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Poseidon – One of the 12 Olympians

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Temple of Poseidon under sunset sky, Cap Sunion, Greece

In Greek myth Poseidon is the son of the Titan Cronus and Titaness Rhea, the brother of Hades and Zeus. Originally the god of earthquakes and violent acts of nature, he became the god of the sea and is usually depicted with a trident. He is one of the 12 Olympians of ancient Greece (master gods who reside on Mount Olympus). His Roman equivalent is Neptune.

Poseidon is said to have watched over the oracle at Delphi before Apollo replaced him as caretaker. Poseidon was also held responsible for inflicting certain mental and physical diseases, such as epilepsy. It was quite common in the ancient world to attribute disease to the wrath of the gods, the attack of evil powers, or as a punishment for some kind of offense.

In the ancient world, supernatural punishment for an offense wasn’t necessarily just. Christian theologians often say that the pagan gods do not mete out constructive punishment, tailored for a sinner’s salvation, as does the monotheistic God of Christian scripture. Rather, the pagan gods are often petty and vengeful, even irrational. On this point, it’s hard to argue otherwise; many examples can be found throughout ancient mythology.

In popular culture the blockbuster film The Poseidon Adventure (1972) portrayed the fictional story of a vintage luxury liner that turns turtle when hit by a huge wave en route to Athens.

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