The Proud Horseman
The Sea, Horses, Earthquakes
Trident, Fish, Dolphins, Horses
"Hear, Poseidon, ruler of the sea profound, whose liquid grasp begirds the solid ground; who, at the bottom of the stormy main, dark and deep-bosomed holdest thy watery reign."
Homer, epic poet and historian
Poseidon served his younger brother Zeus in the Titanomachy sitting astride his mighty war horse and wielding his cyclopes-forged trident. The ground shook and mountains fell when he charged the enemy. When the Olympians were victorious over the Titans he kept the horse as his symbol, to remind everyone of his role in the war. Zeus and his brothers divided the realms between them by drawing lots. Poseidon gained dominion over the sea and its contents but he was not content. He covets Zeus' authority and the respect given to Hades.
After the Titanomachy's devastation the Greeks in Attica needed to found a new capital city and to decide which god to honour. The people were split between Athena or Poseidon so the priests of each processed through Attica until they came to the port of Eleusis. They petitioned their gods for a single gift and the city would honour the gift the people most valued. Athena struck a rock with her spear and there sprang a bountiful olive tree. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a spring arose, but it was salty and brackish. The people chose the olive tree and the city became Athens with Athena as its patron. Poseidon was angered and sent a tidal wave at the city. The flooding served as a warning to the Athenians that though they had chosen Athena they could not ignore the God of the Sea.
When King Laomedon of Troy built his city he requested divine help in raising the defensive walls. Promised a great reward, Poseidon and Apollo set to work building magnificent and majestic defences, but were dismayed when Laomedon reneged on the deal. Apollo left in disgust but Poseidon did not let the matter rest. To punish Laomedon's deceit he sent a monster from the depths of the sea to blockade the city. For months the beast ravaged the coastline around Troy, letting no ships leave or come close to the shore. It even seized Laomedon's daughter as a hostage. Herakles freed Troy when he killed the beast to save the girl's life.
As someone who fought in the Titanomachy, Poseidon wants to keep the Titans imprisoned. However, in another war there may be opportunities for him to gain the power and respect he desires. Poseidon is too proud to fear the Titans but does not dismiss their threat, in particular Oceanus. He lurks in the Atlantic and his children are the river and lake nymphs. Seeing threats everywhere, Poseidon keeps a close court and often sends champions to check on the nymphs or patrol the entrance to the Mediterranean. His realm is the bedrock on which he builds his ambition to become King of Gods and he is relentless in its defence.
A proud man, Poseidon considers himself to be at least the equal of his brothers. This brings him into conflict with Zeus when Poseidon feels his younger brother has not shown him enough respect. In truth, Poseidon is angry with Zeus for being King, yet he recognises that though he is Zeus' equal in many ways he cannot match Zeus' raw power.
His normal appearance is as a heavy set middle-aged man with a long beard and hair. Poseidon lives in a palace under the Aegean Sea made of coral, gemstones and sea shells, and travels to Olympus when needed. His palace is a better place to tend to his realm and it has forged a deep connection between the god and the sea. He can hear almost anything that happens in the sea and his dolphins bring him news. The sea mirrors his moods, becoming agitated and rough when Poseidon is angry and smooth when he is calm.
Scattered over many islands and coasts the Greeks are forever at the mercy of the sea, and shrines to Poseidon are common sight. Sacrifices to him are a black or white bull for the rich or a ram or wild boar for the less wealthy. Before the most important sea journeys horses, or even complete chariot teams, are cast into the sea to ensure Poseidon’s protection against rough seas and storms.
Poseidon is the patron deity of Corinth. Sitting on the narrow land of the isthmus and with harbours on either side, the Corinthians know the value of worshipping Poseidon. The temple of Isthmia, located 10 miles east of Corinth, is the largest religious site dedicated to Poseidon in Greece. The central temple is in its third incarnation after the two previous buildings were destroyed by fire. It is also the site of the Isthmian games, one of the four great panhellenic games. These were founded by Theseus and are dedicated to Poseidon. The games are shorter than the Olympic games with a focus on events linked to Poseidon - horse racing, chariot racing, sailing and swimming. The winners of each event are given a crown made of wild celery.