Why is Poseidon the God of the Sea?

In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of the sea. He is unmistakable, holding his signature three-pronged trident, and known for his moody temperament. In this article we are going to answer the question: Why is Poseidon the god of the sea?

Poseidon became the god of the sea after drawings straws to divide the world between himself and his two brothers Zeus and Hades. Zeus became the god of the sky, Hades the god of the underworld, and Poseidon the god of the sea. They did this after defeating their father Cronus, the king of the Titans.

Statue of Poseidon, in San Andres island

Poseidon’s Origins, and the Overthrow of Cronus

In the beginning of Greek mythology Cronus was the king of the gods. He was the son of heaven and earth, and along with his wife Rhea, he had three sons and three daughters. He had been warned that eventually his children would rise up to overthrow him and because of this warning he would swallow whole his own children at birth, to try to prevent this from happening.

His wife Rhea tricked him when one of the sons were born, and instead of swallowing the son, he actually swallowed a stone. That son was Zeus, and when he grew up, along with the help of the goddess Metis, he fed Cronus an elixir which caused him to dispel Poseidon and the other offspring he had swallowed.

Then Zeus, Poseidon and Hades worked together and deposed their father Cronus and the other elder gods, imprisoning them in Tartaros, a deep abyss where souls are judged after death and punished.

Since Cronus was no longer king of the gods, the three brothers divided up the world between themselves. Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three.

Symbols of Poseidon

The main symbol of Poseidon is the trident, a three-pronged fishermen’s spear which he carries. During the war of the Titans, a group of three Cyclopes made it for him. It is a magical trident, and he can use it to shatter rocks, produce or subdue storms, and shake the earth causing earthquakes. As the god of earthquakes, in ancient Greece he was known as Ennosigaios (“earth-shaker”) and was worshipped as Asphalios (“stabilizer”).

Poseidon’s Sacred Animals: The Bull, the Horse, and the Dolphin

In Greek mythology, Poseidon created the horse as a gift to the mortals. According to historians, the horse was introduced to Greece in the 2nd century B.C by the Hellenes people, and Some theorize they introduced Poseidon to Greece as well.

According to Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis, the temple of Poseidon featured a massive statue of the god being pulled in a chariot by winged-horses, and accompanied by dolphins. In fact, Poseidon, along with Medusa, fathered Pegasus, the winged horse. He also had a special relationship with dolphins, who would act as messengers for him.

Poseidon’s association with the bull can be seen in the story of Minos, the king of Crete. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull as a sign that he would be the ruler instead of his brothers, who also coveted the throne. Poseidon sent Minos the bull with the understanding that it would be a sacrifice to the gods. However, Minos felt that the bull was too fine to be sacrificed, and replaced it with an inferior one, keeping the bull that Poseidon sent in his herd. Enraged, Poseidon exacted revenge by causing Mino’s wife to fall in love with the bull, who then gave birth to the Minotaur, a half-human, half-bull creature.

The Minotaur was created because of a curse made by Poseidon

Characteristics of Poseidon

Known as Neptune during Roman times, he is usually depicted as a mature, bearded man, often wearing a loose-fitting robe or cloak, with a headband or wreath of wild celery. As seen in the story with Minos, he can be very vengeful, and cruel, however he also has other sides to his personality.

Poseidon and his wife Cleito.

Poseidon is vengeful

Another example of Poseidon’s vengeful nature is displayed when a contest was held to see which god would hold dominion over an area of land called Attica. The gods decided that the land would be named after the god who produced the most useful gift to the mortals. This is when Poseidon produced the very first horse. However, he was refused the prize, and the land became Athens, after the goddess Athena created the olive tree. In retaliation Poseidon cursed the land with droughts.

In another example, Poseidon aided King Laomedon in building the walls of the city of Troy, but when the king refused payment, Poseidon sent a sea monster to wreak havoc on the city.

Poseidon is a Loyal Ally

In Homer’s Iliad, Poseidon supports the Greeks against the Trojans during the Trojan War. Also, when the affair between Ares and Aphrodite was discovered, Poseidon used his influence to have them set free from the magical net that they were caught in. And of course, it was through the cooperation with Zeus and Hades that they were able to overthrow Cronus.

Temple of Poseidon near Athens, Greece.

Poseidon is a Prolific Seducer

He had many lovers, including goddesses, nymphs, and mortals. Some of his lovers were Medusa, Tyro, Amymone, and Aithra. and Aphrodite. In part because of his seductive ways, Poseidon had many children, whom he is very protective of.

Poseidon is Protective of His Family

With Tyro, he was the father of Pelias and Neleus, whose descendants would go on to form the royal families of Thessaly and Messenia.

He also had some offspring in the form of monsters, such as Orion, Antaeus, and Polyphemus. Perhaps most well-known of these is Trident, whom he fathered with his wife Amphitrite. Trident also carries a trident, and has the upper body of a man and the lower body of a fish.

 An example of Poseidon being highly protective of his children can be found in the story of the Odyssey.  The Greek hero Odysseus is returning home to Ithaca from the Trojan war. After having their ship blown off course, Odysseus and his crew discover an island with meats and cheeses in a cave. After feasting, the owner of the cave returned home, trapped the men in the cave, and began eating them. Odysseus offered the cyclops wine to get him drunk, and then he and his men drove a huge wooden spike through his single eye and escaped. The cyclops was Polyphemus, one of the cyclops who built Olympus for the gods, and son of Poseidon. Poseidon responded by punishing Odysseus with storms, destroying his crew and ship, and causing a ten-year delay in his journey home.

Recommended Reading

If you’d like to continue researching Poseidon or any of the other topics discussed on this website, you can see which books I recommend by clicking here.

Everet Dee

Everet Dee is an author and researcher with a passion for metaphysics, philosophy, hidden history, the occult, the esoteric, and religion.

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