Myths about poseidon

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Statue of Poseidon
The myths about Poseidon, like all the Greek myths, have their greatest value in the powerful Greek literature we still have today
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Learn about the God of the earthquake.

In "The Odyssey," The Homeric epithets attributed to Poseidon are, in comparison with other gods and goddesses of the Greeks, astonishingly accurate and meaningful. Athena, the daughter of Zeus and Odysseus' divine patron, is constantly labelled "grey-eyed." Whether this nods at her support for the murky and sly ways of Odysseus is possible, but ultimately unclear.

Unlike Athena, Poseidon, the god of the sea, earthquakes, horses and brother to all the top Greek brass of Zeus, Hera, Artemis and Hades, has specific titles. In book 13 he is "god of the earthquake." Book 9 lists him as "god of the sea-blue man who rocks the earth."

Poseidon will always be associated with the soaked and bedrizzled merman weilding a trident, but like his equally angry older brother Zeus (known as "he who marshals the storm cloud") he is prone to disastrous and calatimous behavior of a sinister magnitude.

Myths about Poseidon abound, but one thing is certain: he could be a bit peurile at times. For a lover of horses, he reveled in the hundreds of slaughtered seabiscuits the Greeks offered up to him as a sacrifice to guarantee a safe sea-faring journey. Easily irritable, he became downright curmudgeonly when offended, subsequently plunging his long trident into the ground and causing a catastrophic earthquake, killing whomever he pleased (one wonders why sticking the offending with that three-pronged razor sharp trident wouldn't do the strict, but the Greek gods had a strong disposition to the dramatic).

Poseidon, like his brothers, was born but quickly devoured by his own father, Cronos, a Titan who feared a prophesy saying one of his sons would usurp him, as he had his father, Uranus. When Rhea, Cronos' old lady, gave birth to Zeus, she presented Cronos with a stone in place of her new child. He ate the stone, Zeus was spirited away and raised, according to legend, on the island of Crete. When he matured, he gave Rhea a poison which she administered to Cronos, who vomited up all his children (somehow still alive), afterwhich Zeus returned, fully grown, and dispatched him and the rest of the Titans, establishing their rule and dynasty. In Homer's "The Iliad," there is a line describing the earth's split into three realms of authority: Zeus in the heavens, Poseidon in the sea, and Hades in the underworld.

It has been said that 'The Iliad' used to be known as "The Wrath of Achilles." Indeed, much of the story revolves around Achilles abstaining from battle, then becoming so enraged at his young servant Patroclus' death at the hands of Hector that he reentered the fray, slew Hector thereby providing the missing link that would eventually end the war and allow for the sacking of Troy.

"The Odyssey" may, in turn, be known as 'The Wrath of Poseidon," since his vengeance, like that of Achilles, is indispensable to the narrative. Poseidon, who initially supported the Greek's assault, ultimately resented their demise. They were great and adeptly skilled with horses, a prized quality in Poseidon's book. Hector himself, Troy's greatest warrior, is constantly referred to as "breaker of horses." Yet Odysseus, on his voyage home, infuriates Poseidon for blinding his son, a Cyclops. At every turn he hounds Odysseus. He wrecks his ships, drowns his men, and unyieldingly confounds all of our hero's plans. 

The myths about Poseidon, like all the Greek myths, have their greatest value in the powerful Greek literature we still have today. So though we may find Poseidon a little to human, a little to peevish and quarrelsome, and maybe even fanatically homocidal, he play an integral part in one of the greatest story ever told. Without him, Odysseus would have returned home in a few days.

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