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date: 27 February 2021


  • Michael H. Jameson


‘All men call Poseidon god of the sea, of *earthquakes, and of horses’, wrote *Pausanias (3) (7. 21. 7) in the 2nd cent. ce, describing the three principal aspects of one of the most widely, and anciently, worshipped of the Greek gods. Pausanias' term for god of the sea, pelagaios, is descriptive, not cultic, but his epithets for the earthquake god, Asphaleios, ‘He who keeps things steady’, and god of horses, Hippios, were common cult titles. In the form Posedaon (= Ποσειδάων, as in epic poetry) he is attested on Mycenaean tablets from the palace archives at *Cnossus on Crete and at Pylos in Messenia, where there are more references to him than to any other divinity (see mycenaean language; pre-alphabetic scripts (greece)); he has a sanctuary (Posidaion) and Posidawes (cult personnel?), while a female figure, Posideia, owes her name to him. His local importance at Pylos is reflected in *Homer's Odyssey (3.

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