In ancient Greek mythology, Poseidon was the tempestuous God of the sea, horses, and earthquakes.
Eaten by his father, Cronus, at birth, he survived to help his brother Zeus overthrow his father.
While Zeus ruled from Mount Olympus, Poseidon and his trident trawled the ocean depths, using his powers to trick, beguile, and seize what he wanted.
While most people recognize Poseidon as a mighty sea god wielding a gigantic trident, Poseidon also engaged in riotous and forced sexual relationships with Demeter, Medusa, and Aphrodite.
He even fought on both sides in the Trojan War. At the same time, Poseidon waged an unsuccessful struggle with the goddess Athena to become the patron deity and titular god of the mortal city of Athens.
According to Greek mythology, Poseidon is a sea god with a ravenous appetite for women who don’t want anything to do with him.
From naughty romps and trickery to outright assaults and smashing Greek defenses during the Trojan War, these top 10 myths about Poseidon and his trident should come with a trigger warning.
Myth #1: Poseidon’s Strange Birth
With a father like Cronus, Poseidon was bound to have an epic origin story. Afraid that his children would overthrow him, just as he dethroned his father Uranus, Cronus ate Poseidon at birth.
His wife Rhea saved Zeus, her sixth child, by hiding him in a cave on a mountain.
In a desperate trick, Rhea wrapped up a stone in swaddling clothes instead of the baby. Cronus swallowed it whole. When Zeus grew up, he put on a disguise, poisoned his father’s wine, and found a way to make him drink it.
As a result, Cronus threw up Poseidon and his siblings Hera, Hestia, Demeter, and Hades.
Myth #2: Poseidon Battles Cronus
It’s clear that Zeus and his brothers had revenge planned for Cronus. After Cronus disgorged his children, full-grown, the siblings teamed up to fight Cronus and the Titans.
They waged war alongside the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes in the Battle of the Gods (Titanomachy). At the end of the war, the brothers defeated Cronus and cast lots to divide the world.
While Zeus ruled the skies as king from Mount Olympus, Hades descended to rule dead souls in the underworld, and Poseidon controlled the rivers, oceans, and seas.
Myth #3: Poseidon Rebels Against His Brother, Zeus
With rebels in the family, it was only a matter of time before another fight erupted. This time, Zeus’ harsh actions got him into trouble.
Hera, Zeus’ wife, joined Apollo, Zeus’ son by Leto, and Poseidon in a rebellion to tame the Greek god.
While Hera drugged her husband, Poseidon and Apollo tied him to his bed and stole his famous thunderbolt.
But Briareus, set from the prison in Tartarus by Zeus after the war with the Titans, overheard the gods tying Zeus to his bed. He crept in and untied Zeus.
Zeus retaliated by punishing his son and his brother. He turned Poseidon and Apollo into slaves for their role in the failed revolt and sent them off to serve King Laomedon in Troy for a year.
As slaves, the gods set to work and created the thick, impassable walls that surrounded the city of Troy.
Myth #4: Poseidon Attacks Medusa
When Poseidon turned his eyes to mortal women, that’s when the god’s antics took a darker turn.
Medusa, a beautiful priestess in the temple of Athena, caught Zeus’ eye. All priestesses had to remain virgins to serve in the goddess’s temple.
When Poseidon chased her, Medusa tried to escape by fleeing into Athena’s temple. Instead, Poseidon caught her and raped her on the temple floor.
Instead of punishing Poseidon for rape, an enraged Athena turned her anger on his victim. Although Medusa lost her purity against her will, Athena transformed her into a monster of horror and despair.
She turned Medusa’s beautiful hair into a nest of writhing, venomous snakes. Athena even made Medusa’s eyes so chilling that just looking into them would turn people into stone.
Along with her sisters, the Gorgons, Medusa retreated to a cave deep beneath Mount Olympus.
There, Medusa lived as a terrifying monster until Perseus used his shield as a mirror to sneak up on her and cut off her head.
When Perseus beheaded Medusa, Pegasus and Chrysaor, a winged horse and boar, sprang from her neck.
In a twisted way, Greek legend calls them Medusa and Poseidon’s children.
