POSEIDÓHN - ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ



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6. Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδν, ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ. Pronounced: poh-see-THOHN', accent on the last syllable; the d (delta) at the beginning of the last syllable is pronounced like a soft th as in this, not like the th in theory.)  

Poseidóhn is one of the most important deities of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods. He is the son of Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα), and, hence, the brother of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) and  (Pluto; Gr. Πλούτων). His sisters are Æstía (Hestia; Gr. στία), Dimítir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ), and Íra (Hera; Gr. Ήρα); like his siblings, he was swallowed up by his father and later thrown up, according to the mythology. 

There is an interesting story concerning the birth of Poseidóhn related by Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας) in his travelogue of Arkadía (Arcadia; Gr. Αρκαδία):

"When Rhea had given birth to Poseidon, she laid him in a flock for him to live there with the lambs, and the spring too received its name just because the lambs pastured around it. Rhea, it is said, declared to Cronus that she had given birth to a horse, and gave him a foal to swallow instead of the child, just as later she gave him in place of Zeus a stone wrapped up in swaddling clothes." [1]

As the reader will see below, Poseidóhn is called one of the Three Zefs, so it is not surprising that a similar story would be shared in both the birth of Poseidóhn as well as that of Zefs.

Poseidóhn is married to Amphitríti (Amphitrite; Gr. Ἀμφιτρίτη) who bore him the following children: Trítohn (Triton; Gr. Τρίτων)Ródi (Rhode; Gr. Ῥόδη), and Bænthæsikými (Benthesicyme; Gr. Βενθεσικύμη).

 
Characteristics of Poseidóhn

Poseidóhn, according to the mythology, was determined by lot to have dominion over the sea. Therefore, he has the ability to grant safe voyage over the sea and save seafarers from marine calamity. He is also said to have a similar power as Zefs, the ability to cause storms, but at sea.

Poseidóhn has a particular interest in horses, because according to Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος. Iliás xxiii. 277) he created the horse, and he taught man how to ride with the bridal. He is said to have instituted the racing of horses. There is also the mythology of Dimíter, who to escape him, transformed herself into a mare, but Poseidóhn tricked her and became a horse.

Poseidóhn is described as holding the earth, because his dominion, the Sea, is thought to surround the earth, and, therefore, he has the ability to shake the earth, i.e. to produce earthquakes. 

The Orphic hymn to Poseidóhn suggests and offering of myrrh. Also appropriate are cakes made in the shape of the horse, the bull (the could be decorated as either black or white), the boar, the dolphin, and the ram, animals which were sacrificed to him in antiquity.


Poseidóhn Rules the Sea and the Middle Sky

Poseidóhn is Zefs (Zeus) of the Sea and the Middle Sky. His dominion begins from just above the surface of the Earth and just above the sea-floor. Ploutohn has dominion of the sea-floor and the Earth (and just a little above), but beyond this is the domain of Poseidóhn. The area which includes the Sea and extending above the Sea and above the Earth up to the Yposælínia (Hyposelenia; Gr. Υποσελήνια), the area just below the moon, is the domain of Poseidóhn

The Middle Sky, the area from the Earth up to the moon, is where the souls are said to float between lives [2]; it is here where also dwell particular deities, the Gods and Goddesses of the Middle Sky, such as Ækáti (Hecate or Hekate; Gr. Ἑκάτη). According to Dioyǽnis Laǽrtios (Diogenes Laërtius; Gr. Διογένης Λαέρτιος) in his biography of the ancient philosopher Pythagóras (Gr. Πυθαγόρας):

"When cast out upon the earth, it (ed. the soul) wanders in the air like the body. Hermes (ed. Ærmís; Gr. Ἑρμῆς) is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, since it is he who brings in the souls from their bodies both by land and sea; and the pure are taken into the uppermost region, but the impure are not permitted to approach the pure or each other, but are bound by the Furies in bonds unbreakable. The whole air is full of souls which are called Genii or Heroes; these are they who send men dreams and signs of future disease and health, and not to men alone, but to sheep also and cattle as well; and it is to them that purifications and lustrations, all divination, omens and the like, have reference. The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or to evil. Blest are the men who acquire a good soul; [if it be bad] they can never be at rest, nor ever keep the same course two days together." [3]


