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in Greek religion, god of the sea and of water generally; he is to be distinguished from Pontus, the personification of
the sea and the oldest Greek divinity of the waters. The name Poseidon means either “husband of earth” or “lord of the earth.” Traditionally
he was a son of Cronus, an ancient chief god, and Rhea, a fertility goddess, and was brother of Zeus, the chief god, and Hades, god of the
underworld. When the three brothers deposed their
father, the kingdom of the sea fell by lot to Poseidon. His weapon was the trident, but it may originally have been a long-handled fish spear.
Poseidon was also the god of earthquakes, and many of his oldest places of worship in Greece were inland. He was, in addition, closely associated
with horses. He was the father of the winged horse Pegasus by the winged monster Medusa. Most scholars agree that Poseidon was brought to Greece
as the god of the earliest Hellenes, who also introduced the first horses to the country.
Although Poseidon lost a contest for sovereignty over Attica to the goddess Athena, he was also worshiped there, particularly at
Colonus, as hippios (“of horses”). Elsewhere he was associated with freshwater springs. Poseidon was the father of Pelias and Neleus
by Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus, and thus became the divine ancestor of the royal families of Thessaly and Messenia. Otherwise his
offspring were mostly giants and savage creatures, such as Orion, Antaeus, and Polyphemus. The general view of his character was violent.
The chief festival in Poseidon’s honour was the Isthmia, the scene of famous athletic contests, celebrated in alternate years near
the Isthmus of Corinth. His character as a sea god became the most prominent in art, and he was represented with the attributes of
the trident, the dolphin, and the tunnyfish. The Romans, ignoring his other aspects, identified him as sea god with Neptune.