Poseidon at a Glance
name | Poseidon (Poseidwn)
role | god of the sea and earthquakes
symbols | trident, horse, bull
Poseidon in Greek Mythology
Poseidon, as the god of the seas, held great power and significance for the ancient Greeks. He was a very popular god, and is consequently the subject of many myths. He appears in both the works of Homer
and of Hesiod as the brother of Zeus
, and therefore from the first generation of Olympians. And just as Zeus ruled the sky and wielded the deadly thunderbolt, Poseidon controlled, from his sea-domain, the devastating force of the earthquake. This ability to summon earthquakes earned Poseidon the epithet of "Earth Shaker", a name that is fairly common in Greek poetry and literature. But there is certainly more to this god than his relationship to the sea and earthquakes, which we will discover when we investigate the mythology of this Olympian lord.
The Wrath of Poseidon
Possibly because of the association between violent storms and the sea, Poseidon was often depicted in mythology as an angry, turbulent god. There are several myths in which the sea god reveals his terrible temper. For instance, Poseidon was relentless in his persecution of Odysseus after the hero blinded the god's son Polyphemus (details of this tale can be found in the Odyssey
, which is an epic poem by the Greek poet Homer
). In addition, Poseidon was so furious with King Laomedon when he was denied payment for building the walls of Troy that the vengeful god sent a sea-monster to destroy the countryside as punishment.
In addition to his reputation as a fighter, however, Poseidon was also a legendary lover. From his ill-fated affair with Medusa to his dalliance with the goddess Demeter, Poseidon proved that he could at times rival his notoriously promiscuous brother Zeus. Learn more about the lovers of Poseidon.
The god Poseidon was known as Neptune in Roman mythology.
Poseidon in Art History
Gallery | For pictures and information about Poseidon in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
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I begin to sing of Poseidon, the great god, mover of the earth and of the barren sea, the sea-god who is lord of Helicon and Aegae.
- Homeric Hymn to Poseidon
Who's Who in Classical Mythology
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters from Classical myth and legend. And there is a good entry on Poseidon.