This first post, as always, will be a basic introduction to Poseidon. We will dig into more specific topics over the course of this month. Let’s get started, shall we?
Poseidon is often counted as one of the Olympians in most variations of the list of who is numbered amongst the Twelve, and he definitely is in the “pan-Hellenic” dodekatheon that was settled on by philosophers. He is a Son of Kronos, who was swallowed by his father but released by Zeus. During the war of the Titans, the Kyklopes produced three items for the Sons of Kronos, with Poseidon receiving the Trident, his most recognisable attribute. After the defeat of Kronos, when his Sons drew lots as to who would rule what portion of the kosmos, Poseidon drew the seas and lakes.
Such is it that Poseidon became the Ruler of the Seas, living in an undersea palace with his wife and retinue, and hippokampoi as mounts, as shown in the picture above. Poseidon is a protector of sailors, but also a God who sends storms at sea and he can cause the sea to become wild and dangerous. Famously, he assaulted Odysseus’ ship in this manner, as Odysseus in a rare moment of folly had invoked Poseidon’s wrath by mutilating his son Polyphemos, the Kyklops (not one of the primordial ones, sons of Ouranos and Gaia).
He is a mighty God indeed, a Son of Kronos, Ruler of the Seas, and invoking his wrath is an extremely dangerous thing to do; although admittedly, this holds true for all Gods. Never give in to hybris. Anyways, besides being the Ruler of the Seas, Poseidon is also most famous for being the Earth-Shaker, the Gods of Earthquakes.
Most interesting is that fact that Poseidon’s name is well attested in Linear B tablets from the Bronze Age Mycenaean civilisation, a culture on mainland Hellas that spoke an early form of Hellenic. His name appears as PO-SE-DA-O-NE in the syllabic Linear B scripts, as is his epithet Ennosigaios “Earth-Shaker” in the form of E-NE-SI-DA-O-NE. This proves that his Khthonic associations go very far back indeed. Some scholars even suggest they predate his marine aspects. I will discuss this in more detail in the post on his names and epithets.
I think I have discussed pretty much all that is necessary for a basic introduction, so I’ll end this post here.