Myth #5: Poseidon Pursues Demeter
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time that Poseidon seized what he wanted from a woman. This time, Poseidon went after his sister, Demeter.
Demeter, Persephone’s mother, nourished the world as the Greek goddess of agriculture, harvest, grain, and fertile earth.
When Poseidon showed interest in her, Demeter rejected him and tried to escape by transforming into a mare.
Instead, Poseidon also shape-shifted and became a stallion. After he assaulted her, an outraged Demeter hid in a cave to purify her body.
As she washed her grief and anger away in the River Ladon, the outside world reflected her dark emotional turmoil. Crops withered. Animals died. A terrible famine crept over the land.
Myth #6: Poseidon Marries a Sea Nymph
It seems that Poseidon couldn’t get a woman without resorting to tricks. Watching Amphitrite, a Nereid or sea nymph, dance on the Isle of Naxos, Poseidon decided that he wanted a wife.
Not surprisingly, Amphitrite rejected his offer and escaped to the Atlas Mountains. When he couldn’t pursue her, Poseidon had another idea.
He sent his friend Delphin, a god who looked like a dolphin, to convince her to marry Poseidon.
After listening to the dolphin god, Amphitrite followed him back to marry the king of the sea. As a reward, Poseidon placed a constellation called Delphinus in the stars.
Myth #7: Poseidon Sets Aphrodite Free from a Net
Next, Poseidon untangled two lovers, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and Ares, the god of war, from an unpleasant situation.
While married to Hephaestus, Aphrodite had a torrid affair with Ares. When Helios, the sun god, peeped into Hephaestus’ bed chamber and spotted the two lovers, he tattled on them to Aphrodite’s husband.
Angry, Hephaestus prepared a strong, invisible net and dropped it down on the lovers the next time they met. Then Hephaestus called the gods into the room to laugh at the couple captured in the act under his net.
Because Poseidon had a lot of messy encounters, he felt bad for Ares and Aphrodite and convinced Hephaestus to set the couple free.
While Ares still had to pay a fine for adultery, Aphrodite went on to have an affair with Poseidon.
Myth #8: Poseidon and the Minotaur
In Greek mythology, Minos, king of Crete and Zeus and Europa’s son, begged Poseidon for a sign to prove his right as king.
In return, a bull from Poseidon came out of the sea. Although Minos had to sacrifice the bull in Poseidon’s honor, Minos liked the bull and couldn’t bear to kill it. Instead, he swapped the special bull out for a regular bull.
As a penalty for saving the bull, Poseidon had Pasiphae, Minos’ queen, fall in love with the bull from the sea.
When she gave birth, a terrible monster called a Minotaur – half man and half bull – emerged.
Myth #9: Poseidon vs. Athena in the Struggle for Athens
With his tricks and philandering, Poseidon also competed with Athena to become the top deity in Athens.
At the end of each calendar year, Athens held a dissolution festival. As the old year closed, each immortal battled with the other to become the city’s patron god. Each one offered a single gift to the Athenians. Then the Athenians would choose the best gift.
When Poseidon slammed his trident against the ground, a salt spring sprang up. The Athenians decided that they didn’t like salty water even if it acted as an eternal spring.
Then Athena shook her spear and revealed an olive tree. Since an olive tree could bring them fruit, oil, and wood, the Athenians chose Athena as the winner.
In revenge, Poseidon drowned the Attic plain in a monstrous flood to punish Athens for not choosing him.
Myth #10: Poseidon Takes Sides in the Trojan War
It’s not surprising that Poseidon switched sides during the epic battle between the Trojans and the Greeks known as the Trojan War.
First, Poseidon used his waves to help the Greeks fight because he hated King Laomedon who forced an enslaved Poseidon to build impenetrable walls around Troy.
At the same time, the Greeks also built a massive wall to protect their ships. Since Poseidon felt envious of the better wall, he threw his force in on the Trojan side to help them obliterate the Greek wall.
Most of the time, Poseidon’s stormy temper stayed loyal to the Greeks.
In fact, when soldiers’ morale started to waver, Poseidon went out, disguised as an ancient prophet and “bird savant” named Calchas to encourage Agamemnon and his troops to continue fighting the war.