Poseidon was one of the most important Gods from Greek mythology, controlling the sea and earthquakes. Like many Gods Poseidon was worshipped but also slightly feared.
The Greek God Poseidon
Classed as one of the ‘big three’ Greek Gods (the other two being Zeus and Hades), Poseidon plays an important role in Greek mythology. Today, we mainly know him as the God of the Sea and also earthquakes, but his origins are thought to be slightly more complex than that.
Originally, Poseidon may have been a Horse God, and indeed some cults particularly in the Peloponnese worshipped Poseidon in that form. Many Greek myths connect Poseidon with horses, and Pegasus, the most famous mythological horse creature was said to have been fathered by Poseidon.
Over time, he became more strongly associated with the sea, with Homer’s Odyssey perhaps cementing our vision of the Greek God Poseidon – Strong, temperamental, carrying a trident, and with the ability to summon storms at sea and cause earthquakes.
Poseidon in Greek Mythology
In addition to the story behind how the Greek Gods replaced the Titans, Poseidon features in many famous Greek myths and legends. One, concerns the foundation of Athens, and which God should become the city’s patron and protector.
Although Poseidon lost this competition against Athena to name the city of Athens, he remained the second most important deity worshipped in Athens. He was also the most prominent deity worshipped in Corinth and many other cities in Greece.
Poseidon and Odysseus
In Greek mythology, the Gods often held grudges against men. The most famous of these is Hera tormenting Herakles throughout his life, but perhaps the second best known is Poseidon’s grudge against Odysseus.
We learn of this grudge through Homer’s two great works the Iliad and the Odyssey. Although we are never certain exactly why Poseidon has taken a disliking to Odysseus, in a way it doesn’t matter. What results is another example of a temperamental Greek God lashing out at mortal man when they don’t get things their own way!
In a similar way to Herakles, Odysseus must go through a ‘heroes journey’ to return to his island of Ithaca after the Trojan War. Although both the Iliad and Odyssey can be tough reading at times, we’d highly recommend putting them on a list of books to read next!
Powers, Weapons and Attributes
Poseidon’s most well known symbol was the trident. This three-pronged spear was used as both a weapon but also a way to channel Poseidon’s power. As such, it could be used by the God as a weapon, but also a tool.
On many occasions, Poseidon uses the trident to create springs of water by touching it to the ground. In the myth of how Athens was named, this spring water was actually salt water, but on other occasions, it would be sweet drinking water.
The Ancient Greeks also believed that Poseidon used the trident to create earthquakes, split rocks, and one myth even states that he anchored the island of Delos to the seabed with the trident.
The origins of the trident are complex, but it is generally thought that the symbol was derived by a type of fishing spear used to catch eels.
The Children of Poseidon
Like his brother Zeus, Poseidon was said to have had many lovers, which resulted in countless children. Some of these children and their heirs grew up to become famous heroes such as Theseus and Bellerophon. Other descendants turned into what can only kindly be described as rather unsavoury characters!
An interesting note – Younger readers of the Percy Jackson books may know that Percy is a fun modern version of the name Perseus. In Greek Mythology, however, Perseus was in fact the sun of Zeus and not of Poseidon.
Poseidon in the Percy Jackson books
Poseidon plays a central role in the Percy Jackson books, in that he is Percy Jackson’s father. Greek Gods were often portrayed as rather distant parents to their human offspring, and this also carried over to the Percy Jackson books.
Poseidon helps Percy Jackson when he can, almost as if pointing him in the right direction, but then letting Percy get on with the matter at hand.
It’s quite evident from the books that Percy Jackson is Poseidon’s favourite son, but given that his other offspring are mainly monsters and nasty creatures, it’s hardly surprising!
Famous Temples in Greece connected with Poseidon
The most famous temple in Greece connected with the God Poseidon, is the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. This temple is most popularly visited as a day trip from Athens in the afternoon/evening. This way, it is possible to combine exploring the Temple of Poseidon as well as experiencing the sunset there.
Find out more here about our Percy Jackson tour to the Temple of Poseidon from Athens.