Poseidóhn and the Three Zefs

Since he is also the lord of the Sea, Poseidóhn has dominion over all the souls in the Sea. Poseidóhn also has dominion over all the souls of those who are between lives who dwell in the Middle Sky, while Ploutohn rules the souls of those between lives who dwell in the lower sky next to the earth, they who are called the landed daimons because they are tied to the earth because of crimes they have committed. Above the Middle Sky is the dominion of Olympian Zefs. Therefore, these are the three Gods we call Zefs: Olympian Zefs, Poseidóhn (Zefs of the Sea and the Middle Sky), and Ploutohn (Terrestrial Zefs, Zefs of the Earth), as explained by Prόklos (Proclus; Gr. Πρόκλος):

"He (ed. Olympian Zefs) is also the summit of the three, has the same name with the fontal Jupiter, is united to him, and is monadically called Jupiter. But the second is called dyadically, marine Jupiter, and Neptune (ed. Poseidóhn). And the third is triadically denominated, terrestrial Jupiter, Pluto, and Hades. The first of these also preserves, fabricates, and vivifies summits, but the second, things of a second rank, and the third those of a third order. Hence this last is said to have ravished Proserpine (ed. Pærsæphóni), that together with her he might animate the extremities of the universe."  [4]


In the symbolism of the Orphic egg, Ploutohn is the yolk, Zefs is the cortex (the outer layer), Poseidóhn is the middle section (the liquid or "white"); these are the three Zefs.

Zefs wields the thunderbolt. Poseidóhn wields the Tríaina (Trident; Gr. Τρίαινα). Ploutohn possesses the Áïdos kynǽin (Aïdos kuneēn; Gr. Ἄϊδος κυνέην), the dog-skin cap which renders the wearer invisible. All these weapons, which are symbols of the power of the Three Zefs, were created by the Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes; Gr. Κύκλωπες).


Poseidóhn in Iconography

In iconography, Poseidóhn is depicted as fully mature and bearded, powerful and severe, with a serious demeanor as often as a wrathful one. He is accompanied by horses or sea-creatures, especially the dolphin, and various deities associated with the sea. Poseidóhn rides a glorious chariot led by two or four horses with golden manes and hooves of bronze.

Poseidóhn wields the three-pronged spear or scepter called the Tríaina (Trident; Gr. Τρίαινα) which has the power to cause earthquakes, sea-storms, crack rocks, and even to cause springs of sea-water to flow when struck on the ground. It indicates his power over the Sea. According to Ploutarkhos (Plutarch; Gr. Πλούταρχος), the three prongs of the Tríaina are representative of his dominion over the third region (Ἠθικά: Pærí Ísidos kai Osíridos Chapter 75, 381f), while Zefs and Ploutohn have dominion over the other two, as described above.



Poseidóhn and Numerology

Because Poseidóhn has dominion over the sixth Natural Law, the number 6 is associated with him; the number 8 is also for the following reason, as given to us by Ploutarkhos (Plutarch; Gr. Πλούταρχος):

"...they (ed. the Athenians) sacrifice to Neptune (ed. Roman for Poseidóhn) on the eighth day of every month. The number eight being the first cube of an even number, and the double of the first square, seemed to be an emblem of the steadfast and immovable power of this God, who from thence has the names of Asphalius (ed. Aspháleios; Gr. Ἀσφάλειος) and Gæiochus (ed. Yaiíokhos; Gr. Γαιήοχος), that is, the establisher and stayer of the earth." [5] 


Poseidóhn and the Stories of Troy

Poseidóhn is said to have built the walls of Tría (Troy; Gr. Τροία) for King Laomǽdohn (Laomedon; Gr. Λαομέδων):

(Poseidóhn speaks): "I built for the Trojans round about their city a wall, wide and very fair, so that the city might never be broken; and you Phoebus (ed. Apóllohn), herded the sleek cattle of shambling gait among the spurs of wooded Ida, the man-ridged." [6]

Using a mythological interpretation of the battle of Tría, Ælǽni (Helen; Gr. Ἑλένη) represents the Basket of the Mysteries stolen from Greece by the Trojans, Poseidóhn would be a protector of the Mystíria, along with Apóllohn, their primary guardian, who in some accounts is said to have built the walls together with him. This would follow, as without Próödos (Progress; Gr. Πρόοδος), the Natural Law which is the jurisdiction of Poseidóhn, entry to the Mysteries is impossible.

