Poseidon   poh SY duhn

Lord of the Sea

Poseidon is the son of Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia, brother of Zeus, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. He is one of the six original Olympians. His mission is to give voice to the earth. Poseidon was commonly called the Earth-Shaker and the Earth-Encircler in the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer. He pounds and shakes the earth and sea with his wrath and pleasure and answers to no one, except Zeus.

His kingdom is the vast sea which he has populated with creatures of his own design. He rides the waves in a chariot drawn by dolphins but, curiously enough, his most honored creation is the horse.

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Poseidon and Athene

One story tells of some very clever mortals who devised a competition between the divine Athene (Athena), daughter of Zeus, and Poseidon, brother of Zeus. The contest would be for the two Immortals to devise cunning gifts for the mortals, they in turn, promised to show eternal gratitude to the victor. Poseidon devised the horse and Athene created the olive tree. Athens was named after the contest winner but Poseidon’s gift of the horse literally changed the shape of the ancient Greek world.

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Poseidon and the Siege of Troy

As the Trojan War was entering it’s most bloody phase, Poseidon, against the strict orders of Zeus, entered the fray. He went through the ranks of the strong-grieved Akhaians (Akhaians) and urged them to have courage and to lust for victory over the Trojans, who seemed to be winning the war.

Zeus had been seduced by Hera and was lounging in the afterglow of love on Mount Ida when he heard Poseidon bellowing and screaming from the battlefield in the valley below. Zeus had warned the Immortals to stay away from Troy and now he could see that Hera had tricked him and Poseidon had disobeyed him. Zeus contained his anger and did not lash out at his brother. He sent Iris, the storm-footed messenger instead. She warned Poseidon off the battlefield and Poseidon quickly agreed to withdraw but he was defiant. He said he would leave because of his respect for Zeus but not because of fear.

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Poseidon and Odysseus

The rewards and punishments that Poseidon, and the other Olympians, visit on their friends and enemies are as fair or harsh as Zeus will permit. As an example: Odysseus blinded Poseidon’s son and received an epic punishment. Actually, if Odysseus had simply blinded Polyphemos he might have been forgiven, but Odysseus went too far, he added insult to injury. He, and his family, paid dearly for his transgression.

Polyphemos was a Cyclops, one of the ‘wheel-eyed’ giants who assisted Hephaistos (Hephaestus) at his forge. Polyphemos was the son of Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa. When Odysseus came to Polyphemos’ cave, he and his shipmates were shocked to find that Polyphemos was a man eater. Polyphemos thought he had the puny sailors trapped so he let his guard down. Odysseus relaxed Polyphemos with some potent wine and clever talk, then sprang upon the Cyclops with a burning spear. The monster was blinded as his eye was boiled in the socket. Odysseus made his escape but, in his pride, he turned and taunted Polyphemos with cruel insults. Poseidon would not forgive the indignity that Odysseus had visited upon his son and Zeus could not save Odysseus from Poseidon’s wrath. Poseidon caused Odysseus and his family constant misery but he did not kill the haggard wanderer, he just kept driving him away from his home and thus, his happiness.

On one occasion, (Odyssey, book 5, line 281) Poseidon found the resourceful Odysseus on a raft within sight of land. The sea and the wind rose at Poseidon’s command and with his trident, he staggered the sea and let loose the storm blasts against Odysseus and his tiny raft. Before the raft was smashed to splinters, a sea goddess, Leukothea, saw Odysseus and gave him her veil as protection from drowning but Odysseus was afraid that this was just another one of Poseidon’s tricks. He waited until the raft sank below the crashing waves before he accepted the goddesses help and began the three day swim to the foreign shore. Satisfied that harm but no death had befallen our cursed hero, Poseidon turned away from the long-suffering Odysseus and made his way to his palace.

Poseidon is most often confused with the Roman god, Neptune.

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Poseidon in The Iliad (listed by book and line)

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Poseidon in The Odyssey (listed by book and line)

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Stewart, Michael. "Poseidon", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/bios/poseidon.html (November 15, 2005)

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