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Zeus and Poseidon

Tales beyond belief

Zeus and Poseidon
Discover the legends and myths surrounding the gods Zeus and Poseidon. Zeus was the king of the Olympians, who ruled over the mythical world of Mount Olympus and earth. Poseidon was the brother of Zeus and the god of the sea and many myths tell of their sibling rivalry. Both of these powerful gods are featured in the stories and legends of classical Greek mythology.

Who were Zeus and Poseidon?
Who were Zeus and Poseidon? Zeus was the king of the gods and ruler of the home of the gods on the summit of Mount Olympus. Poseidon was the god of the sea, storms and earthquakes, he was called the 'Earth-Shaker'. Although Poseidon was one of the gods of Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in his watery realm. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were the three sons of the Titans Cronus and and his wife, Rhea. The brothers were victorious in the in the War with the Titans and divided up their dominions. They threw lots and Zeus became ruler of the sky or heavens, Hades  of the Underworld and Poseidon was given dominion over all water, both fresh and salt. The Olympians agreed that the earth itself would be ruled jointly, with Zeus as king. As with most brothers there was an element of rivalry. As gods they had great supernatural powers and abilities and these were used to devastating, and often cruel, degrees during their clashes which featured strongly in the legends and mythology of the Ancient Greeks.

Zeus and Poseidon
The relationship between the brothers was a turbulent one. In many respects they were total opposites so clashes and quarrels between the two brothers were inevitable. The two gods were of equal status but Zeus had the larger domain which caused Poseidon to resent his brother and was probably the main reason that he chose to inhabit his watery domain rather than living on Mount Olympus. 

Comparison between Zeus and Poseidon
A comparison of the two gods provides a fast overview of the differences, and the similarities, between the two Olympian gods:

  • They were brothers and shared the same family and heritage. Hades was the eldest, Poseidon the middle brother and Zeus was the youngest
  • Together, with other siblings the vanquished their predecessors, the Titans
  • They drew lots to decide the realms and domains they would rule
  • Zeus became god of the sky and the heavens and Poseidon the ruler of the sea and waters
  • Personalities: He was carefree, merciful and unpredictable. Poseidon was bad-tempered, moody, greedy and vengeful
  • Both gods were great womanisers and had many children who were demigods and monsters
  • The symbols of Poseidon were the trident, dolphin, horse and bull. The symbols of Zeus were the the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak tree
  • Weapons: Zeus had a lightning bolt and Poseidon carried a Triton, a powerful three-pronged fishing spear that gave Poseidon the power to raise tempests and cause earthquakes
  • Zeus resided on Mount Olympus but Poseidon preferred his sumptuous underwater palace

Mythological legends involving Zeus and Poseidon
Some of the myths and legends involving both of these gods are as follows:

  • Their mother Rhea incited the Gigantes to rebel against the Olympian gods and Zeus and Poseidon both fought and were victorious in the Battle of the Giants
  • Both gods had the power to transform their shapes, and often did so in order to complete a seduction
  • They were once rivals in love, they both wanted to marry the sea nymph Thetis - in the end they gave her to the Greek hero Peleus leading to the birth of Achilles and was one of the precipitating events in the Trojan war
  • According to Homer in the Iliad which describes the Trojan War Poseidon was on the side of the Greeks and Zeus was on the side of the Trojans
  • Zeus intimidated Poseidon who conspired with Hera and Athena to put the King of the gods into chains - the conspiracy failed
  • According to Homer in the Iliad which describes the Trojan War Poseidon was on the side of the Greeks and Zeus was on the side of the Trojans
  • When Zeus abducted Europa, Poseidon calmed the waves of the sea to help Zeus, trying to escape
Gods and Deities
Poseidon, god of the sea
Zeus, King of the gods
Greek Gods and Goddesses

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