Poseidóhn plays a role in both of the epic poems of Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος). In Iliás (The Iliad; Gr. Ιλιάς), he is described as opposing the Greeks; in Odýsseia (The Odyssey; Gr. Ὀδύσσεια) he persecutes Odysséfs (Odysseus or Ulysses; Gr. Ὀδυσσεύς) for the blinding of his son, the Kýklohps (Cyclops; Gr. Κύκλωψ) Polýphimos (Polyphemus; Gr. Πολύφημος). These stories, while having some basis in history, are presented in the poems as mythology, for while 
Poseidóhn is depicted as in opposition to the Greeks and Odysséfs, he plays a major role in their development, as can also be said of Apóllohn, who is depicted as on the side of the Trojans and therefore the enemy of Akhilléfs, but who in the end deifies the Hero, for the myths often conceals hidden meanings:

"When I began to write my history I was inclined to count these legends as foolishness, but on getting as far as Arcadia I grew to hold a more thoughtful view of them, which is this. In the days of old those Greeks who were considered wise spoke their sayings not straight out but in riddles..." [7] 


Poseidóhn in Orphismós

Poseidóhn rules the sixth Orphic House, the month of Ikhtheis (Pisces; Gr. Ιχθείς) from February 21 through March 20, and his dominion is the Natural Law of Próödos (Progress; Gr. Πρόοδος). The Divine Consort of Poseidóhn is the Goddess Dimítir (Demeter). The Orphic Hymns suggest an offering of myrrh to Poseidóhn; labdanum is another traditional offering.


The Orphic Hymn to Poseidóhn

Please visit this page for a thorough examination of the Orphic hymn to Poseidóhn, a veritable snapshot of the essence of the God. It includes the Thomas Taylor translation, the original Greek text, an easy transliteration of the Greek text for anyone who may wish to learn the hymn in ancient Greek, and a word-by-word examination of the poem:

The Orphic Hymn to Poseidóhn



THE MANY NAMES OF POSEIDÓHN

Please visit this page: The Epithets of Poseidóhn


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods
based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms
related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.


NOTES:

[1] Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας) Ælládos Pæriíyisis (Description of Greece; Gr. Ελλάδος Περιήγησις), Book VIII (Arkadía).2-3. As found in Pausanias: Description of Greece, trans. W. H. S. Jones, 1918-1935, in four volumes. We are using the 1961 Loeb Classical Library edition, William Heinemann (London, England UK) and Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA), where this quotation may be found in Vol. III on p. 381.

[2] "All soul, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander <in> the region between earth and moon..." (Ploutarkhos Ithiká (Moralia; Gr. Ἠθικά)Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon, Chap. 28,  943C; trans. Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold, 1957, Plutarch's Moralia Vol. XII; found here in the 1967 Loeb edition,  Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA USA)-William Heinemann (London England), p. 201)

[3] Diogǽnis Laǽrtios The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book 8.31, trans. by C. D. Yonge, 1828; Henry G. Bohn Publ. (London, England). 

[4] Extract from Próklos: Manuscript Scolia on the Kratýlos of Plátohn, found in The Theology of Plato/Proclus, trans. Thomas Taylor, Prometheus Trust (Somerset UK), Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, p. 683.  See more of this in the brief essay entitled Kronos and His Three Sons on this page: Krónos

[5] Ploutarkhos Víi Parállili (Parallel Lives; Gr. Βίοι Παράλληλοι) The essay on Thiséfs (Theseus; Gr. Θησεύς), Chapter 36.4, final sentence of the essay, trans. by John Dryden. We are using the 1992 Modern Library Edition (New York, NY, USA), Random House, of Plutarch's Lives: The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, where this quotation can be found on p. 24.

[6] Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) Iliás (The Iliad; Gr. Ἰλιάς) 21.445-449, trans. A. T. Murray 1925; Revised by William F. Wyatt. We are using the 1999 edition entitled Homer Iliad II: Books 13-24, published by Harvard University Press (Cambridge MA USA and London England), Loeb Classical Library LCL 171, where this quotation may be found on p. 437.

[7] Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας) Ælládos Pæriíyisis (Description of Greece; Gr. Ελλάδος Περιήγησις), Book VIII (Arkadía).3. As found in Pausanias: Description of Greece, trans. W. H. S. Jones, 1918-1935, in four volumes. We are using the 1961 Loeb Classical Library edition, William Heinemann (London, England UK) and Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA), where this quotation may be found in Volume III on p. 381.


The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 


PLEASE NOTE:  Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING:  HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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