delays his return home because of his actions as he blinded his son Polyphemus and sent a series of massive storms and obstacles. Due to this dangerous obstacle, he lost his ship and men.
Other myths about his wrath said that in the Trojan War, he sent a sea monster to horrify the people of Troy as the king refused to pay him and Apollo for their work in building the city walls. These myths of ancient Greece highlight the vengeful nature of Poseidon and the use of his trident and powers for vengeance.
3.3 Myth 3: Creation of horses
As per the ancient Greeks, the Greek God Poseidon, the horse God, earth-shaker and god of the sea, created several horses. One myth says that Poseidon pursued the goddess of agriculture, Demeter, while she was searching for her daughter Persephone. To get rid of him, Demeter transformed herself into a mare. Poseidon then transformed himself into a stallion and mater with Demeter. This resulted in the birth of the horse Arion.
One of the many Greek myths was that Poseidon seduced the beautiful maiden Medusa in the temple of Athena. This resulted in Athena’s rage, and to punish Poseidon, Athena changed her into a dreadful and hideous monster with a head full of snakes, and her gaze would turn any man into a stone. Later, the Greek hero Perseus was asked to get Medusa’s head as a gift for the king. Perseus successfully beheaded her, and a winged horse, Pegasus, came out of her neck.
Another myth says that Poseidon created the first horse by striking a rock with his horse. The rock, thus, split open, and the first horse, Skyphios, emerged. It is said that Poseidon had many horse offspring; two of them – Balius and Xanthus- were immortal.
3.4 Myth 4: A love story!
One myth of Poseidon is about his love story with Amphitrite, the sea nymph. Poseidon fell in love with Amphitrite. He asked for her hand in marriage, but she refused Poseidon’s offer. She fled to the Atlas Mountains to avoid him, but he sent a dolphin to retrieve her. The dolphin convinced her and changed her mind; hence, she decided to come back and marry Poseidon, who lived in a golden palace beneath the sea. As a reward, Poseidon made a constellation of the dolphin.
Amphitrite was often called the sea goddess and one of the 50 beautiful nymphs. She was the daughter of Doris and Nereus. Her appearance came in the ancient works of art- Aphrodite and was identified by a crab claw on her forehead, sometimes seen as a helmet, and by a golden net she wore in her hair. She and Poseidon had several offspring. One of them was Triton, a merman who was depicted as the messenger of the sea. In classical Greece and its art and literature, she was depicted as a beautiful goddess riding in a chariot drawn by sea creatures.
This story personifies the two natures of the horse God Poseidon- gentle and fierce. This union harmonizes the relations between the sea and its creatures and showcases the importance of sea nymphs in building this relationship. This story plays a significant part in the Greek mythology.
3.5 Myth 5: Swallowed by father
One myth in Greek mythology says that at birth, Poseidon was swallowed by his father, Cronus, just like his two brothers, as Cronus feared that his children would take over his throne. Another myth says that when Zeus grew older, he saved his brothers from his father. Zeus took the help of the goddess Metis (also the wife of Zeus), who fed Cronus a magical elixir. This caused him to vomit Poseidon and all the other children he swallowed. In the Greek mythology, this myth signifies the struggle of the Olympian Gods. It also states the importance of Zeus as he rescued his siblings.
These myths of the Greek God Poseidon tell about the attributes Poseidon had. He used his power for vengeance, dominance and love. He was among the most powerful Olympian gods and could shape the seascape and landscape. He was feared by many in the ancient times. These myths now also prevail in Greece and are a huge part of the ancient tales of Greece.