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 Poseidon

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PostSubject: Poseidon   Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:13 pm



Poseidon was the god of the sea, storms, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades. Poseidon has many children. There is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although he lost the contest for Athens to Athena.

Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance, while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis. In his benign aspect, Poseidon was seen as creating new islands and offering calm seas. When offended or ignored, he supposedly struck the ground with his trident and caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings and shipwrecks. Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice; in this way, according to a fragmentary papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian seashore before the climacteric battle of Issus, and resorted to prayers, "invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for whom he ordered a four-horse chariot to be cast into the waves."[1]



According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization, for example, Delphic Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle, while Poseidon watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon's Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers in 400–399 BCE singing to Poseidon a paean — a kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo.

The name seems to transparently stem from Greek pósis "lord, husband" with a less-transparent -don element, perhaps from dea, "goddess". If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the name PO-SE-DA-WO-NE ("Poseidon") occurs with greater frequency than does DI-U-JA ("Zeus"). A feminine variant, PO-SE-DE-IA, is also found, indicating a lost consort goddess, in effect a precursor of Amphitrite. Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for "the Two Queens and Poseidon" and to "the Two Queens and the King". The most obvious identification for the "Two Queens" is with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods.[3] In Mycenaean Knossos, Poseidon is already identified as "Earth-Shaker" (E-NE-SI-DA-O-NE),[4] a powerful attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture). In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, no connection between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced; among the Olympians it was determined by lot that he should rule over the sea [5]: the god preceded his realm.
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