Poseidon was worshiped throughout the ancient world as the sovereign lord of the sea. He ruled the deep blue oceans and controlled the fierce storms that blew violently atop of their waves.
Like his fellow siblings, Poseidon had been swallowed up by his father Cronus moments after he was born. He, along with his brother Hades and his three sisters; Hestia, Hera and Demeter remained hidden away inside of the titan’s belly until courageously set free by their youngest brother Zeus.
After the fall of Cronus, the three gods drew lots from a helmet to determine how they would divide rulership over the universe. While the earth and Mount Olympus were considered common ground to all, Zeus was given supreme reign over the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon dominion over the many seas.
The god built himself a beautiful underwater palace, which included vast stables used for housing his team of prized chariot horses. It was said that no other steeds could compare to their beauty, for they were white in color and sported both brazen hooves and flowing manes of gold.
Poseidon had in his possession a gilded chariot which he often used to restore peace and tranquility to the turbulent waters. Once the tempest had been calmed, aquatic creatures of every type would rise out of the brine and follow behind its rolling wheels, laughing and dancing happily upon the froth.
Because he was also the god of earthquakes, Poseidon was given the nick name of “The Earth-shaker” and was commonly shown carrying a three speared trident which he used to shatter and shake anything he desired.
Poseidon’s Quest for City-State Recognition
Poseidon was second only to Zeus in power and was usually described as having a cranky and quarrelsome nature. The sea god often found himself at the center of many disagreements concerning his title as principal deity to many of the regions found across the ancient world. In one instance, he disputed the validity of Corinth’s patronage with Helios, the titan ruler of the sun.
Because the situation required an arbitrator, Briareus, one of the Hundred-handed, was called away from Tartarus to preside over the inquiry. After hearing both sides of the argument, Briareus declared that Helios be granted the Acropolis of Corinth and Poseidon be given the Isthmus.
Poseidon also challenged Hera over the reign of the city of Argos. This time the matter was brought before the river gods Inachus, Cephissus and Asterion for judgement.
When the three decided to bestow the city to the goddess, Poseidon flew into a fit of rage and dried up all three of their streams, preventing them from flowing freely during the summer months. He then turned his wrath upon the city of Argos itself, and in a final act of revenge caused a great flood to engulf the land.
On another occasion Poseidon clashed with the goddess Athena for rulership over the town of Troezen, but this time Zeus intervened and insisted that the city be shared equally by both parties. Needless to say this did not sit well with the sea god. Poseidon also challenged Zeus for rulership over Aegina and Dionysus for Naxos, but was unsuccessful at both attempts.
Poseidon’s most famous dispute over land once again involved the goddess Athena, but this time the area in question was the district of Attica.
As both gods thought themselves to be the more suitable ruler, it was decided that the deity who could offer the most beneficial gift to the region would be crowned its patron.
Poseidon began the contest by raising up his massive trident and firmly striking it against the ground. A small section of earth was opened and from the chasm a spring of sea water began to flow fluently across the length of the Acropolis.
All eyes now turned towards Athena. The goddess thought for a moment and then with the wave of her hand brought forth a beautiful olive tree, which she gently placed beside the newly formed stream.
After a bit of banter between the remaining Olympians a vote was taken and all were in agreement that Athena had indeed offered the most useful prize. All, that is but Zeus. Wanting desperately to avoid trouble, the chief god chose to remain silent and refused to voice any opinion on the matter.
Once again Poseidon unleashed his wrath upon the unfortunate residents and flooded the plain of Attica. In order to keep the peace, the Athenians pledged to honor both Athena and Poseidon on the Acropolis, where even to this very day one can still find their two gifts sitting quietly side by side.