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Poseidon (/psadn, p-, po-/;[1] Greek: , pronounced [poseed n]) was one of

the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was god of the Sea and other waters;
of earthquakes; and of horses.[2] In pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, he was venerated as a chief
deity at Pylos and Thebes.[2]
Poseidon was protector of seafarers, and of many Hellenic cities and colonies. In Homer's Iliad,
Poseidon supports the Greeks against the Trojans during the Trojan War. In the Odyssey, during the
sea-voyage from Troy back home to Ithaca, the Greek hero Odysseus provokes Poseidon's fury by
blinding his son the Cyclops Polyphemus, resulting in Poseidon punishing him with storms, the
complete loss of his ship and companions, and a ten-year delay. Poseidon is also the subject of
a Homeric hymn. In Plato's Timaeus and Critias, the island of Atlantis was Poseidon's
domain.[3][4][5] His Roman equivalent is Neptune.

Contents
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1Etymology
2Bronze Age Greece
o 2.1Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscriptions
o 2.2Arcadian myths
3Origins
4Worship of Poseidon
o 4.1Epithets
5Mythology
o 5.1Birth
o 5.2Foundation of Athens
o 5.3Walls of Troy
o 5.4Consorts and children
o 5.5List of Poseidon's consorts and children
5.5.1Female lovers and offspring
5.5.2Male lovers
6Genealogy
7In literature and art
o 7.1Narrations
o 7.2Gallery
8See also
9Notes
10References
11External links

Etymology
The earliest attested occurrence of the name, written in Linear B, is Po-se-da-
o or Po-se-da-wo-ne, which correspond to (Poseidan)
and (Poseidawonos) in Mycenean Greek; in Homeric Greek it appears
as (Poseidan); in Aeolic as (Poteidan); and
in Doric as (Poteidan), (Poteidan), and (Poteidas).[6] The
form (Poteidawon) appears in Corinth.[7] A common epithet of Poseidon
is Enosichthon, "Earth-shaker", an epithet which is also identified in Linear B,
as , E-ne-si-da-o-ne,[8] This recalls his later epithets Ennosidas and Ennosigaios indicating
the chthonic nature of Poseidon.[9]
The origins of the name "Poseidon" are unclear. One theory breaks it down into an element meaning
"husband" or "lord" (Greek (posis), from PIE *ptis) and another element meaning "earth"
( (da), Doric for (g)), producing something like lord or spouse of Da, i.e. of the earth; this
would link him with Demeter, "Earth-mother".[10] Walter Burkert finds that "the second
element da- remains hopelessly ambiguous" and finds a "husband of Earth" reading "quite
impossible to prove".[2]
Another theory interprets the second element as related to the word * dwon, "water"; this
would make *Posei-dawn into the master of waters.[11] There is also the possibility that the word
has Pre-Greek origin.[12] Plato in his dialogue Cratylus gives two alternative etymologies: either the
sea restrained Poseidon when walking as a "foot-bond" (), or he "knew many things"
( or ).[13]

Bronze Age Greece

Poseidon, Paella Museum

Poseidon in Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn

Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscriptions


If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the name po-se-da-wo-ne ("Poseidon") occurs with
greater frequency than does di-u-ja ("Zeus"). A feminine variant, po-se-de-ia, is also found, indicating
a lost consort goddess, in effect the precursor of Amphitrite. Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-
na-ka (wanax) in Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld. The chthonic nature of Poseidon-
Wanax is also indicated by his title E-ne-si-da-o-ne in Mycenean Knossos and Pylos,[8] a powerful
attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture). In the cave
of Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related with the cult of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth.[14] She
was related with the annual birth of the divine child.[15] During the Bronze Age, a goddess of nature,
dominated both in Minoan and Mycenean cult, and Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion
(paredros) in Mycenean cult.[16] It is possible that Demeter appears as Da-ma-te in a Linear B
inscription (PN EN 609), however the interpretetion is still under dispute.[17]
In Linear B inscriptions found at Pylos, E-ne-si-da-o-ne is related with Poseidon, and Si-to Po-tini-
ja is probably related with Demeter.[18] Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for "the
Two Queens and Poseidon" ("to the Two Queens and the King": wa-na-soi, wa-na-ka-te). The "Two
Queens" may be related with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were
not associated with Poseidon in later periods.[19]

