- Pronunciation: pos-EYE-don
- Origin: Greek
- Role: God
- Symbols: (Adoptive) Trident
- Wife: Amphitrite
- Siblings: Hades, Zeus
- Other Names: Neptune
Who Is Poseidon?
Poseidon was the god of the sea and protector of all aquatic animals and features. He was one of the more popular Greek gods, along with his brothers Hades and Zeus. He was widely worshiped by those who traveled through the rough ocean waters and become known as the lord of the sea. He has become known as the most disruptive of the Greek gods and constantly ruled in the opposite manner as Zeus.
Poseidon was the son of Kronos and Rhea. He was a key figure during the great battles for control of the universe between the Giants, Olympians and Titans. Upon their victory, Poseidon came into power. He lived in a magnificent mansion made of gold beneath he sea, decorated with sea flowers and coral. He constantly interfered with the rulings of Zeus. At one point, he joined with Hera and Athena in an attempt to overthrow Zeus. He was unsuccessful and punished by being forced to build the walls of Troy.
Legends and Stories
There are several legends involving Poseidon. Take a look at some of the favorites in Greek mythology.
Poseidon and the Dolphin
During a time of extreme loneliness and anger, Poseidon created several strong storms. They were so strong that the seas and heavens united. In order to remedy his emotions, Poseidon decided to find a wife. As he was searching, he came across a mermaid named Amphitrite. She was stunning, with long golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. Poseidon was immediately attracted to her, fell in love and proposed.
Amphitrite was the granddaughter of Oceanus and daughter of Nereus. Her keepers wanted to preserve her innocence and told Poseidon that she would not marry him because of his temper. But Poseidon was so infatuated with Amphitrite that he refused to give up. He sent Delphinus, the king of the dolphins, to find his love and convince her to marry the god.
The dolphin set out on a long journey, as Amphitrite had flown away to the Atlas Mountains to hide, but he eventually did find the mermaid. He promised her that if she were to marry the angry god, his energies and emotions would balance, leaving him tranquil and calm. The sea would never claim the life of a mortal again.
She agreed and married Poseidon. They had three children, two daughters named Rhode and Benthesicyme, and a merman named Triton.
Poseidon and Athena
Cecrops, the first king of Athens, needed to find a god to the city state of Athens. There were two Olympian gods who were interested in the position. One was Poseidon and the other Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill. Cecrops asked both to offer a gift to the city as part of the competition.
Poseidon gave his gift first. He created a well with his trident in an effort to provide the people with a never-ending supply of water. But the water was salty and not useful for drinking or watering crops.
Athena went next and planted an olive branch in a hole in the ground created by her spear. An olive tree would grow there, symbolizing peace and prosperity.
Cecrops was happy with Athena’s gift to the people of Athens and chose her to watch over the city. But because Poseidon had difficulty controlling his emotions, he let his defeat get the best of him. He cursed the city, saying that there would never be enough water for its people. To this day, water shortages in Athens are blamed on Poseidon.
After securing a victory of the Titans, Poseidon and his brothers Zeus and Hades decided to divide the different areas of the world between them. Zeus won the heavens and became the ruler of the Greek gods. Hades received the Underworld where he would rule over the souls of the deceased. Poseidon was given the rivers and oceans, becoming the lord of the seas. This made him very powerful among the Greek gods.
The three brothers kept Earth and Mount Olympus as communal areas.
Poseidon had many lovers and as a result, many children. In fact, some sources count at least 30 relationships between Poseidon and nymphs, goddesses and mortals. Some of his more famous lovers and children are as follows.
Amphitrite was Poseidon’s wife and the goddess of the sea. Together, they had several divine children, including Triton, Benthesikyme and Rhode.
Gaia was the goddess of the earth and a lover of Poseidon. Together, they had many children including Antaios and Kharybdis, both giants.
According to most sources, Aiolos was the son of Poseidon and Arne. He was the god of the winds and king of the Liparian Islands.
Lelex was the first king of southern Greece and the son of Poseidon and Libya.
Other offspring include Kyknos, Leukon, Megareus, Messapos and Lamia, though some sources dispute him fathering all of his dozens of children.
In most artistic representations of Poseidon, he is shown either nude or with a simple cloak draped around his body. In many pictures, he has been crowned with a wreath of wild celery and has a short but bushy beard. He appears strong, intimidating and confident. It is also easy to say how he had so many lovers, as he is always shown to be quite handsome.
He is usually portrayed riding his golden chariot pulled by unique creatures called hippocamps, which were half serpent and half-horse. He is also pictured with his trident, a gift from the Cyclopes that enabled him to create earthquakes just by striking the ground with it.
One of Poseidon’s main symbols is his trident, which he could use to make the entire earth shake. He would use his trident to cause earthquakes that could rattle any object. Another common symbol for the god is a boulder covered with sea creatures that he was often drawn or sculpted with.