|Author||Charles River Editors|
|Publisher||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|Publication Date||May 4, 2017|
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*Includes ancient accounts of Poseidon
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
“I begin to sing about Poseidon, the great god, mover of the earth and fruitless sea, god of the deep who is also lord of Helicon and wide Aegae. A two-fold office the gods allotted you, O Shaker of the Earth, to be a tamer of horses and a savior of ships! Hail, Poseidon, Holder of the Earth, dark-haired lord! O blessed one, be kindly in heart and help those who voyage in ships!” = Homeric Hymn to Poseidon
Poseidon is one of the most easily recognizable characters in all of ancient Greek mythology. His signature trident is iconic; one sight of it invariably floods the modern mind with images of aquatic chariots and daunting typhoons. But there is so much more to the character of Poseidon than maritime denizens and disasters, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Poseidon was one of the most revered gods of the ancient Mediterranean for centuries — if not millennia — and that kind of reverence brings with it the layering of myths, rituals, and history like the strata of sediments on a river bed. The idea of a god like Poseidon being only the god of the sea is too minimalistic and too reductionist to come anywhere near the truth of how an ancient worshipper may have pictured him in her prayers.
In Aristophanes’s comedy The Birds, Poseidon is depicted as a haughty, stern character with little changeability or volatility. He is the typical “pillar” of the Pantheon of Olympian gods that Poseidon came to represent to later audiences. However, it is vital to remember that The Birds was performed nearly two centuries after the opening quote of this book, and the evolution of Poseidon’s character is a stark one. A “Shaker of the Earth” and a “savior of ships” can hardly be expected to be mundane. Acclaimed historian Robert Parker put it best when he said, “Poseidon was a god of the old-fashioned, ambiguous type who had the power to quell storms because he also had power to raise them.”
Notice “old-fashioned” has nothing to do with “reliability” or “dependability”. If anything, very early religion in ancient Greece was more fluid and volatile. Gods could be dismissed or assimilated by other gods and cults could “invade” territories and overthrow or adopt the local gods as facets of their own personalities. In Archaic Greece, the cult idol was often an amorphous block of wood called a Xoanon, which people would worship as an aniconic symbol of a numinous power with a name. This ambiguity of character granted Poseidon and the other gods the ability to gradually adopt the characteristics of their personalities and cults over time. Their personas evolved thanks to a series of catastrophic and logical events visible in both the literary and archaeological record and continued to do so until they became the calcified, easily understandable stock characters of modern-day mythology books. With just a cursory look into the evolution of his character, however, Poseidon becomes as mercurial and turbulent and fascinating as the sea itself.
Poseidon: The Origins and History of the Greek God of the Sea looks at the story of the Sea God and the various roles he played in Greek mythology. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about Poseidon like never before.