This is a post for my March book challenge, #marchmonthofmythology.
Poseidon is the ancient Greek god of the sea. As the brother of Zeus he is one of the more powerful gods. He rules the ocean as Zeus rules the sky and Hades the Underworld. He carries a trident, invented horses, and causes earthquakes.
Wait, what? Horses?
No, sorry, that’s actually not what I wanted you to pick out of that list. It does sound a little weird, I know. Maybe I’ll tell you about it another time. In this post, I want to explain to you why the god of the sea causes earthquakes. That’s pretty weird too, right?
In Homer, Poseidon is often called ‘Earthshaker’. At first I assumed causing earthquakes was just some random power Poseidon happened to have, but there’s actually a perfectly sound reason for it! At least, to the ancient Greeks it was a perfectly sound reason. It all has to do with their world view.
According to the ancient Greeks, the world was divided in layers. On top you have heaven – not Christian heaven, but a region of sky on top of our sky, where the gods lived. It’s above the clouds and even the sun and moon, as you can see in the picture to the right. Below that is the Earth, including our part of the sky. And below and around the Earth is not the Underworld (well, it is, but it’s a little farther down), but the Ocean! So when an earthquake happened, the ancient Greeks thought it was caused by giant waves in the water underneath the earth. Poseidon only needed to smash his trident and he would set the waves in motion, causing the earth above to shake.
As you can see in the picture, Hades lives underneath all that, and below the Underworld is the pit of Tartarus. There’s a rather funny bit in the Iliad when the gods join in the battle: Poseidon causes such an earthquake that even Hades notices it down below. I got this image of Hades sitting in his throne room, the ceiling trembling, and he’s just looking up and shaking his fist at his annoying relatives.
Anyway. That’s why Poseidon is called the Earthshaker!
Poseidon – sea of books (World Water Day)
(It’s more like a mess of books. Oh well.)