In Greek mythology, the god of the sea is Poseidon. Often depicted wielding a trident, Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities and holds a position of immense power and reverence within the pantheon. Beyond just the sea, Poseidon was also the god of earthquakes and horses, earning him the nickname “Earth-shaker.”
Poseidon’s origins and significance are deeply intertwined with the history and culture of ancient Greece. As the brother of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Hades, the ruler of the underworld, Poseidon shared in the division of the world after the gods’ victorious battle against the Titans. While Zeus ruled the sky and Hades took dominion over the underworld, Poseidon was granted the vast and mysterious realm of the sea.
The sea, to the ancient Greeks, represented both bounty and danger. It was a source of sustenance, trade routes, and exploration, but it also held unpredictable storms and treacherous waters. Poseidon, in his dual nature, could be both beneficent, ensuring calm seas and aiding sailors, and vengeful, creating ship-wrecking storms if slighted or if proper respect was not paid.
The god’s temperament was famous for its volatility. He was quick to anger, and myths abound of him taking revenge on those who crossed him. One of the most famous legends involving Poseidon’s wrath is the story of the hero Odysseus. After blinding Poseidon’s cyclops son Polyphemus, Odysseus incurred the sea god’s wrath, leading to a ten-year journey fraught with trials and tribulations before he could return home to Ithaca.
Poseidon’s connection to horses might seem unusual, but it is believed that he created the first horse and was worshiped as a god of horse racing and chariot racing. This link between the sea and horses is also evident in the mythological creatures he is associated with, such as the hippocampus, a creature with the upper body of a horse and the tail of a fish.
In many depictions, Poseidon is shown with his wife Amphitrite, a sea goddess, by his side. Together they had numerous children, both gods and monsters, further emphasizing his significant influence in Greek mythology.