Mythology Monday on Tuesday: Poseidon

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**posting delayed a day in honor of Memorial Day**

I turned to see a tall man striding toward us through the shallow surf. He had a flowing blond beard, a deep tan, and was dressed casually in board shorts and nothing else. I raised my eyebrows at his six-pack and gave Hades a speculative look. I’d never seen Hades with his shirt off. Were all gods built like that? I really hoped so.

“Poseidon,” Hades said in a civil voice. He shifted, subtly placing himself between Poseidon and me. “It’s been a long time.”

To anyone who hadn’t spent months overanalyzing Hades’ every move, he looked perfectly calm. But I could feel the tension radiating off him.

Poseidon stopped an arm’s-length away from us and looked at me. I saw his eyes and caught my breath. They swirled with shades of green, blue, and brown-white waves crested in miniature. They were so deep I could feel myself falling into them. I forced myself to meet the crashing and churning waves, not looking away until Poseidon chuckled.

“You’re the spitting image of your mother.” He grinned at me. “Uncanny. Pleased to meet you in person.” He extended his hand.

Hades pushed my hand down before it could meet his. “Don’t.” His voice was full of warning. I followed his gaze to Poseidon, confused by the sudden malice in Hades’ eyes.

Poseidon laughed. “Oh Hades, you’ve got it bad. There’s little need to worry. I don’t often have interest in children.”

Interesting wording. “Didn’t often.” “Little need.” No wonder Hades looked so tense. This guy was slimy. What would have happened if I’d shaken his hand?

~@~

In Greek mythology, Poseidon is god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses. He is one of the “big six” (thank you Rick Riordan); children of Cronus and Rhea which also includes Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Hades, and Hestia. Some versions of his birth-story indicate that he, like Zeus, was not eaten by Cronus, but hidden among a flock of lambs. His name may mean husband of the earth, which links him with Demeter, but that’s only one possible interpretation. He has also gone by Neptune and Nathus.

He competed with Athena to become patron of the city which would later be known as Athens (i.e Athena won). In the contest, whoever gave the city the best gift won. Poseidon stuck his trident in the ground and a salt-water spring popped up. Not seeing the use in salt water, the city chose Athena’s gift of the olive-tree.

Poseidon was once stripped of his divinity by Zeus, and sent to work for King Laomedon of Troy way before the Trojan war. He and Apollo built the wall around the city. When the wall was done and his divinity returned, he sent a sea-monster to attack Troy, which Hercules defeated. More on this myth in this blog.

He was married to Amphitrite, a once powerful sea-goddess in her own right in Ancient Greece that was eventually downgraded to a simple sea-nymph that was the daughter of Nereus and Doris Or Oceanus and Tethys, which either makes her a Nereid or an Oceanid sea-nymph. Their children included seals, dolphins, Triton, and in some myths daughters named Rhode and Benthesikyme. Poseidon either saw her dancing and carried her off, or had his dolphins track her down after she rejected Atlas and convince her that Poseidon was awesome.

Poseidon was married, but he had many, many, many other trysts, most of which were not-consensual. In one version of the myth, he made Medusa famous by raping her on the steps of the temple of Athena (she’d been running there in hopes her patron-goddess would save her from Poseidon. Athena instead made Medusa into a monster for defiling her temple.

He also raped Demeter. She turned into a horse and tried to flee, but he turned into a stallion and they had one to two (depending on the myth) horse babies named Desponia and Areion. Areion could talk. These were the horses Persephone met on Cumberland Island in Daughter of the Earth and Sky.

He may have been the father of Theseus, more on him in a future blog. He tricked a woman named Tyro who was in love with a river god into sleeping with him my disguising himself as the river god. He seduced one of his granddaughters named Alope by disguising himself as a kingfisher. She had a child and left it outside to die, but a passing mare and some shepherds saved it. Her father walled her up in disgust, but Poseidon sort of saved her by turning her into a spring.

Amymone was rescued from a sater by Poseidon and in gratitude bore him a son.

There was one romantic story that didn’t end in rape. He fell in love with a mortal named Cleito, and created a sanctuary for her on top of a hill surrounded by rings of water. She gave birth to five sets of twin boys, and the first became the founder of Atlantis.

Poseidon was also father to several monsters, giants, and cyclopes by way of Gaia and other monsters.

Poseidon plays a vital role in Homer’s The Odyssey, keeping Odysseus from his home for a great many years out of spite. He plays a lesser role in The Illiad, where he took the Greek’s side in the battle.

I don’t gloss over Poseidon’s dark side in my books. He’s a pervert, and a creep. Frankly, most of the myths featuring Poseidon disgust me. But I can’t deny his important role to Greek mythology, which is why he still has a role in my books.

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3 thoughts on “Mythology Monday on Tuesday: Poseidon

  1. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Athena | Kaitlin Bevis

  2. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Gods of Love, Marriage, and War Associated with Aphrodite | Kaitlin Bevis

  3. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Hera | Kaitlin Bevis

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