Poseidon’s MDT – Day 5: Family & Genealogy

Χαίρετε ἀναγνώστες!

Today I will speak of the family connections of Poseidon. Since Poseidon has so many – in terms of the number of extramarital offspring he even out does Zeus! – I will focus on the immediate family and the main familial connections.

Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Haides, one of the three Sons of Kronos, and his sisters are Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. Together with his sisters and brother Haides he was swallowed by Kronos (though other myths mention Rhea rescued him in a manner similar to that of Zeus, more on that in future posts) and freed when Zeus forced his father to regurgitate the offspring he devoured. Together they then waged war against their father Kronos and the Titans, finally being victorious. As one of the Kronides, Poseidon is also a grandson of Ouranos (Sky) and Gaia (Earth).

Another very close family member is, of course, his wife: the Nereïd Amphitrite. She is one of the fifty Nereïdes, the daughters of Nereus. When Poseidon tried to woo her she would flee and hide in the Halls of Okeanos (as per Oppianus is his Halieutica). However, dolphins serving Poseidon found her and reported her location to Poseidon, who forthwith went there and carried of the maiden to make her his wife and Queen of the Seas. This seems similar to the myth of the abduction of Persephone by Haides, although I have not found any mention of Nereus and Poseidon making an agreement and agreeing to the betrothal, as was the case with Haides and Zeus in regards to Persephone.

From Poseidon and Amphitrite were then born several children, foremost of which is Triton (the Triton as opposed to various Tritones as sea spirits). Besides Triton, I have found mentions of the Rhode and Benthesikyme (Deep Waves) as daughters of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Rhode, however, is also mentioned as a daughter of Poseidon by Aphrodite. Rhode became the wife of Helios and the eponymous Goddess of Rhodos.

However, Poseidon had many more loves and extramarital offspring. One of the main such relationships is with his sister Demeter. There is an Arkadian myth of Poseidon desiring Demeter, who would however not yield to his advances. She fled and transformed into a mare, however Poseidon transformed into a stallion and in these forms, Poseidon managed to catch Demeter and mate with her. Demeter’s wrath was so great she was called Demeter Erinys (Wrathful), who bore from this union the divine stallion Arion, and a daughter only known as Despoina (Mistress). It is unknown what Despoina’s proper name is, if she has one; however, she is intricately tied into Mysteries of Demeter in Arkadia, and her name might have been too holy to utter before non-initiates or even to be used outside the context of the worship of the Mysteries. Despoina is also a title of Persephone and the two are sometimes identified with one another. It is indeed striking how both these Goddesses had names that were rarely used and were more often called by titles, Kore (Maiden) for Persephone and Despoina for this mysterious daughter of Demeter and Poseidon.

But I digress. A mortal son, this time, the Hero Theseus, whom Poseidon sired by the mortal woman Aithra from Troizenos in the Argolis region. According to myth, Aigeus, King of Athens, slept with her in the same night. This involves Aigeus worrying about not having an heir, so he consulted the Oracle of Delphoi, and on his way back stayed in Troizenos for a little while with King Pittheus, a son of Pelops. When he heard about the confusing oracular pronunciation Aigeus received, Pittheus managed to figure it out and let Aigeus sleep with his daughter Aithra. In the same night, Poseidon also slept with her. From that night was born a son, Theseus, who would be heir to Aigeus, but was the son of Poseidon. Theseus would become a great Hero of Athens, slaying the Minotaur of Crete and eventually uniting all of Attika under the rule of Athens.Another Hero connected with Poseidon is Pelops, though not a son of Poseidon, but rather after his resurrection Poseidon was smitten with him and took him as his lover. Later Poseidon aided Pelops in his quest to win the hand of Hippodameia and succeed her father as King.

Another Hero connected with Poseidon is Pelops, though not a son of Poseidon, but rather after his resurrection Poseidon was smitten with him and took him as his lover. Later Poseidon aided Pelops in his quest to win the hand of Hippodameia and succeed her father as King. Pelops is the father of Pittheus and grandfather of Aithra, mother of Theseus. Interesting how these things go, isn’t it?

Some more offspring, divine ones, are Aiolos, God of the Winds and ruler of the Aiolian/Lipari Islands, son of Poseidon by Arne. Asopos, a River God born to the nymph Pero or Kelousa; other accounts, however, mention him as the son of Okeanos and Tethys, as all other River Gods are. Proteus is also called a son of Poseidon, although I have not found a mother for him.

Yet another famous figure of myth: Polyphemos, the Kyklops who ate several of Odysseus’ men and was eventually blinded by Odysseus. This act is the catalyst for Odysseus taking ten years to return home, because of Poseidon’s wrath.

To list more family and offspring would take far too long, so I’ll just leave it at this.



2 comments on “Poseidon’s MDT – Day 5: Family & Genealogy

  1. Edward P. Butler says:

    Shouldn’t these be “MDT”, for “Month of Devotional Thought”, rather than “DMT”?

    Liked by 1 person

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