An Introduction to Poseidon

Best known as the god of the sea and a patron of sailors, Poseidon is also god of earthquakes, as well as of horses. He is ruler of all the waters, fresh and salt, and of rivers and springs in addition to oceans. His wrath is shown not only in storms at sea but in flood and drought on land.

Among Poseidon’s children are the sea-god Triton and the hero Theseus.

Myths and Stories

Poseidon has relatively few myths apart from his actions in the Iliad, and many of those have to do with his various mates and children. (He is said to be married to the nereid Amphitrite; fortunately for Poseidon, she does not appear to share Hera’s jealous nature, and Poseidon has an easier time of it in this respect than his brother Zeus.) Another story of Poseidon has to do with the apportioning of the world between his brothers, Zeus and Hades, and himself: Zeus took the earth, Hades the underworld, including all its treasures, and Poseidon of course received the sea.

He is also known for his competition with Athena for patronage of the city of Athens; Athena’s gift of the olive tree won her the contest and the city.

Names and Epithets

Like many of the gods, Poseidon was addressed under different names or epithets at different times and under different circumstances.

Poseidon Hippios (Poseidon of the Horse). This epithet refers to Poseidon’s creation of the horse.

Poseidon Aegaeon (Poseidon of the Aegean Sea). One of a number of Poseidon’s epithers related to his connection to a particular body of water.


A very old god, Poseidon’s good will was important to the seafaring Greeks. However, not a great deal of information survives on the god’s festivals.

Poseidaea. It seems likely that a festival for Poseidon (likely called the Poseidaea) took place during the Attic month of Poseideon, but there is no record of it in Athens.

Hippodromia, a festival held in Thessaly for Poseidon Hippodromios

Poseidon was honored on the eighth day of each month.


Poseidon is often depicted in art carrying the trident, his sceptre and favored weapon. He is also connected to the horse, and to various creatures of the sea such as the dolphin and the seahorse.

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