Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Theoi god of the sea
The god of the sea was of incredible importance to the ancient Greeks, whose culture and economy lived and died on the proceeds they could gain from ocean voyages, trading, and wars. Poseidon is the all-powerful god of the oceans, able to bestow calm seas and create convenient islands for those who please him, or to cause fearsome storms and whirlwinds or summon up monsters of the deep to destroy those who do not. Famously temperamental, he was regularly pacified with animal sacrifices and prayers in his temples from the mortals who wished to feel his favor; as a god of the earth as well, most specifically a bringer of huge, damaging earthquakes, there is nowhere safe to hide from him if his anger is aroused. He is also the god of horses, associated in antiquity with the sea.
Poseidon and Amphitrite
It happened that Poseidon was wandering among the islands and saw the sea-goddess Amphitrite there, dancing with her water-nymph attendants. She was very beautiful and he fell madly in love with her and attempted to carry her off, but she refused to listen to his suit and fled into the deepest depths of the ocean, where even he could not find her. Heartbroken, he grieved and wept so much that one of his servants, a dolphin, set out into the waves to find her and beg her to reconsider. Amphitrite was so moved by the dolphin’s plea that she consented to return to Poseidon and become his consort, and Poseidon placed the dolphin in the skies as a constellation in thanks for its faithful service.
Poseidon and Cassiopeia
The queen of Ethiopia, Cassiopeia, was extremely beautiful, as was her daughter, Andromeda; the queen was so pleased by this that she declared before the court that the two of them were more beautiful even than the nereids, the myriad sea-nymph daughters of Poseidon and his consort Amphitrite. Made furious by her presumption, Poseidon sent the great sea-monster Cetus to the kingdom, instructing it to destroy the city in retaliation for Cassiopeia’s hubris. He allowed them only one chance at redemption: if they sacrificed Andromeda to the monster, it would depart in peace. Terrified, the people did so, though she was saved in the end by the hero Perseus, who slew the monster with the help of the other gods. Poseidon had his revenge, however; he placed Cassiopeia in the stars, upside-down to reflect her humiliation, where she remains forevermore.
Poseidon and Medusa
Medusa was once a beautiful maiden, a priestess of Athena sought after by all the young men of Greece. She spurned them, remaining true only to her goddess, but when Poseidon caught sight of her and was filled with lust, she could not resist him and the two coupled on the floor of Athena’s temple. Enraged by this flagrant desecration of her temple and priestess, Athena turned Medusa into a hideous monster, forcing Poseidon to abandon her and never return to the temple.
Poseidon and Caenis
Caenis was a beautiful woman of Thessaly; Poseidon spied her one day and, despite her protests, raped her in the fields. When he was finished, she struck at him and demanded that he grant her a boon for having treated her so cruelly; impressed by her courage, he agreed. Caenis demanded that Poseidon transform her into a man so that she could never be taken advantage of so again, and he did so, turning her into the hero Caeneus, a man immune to weapons who later fought in the Trojan war.
Poseidon and Odysseus
Odysseus, one of the greatest of Greek heroes, sailed to the island of the Cyclopes and disembarked with his men, searching for supplies. When he encountered the cyclopean giant Polyphemus, he blinded him with a heated club and fled. Polyphemus prayed to his father, Poseidon, to avenge him; Poseidon had already hated Odysseus for failing to make a proper sacrifice after he had saved him in the Trojan war, and he marshaled all of his abilities to prevent the hero from returning home alive, forcing him to embark on the thirty-year voyage of perils now known as the Odyssey.