Here’s how the brother of Zeus managed to escape death and become lord of the oceans in a period when the ancient Greeks had abandoned exploration over land.
Poseidon (who the Romans called Neptune) was god of the sea for the ancient Greeks. Apart from being brother of Zeus, protector of horses and having the power to unleash earthquakes.
His role as “protector of horses” is less well-known, but for scholars of Greek legend this was dictated by the fact that Poseidon was originally a horse-god, only later becoming associated with the sea. More or less around the same time that the ancient Greeks began to devote themselves to fishing and sea trade rather than farming and exploration over land.
In some legends, Poseidon appear to be the elder brother of Zeus, in others he’s the younger of the two, while the most plausible theory is that the lord of Olympus had only brothers and sisters of the same age who were devoured by Cronus, the terrible god of time. This evil father thus avoided being deposed by his heirs as had been foretold by a fearful prophecy.
Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of Zeus, managed to save her famous son by of a cunning trick:
she replaced the infant deity with a stone which she wrapped in swaddling clothes so that vendicative Chronos would not devour him.
Once Zeus was grown he confronted his father Cronus, saved his siblings by forcing the god to disgorge them all, safe and sound. All these divinities brought back to life subsequently divided up the kingdoms of creation among themselves. And it was to Poseidon that it fell to rule over the waves.
Once grown, Poseidon had seven children with his consort Alia, six boys and one girl called Rhodos. He also had a long list of lovers including the greatest among the goddesses (Aphrodite, Clito, Demetra, Melia, Medusa to mention but a few) as well as nymphs and common mortal women (Amymone, Cenide, Enope, Europa etc.).
And it was as punishment for the adulterous relations between Poseidon and Medusa/Gorgon that Athena, goddess of wisdom and justice, turned Medus into the monster with snakes instead of hair that could turn anyone who looked at her to stone.
It would appear that he had taken her on the floor of the temple dedicated to Athena and the goddess had been outraged by the affront.
Finally, there were countless celebrations in honour of the great Poseidon by fishermen and sailors who sacrificed their beautiful horses to him by drowning. This was so that the god of the sea would allow his followers to sail on calm waters and discover fertile lands where they could land their ships.
And if anyone should fail to give him his due respect before setting sail or even during the voyage, an enraged Poseidon would wait for the right moment to unleash his destructive fury in storms and violent waves which nobody could survive.
Enjoy our gallery dedicated to the best tattoos of the god of the seas and oceans!