Arcadian myths
The illuminating exception is the archaic and localised myth of the stallion Poseidon and mare
Demeter at Phigalia in isolated and conservative Arcadia, noted by Pausanias (2nd century AD) as
having fallen into desuetude; The stallion Poseidon pursues the mare-Demeter, and from the union
she bears the horse Arion, and a daughter (Despoina), who obviously had the shape of a mare too.
The violated Demeter was Demeter Erinys (furious) .[20] In Arcadia, Demeter's mare-form was
worshiped into historical times. Her xoanon of Phigaleia shows how the local cult interpreted her, as
goddess of nature. A Medusa type with a horse's head with snaky hair, holding a dove and a
dolphin, probably representing her power over air and water.[21]

Origins

Poseidon and Athena battle for control of Athens by Benvenuto Tisi(1512)


It seems that the Arcadian myth is related with the first Greek speaking people who entered the
region during the Bronze Age. (Linear B represents an archaic Greek dialect). Their religious beliefs
were mixed with the beliefs of the indigenous population. It is possible that the Greeks did not bring
with them other gods except Zeus, Eos, and the Dioskouroi. The horse (numina) was related with
the liquid element, and with the underworld. Poseidon appears as a beast (horse), which is the river
spirit of the underworld, as it usually happens in northern-European folklore, and not unusually in
Greece.[22][23] Poseidon Wanax , is the male companion (paredros) of the goddess of nature. In the
relative Minoan myth, Pasipha is mating with the white bull, and she bears the hybrid
creature Minotaur.[24]The Bull was the old pre-Olympian Poseidon.[25] The goddess of nature and her
paredros survived in the Eleusinian cult, where the following words were uttered : " Mighty Potnia
bore a strong son"[26]
In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, there is not sufficient evidence that Poseidon was
connected with the sea. We do not know if "Posedeia" was a sea-
goddess. Homer and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of
his father Kronos, when the world was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky,
Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all
three.[2][27] Given Poseidon's connection with horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation
of the likely Indo-European homeland, Nobuo Komita has proposed that Poseidon was originally an
aristocratic Indo-European horse-god who was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities
when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to the sea, or a god of fresh waters who
was assigned a secondary role as god of the sea, where he overwhelmed the original Aegean sea
deities such as Proteus and Nereus.[28] Conversely, Walter Burkert suggests that the Hellene cult
worship of Poseidon as a horse god may be connected to the introduction of the horse and war-
chariot from Anatolia to Greece around 1600 BC.[2]
It is almost sure that once Poseidon was worshiped as a horse, and this is evident by his cult
in Peloponnesos. However he was originally a god of the waters, and therefore he became the
"earth-shaker", because the Greeks believed that the cause of the earthquakes was the erosion of
the rocks by the waters, by the rivers who they saw to disappear into the earth and then to burst out
again. This is what the natural philosophers Thales, Anaximenes and Aristotle believed, which could
not be different from the folklore belief.[29] Later, when the Myceneans travelled along the sea, he was
assigned a role as god of the sea.
In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer's Odyssey, where
Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events. In Homer Poseidon is the master of the
sea.

Worship of Poseidon
Poseidon holding a trident. Corinthian plaque, 550-525 BC. From Penteskouphia.

Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in
importance, while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis.[2]
In his benign aspect, Poseidon was seen as creating new islands and offering calm seas. When
offended or ignored, he supposedly struck the ground with his tridentand
caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings and shipwrecks. Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a
safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice;[citation needed] in this way, according to a
fragmentary papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian seashore before the climactic battle
of Issus, and resorted to prayers, "invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for whom he ordered a four-horse
chariot to be cast into the waves."[30]
According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the oracle at Delphi before
Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization,
for example, Delphic Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle, while Poseidon watched
over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-
sacrifice. Xenophon's Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers in 400399 BC singing to
Poseidon a paeana kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo.
Like Dionysus, who inflamed the maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental
disturbance. A Hippocratic text of ca 400 BC, On the Sacred Disease[31]says that he was blamed for
certain types of epilepsy.

Epithets
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Poseidon was known in various guises, denoted by epithets. In the town of Aegae in Euboea, he
was known as Poseidon Aegaeus and had a magnificent temple upon a hill.[32][33][34] Poseidon also
had a close association with horses, known under the epithet Poseidon Hippios, usually in Arcadia.
He is mor