Origins of the Greek God Poseidon
By Penelope Trent - March 13, 2023

Poseidon was the second son of Cronus (the youngest of the 12 titans) and Rhea, a fertility goddess. Brother of Zeus, the sky god, and of Hades, god of the underworld. In most accounts, he is swallowed by his father at birth, and he is later saved, along with his other siblings, by Zeus. His wife was Amphitrite, who bore him two sons, Triton and Nereus. He was the ruler of the sea and lord of earthquakes. He was one of the twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religions and myths. He is often considered the tamer or father of horses. With a stroke of his trident, he created springs associated with the word horse, and his Roman equivalent is Neptune. The name Poseidon means lord of the earth.

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Poseidon was the protector of the sea and many Greek cities and colonies. Homer and Hesiod claim that Poseidon became the lord of the seas after defeating his father, Cronos. The world is divided into parts for his three sons; Zeus received the sky, Hades underworld, and sea Poseidon, Earth, and Mount Olympus belonged to the three. His primary weapon and symbol was a trident, perhaps once a fishing spear. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Poseidon’s trident, like the thunderbolt of Zeus and the helmet of Hades, was made by three cyclops.

As god of earthquakes, Poseidon was also associated with dry land, and many of his earliest places of worship in Greece were inland. However, they were sometimes located around ponds and rivers or associated with water. Poseidon clashed with various characters in land disputes. Among them was a war for sovereignty over Attica, which he lost to the goddess Athena. Despite the defeat, Poseidon was also worshiped there, especially at Colonus. Poseidon was introduced to Greece as the god of horses by the earliest Hellenes, who lived around the 2nd century BC. He also introduced the first horses in the country. Poseidon himself fathered many horses, the most famous of which was the winged horse Pegasus by Gorgon Medusa.