Poseidon’s MDT – Day 3: Symbols & Attributes

Χαίρετε ἀναγνώστες!

Today I will discuss the various symbols and attributes of Poseidon.

Few Deities are so inextricably linked with a particular attribute as Poseidon with his trident. It is immediately recognisable and used in pretty much every depiction of the God. It was made for him by the primordial Kyklopes during the War with the Titans, as the Thunderbolt was made for Zeus and the Helmet of Darkness for Haides.


Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite, Poseidon is wearing a wild celery wreath. National Archaeological Museum Jatta, Ruvo di Puglia. Taken from Theoi.com on 3 August 2017.

Being a King in his own right, ruling over the Seas and Waters of the World, he is also shown wearing a headband or a wreath of wild celery (σέλινον). Wild celery is one of Poseidon’s sacred plants, as is the pine tree (πεύκη, Pinus halepensis and P. brutia). Poseidon had a son named Sinis, who was a bandit that waylaid travellers at the Isthmos of Korinthos. He bound his victims to the top of two pine trees and then released the trees, tearing the victims apart as the trees snapped back up.

Athenians claim Theseus killed Sinis in this same manner and afterwards instituted the Isthmian Games in honour of Poseidon Isthmios and to appease the angered spirit of Sinis. The victors at the Isthmian games were originally crowned with a wreath of pine branches, though later these were replaced with wreaths of wild celery, following the example of the Nemean Games. Sacred groves of pines dedicated to Poseidon existed in Korinthos and Onkhestos. I assume the original pine branch wreaths of the Isthmian Games were made with branches from the Korinthian grove, but I do not know this for certain.


Pinus halepensis in the Sounion National Forest, Sounion being a sacred place to Poseidon Sounios. Attribution: By C messier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. Taken from WikiMedia Commons on 3 August 2017.

Sacred animals are the hippokampoi, mythical beasts with the front of a horse, and the back of a fish, horses, and dolphins. Hippokampoi serve as mounts for Poseidon or draw his chariot. The incoming waves, raging wild, were likened to stampeding horses, and Poseidon is even credited with creating horses. For this, he is called Hippios “of Horses”. Dolphins are sea creatures, credited with saving sailors from drowning and bringing them ashore, thus firmly connecting them with Poseidon’s domain. I also believe I once read tuna were sacred to him, but don’t quote me on that.


Roman mosaic showing Poseidon in his chariot, drawn by Hippokampoi. Bardo National Museum, Tunis, Tunisia. Image taken from Theoi.com on 3 August 2017.

I believe that is about all.



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