Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily
3.9 Poseidon (Neptune) 

Bronze statue depicting Poseidon, known as "of Capo Artemisio", XNUMXth century. BC Athens, National Archaeological Museum

Origins of the Myth

Identified with the Roman Neptune, Poseidon belongs, according to Greek mythology, to the caste of the Olympic gods.

Son of Sale need Cronos, is brother of Zeus need Pluto, with whom he shares the dominion of the earth. Zeus is considered the master of the sky, Pluto the master of the underworld and Poseidon the master of the sea. It can trigger thunderstorms and even earthquakes that it causes by hammering the seabed with its trident and is often represented armed with a trident, a weapon used by tuna fishermen. Tuna is, in fact, one of its attributes.

It is often seen represented on a cart pulled by horses, sometimes replaced by monstrous animals, half men and half snakes and the cart is surrounded by fish, dolphins and marine creatures of all kinds.

Neptune on the chariot pulled by seahorses. Mosaic, XNUMXrd cent. d. C., from the villa of the Uadi Blibane.
(Sousse, Tunisia, Archaeological Museum).

The figure of Poseidon is linked to that of the horse, for this reason it can be hypothesized that perhaps it was not originally a sea god; in fact, before him, Oceano and Nereus were considered sea divinities. He is therefore also considered the lord of horses and is credited with the invention of horse racing. Other elements link it to horses. The sea, of which he is the lord, is, in fact, populated by beings with equine features: just think of the half-horse and half-fish seahorses; one of the many sons of Poseidon is the horse Arion had from a relationship with Demeter. What characterized the myth of Poseidon is the large number of loves and children attributed to him; however, unlike the sons of Zeus who were considered benevolent heroes, his sons, as well as those of Ares, were evil and evil. Among his innumerable offspring, they are to be remembered: the cyclops Polyphemus who was blinded by Ulysses, the giant Chrysaore, the brigand Sciron killed by Teseo, the hunter Orione and the children they had from Alia of Rhodes who tried to rape their mother and which Poseidon, with a blow of his trident, made the earth swallow.

The myth in Sicily

 The cult of the god of the sea could certainly not be missing in a place surrounded by the sea like Sicily. Here he is considered the father of Trinaco, the oldest king of Sicily, but also of the king Siculo. The legendary people of the Laestrygonians, which would have populated Sicily in the most remote times, is considered his descendant.

There are traces of the cult of Poseidon a SIRACUSA, Selinunte e Messina; in the latter city, according to what was narrated by Diodorus Siculus (lib. IV.85), a temple in his honor would have been erected by his son Orione.

The discovery of coins depicting the divinity would attest to the presence of the cult also in other Sicilian cities such as Catania, Tindari, Palermo e Lipari [1].


[1] Ciaceri Emanuele: Cults and Myths of Ancient Sicily. p.186.

- Louvre Museum - Paris

Ignazio Caloggero


Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily by Ignazio Caloggero

Poseidon - Neptune



Share / Share