Poseidon


Poseidon: the sea god

The power of Poseidon

Poseidon is Zeus’ older brother and was given control of the seas and oceans when the gods defeated the Titans.

The sea was very important to the Greeks for transport and trade, and so Poseidon was widely worshipped. He is able to wreck ships with storms, destroy coastal settlements with earthquakes, and can cause saltwater springs to gush from the ground with a strike of his trident.

Poseidon’s wife was the sea goddess, Amphitrite. However, like his younger brother Zeus, he had many affairs with gods and humans. His offspring include Polyphemus the Cyclops and Theseus.

Poseidon in myth

Poseidon helped to build the famous walls of Troy for King Laomedon, but he was never rewarded. Therefore he sided with the Greeks during the Trojan War, according to Homer’s Iliad.

In the Odyssey he harasses the Greek hero Odysseus on his voyage home from the war, after Odysseus blinded his son, Polyphemus the Cyclops. Poseidon also competed with Athena to name the city which became known as Athens after he lost.

Responsibilities

  • Lord of the sea: Poseidon was given power over the seas by Zeus. Sea journeys were especially dangerous in ancient times, and so Poseidon would have to be honoured to ensure a safe voyage.
  • Earthquakes: It may seem odd that the sea god controlled earthquakes, but most earthquakes start at sea. This responsibility also reminds us of Poseidon’s awesome power.
  • Horses: Another seemingly irrational power for a sea god. However, the Greeks thought the breaking waves were like a team of horses galloping to shore (even today these are known as “white horses”).

Poseidon iconography

Trident, fishes, waves, horses.