Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/184

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
170
POSEN

fountains to spring from them. But, while he caused storms and shipwrecks, he could also send favouring winds; hence he was known as Solér, “the preserver.” Another of his titles was Gaeeochos, “ the supporter of earth, ” the sea being supposed to support the earth and keep it firmly in its place. He was the god of navigation and his temples stood especially on headlands and isthmuses. Every occupation connected with the sea was under his protection, and seafaring people, especially the Ionians, regarded themselves as his descendants. As god of the sea he disputed with other deities for the possession of the land. Earthquakes were thought to be produced by Poseidon shaking the earth-hence his epithet of Euosichthon, “ Earth-shaker ”and hence he was worshipped even in inland places which had suffered from earthquakes. The seismic wave was also his work; the destruction of Helice in Achaea by such a wave (373 B.C.) was attributed to his wrath (Strabo viii. 384). The island of Delos was thought to have been raised by him, and about 198, when a new island appeared between Thera and Therasia, the Rhodians founded a temple of Poseidon on it (Strabo i. 57). Thessaly was said to have been a lake until he opened a way for the waters through the Vale of Tempe (Herodotus vii. 129). Poseidon was also the god of springs, which he produced by striking the rock with his trident, as he did on the acropolis of Athens when disputing with Athena for the sovereignty of Athens (Herodotus viii. 55; Apollodorus iii. 14). As such he was called N ymphagctes, the leader of the nymphs of springs and fountains, a god of fresh water, probably his original character, and in this Connexion was ¢U7'é.)}J.LOS' (phytalmius), a god of vegetation, frequently associated with Demeter. In regard to the contest with Athena, it is probable that Poseidon is really Erechthcus, a local deity ousted by Athena and transformed into an agricultural hero. Dr Farnell, however, holds that Ercchtheus and Poseidon were originally independent hgures, and that both Erechtheus and Athena were prior to Poseidon, As he gave, so he could withhold, springs of water; thus the waterless neighbourhood of Argos was supposed to be the result of his anger. Black bulls, symbolical of the stormy sea, were sacrificed to him, and often thrown alive into rivers; in Ionia and Thessaly bull-fights took place in his honour; at a festival of his at Ephesus the cup bearers were called “ bulls, ” and the god himself was surnamed “ Bull Poseidon.” The horse was especially associated with his worship; he was said to have produced the first horse by striking the ground in Thessaly with his trident (Virgil, Georgics, i. 12). At the fountain of Dine in Argolis horses bitted and bridled were sacrificed to him by being drowned (Pausanias viii. 7, 2), and similarly Sextus Pompeius sought to propitiate him by throwing horses into the sea (Dio Cassius xlviii. 48). He bore the surname of “ Horse Neptune” (Hoaerééu ifvrvrws), and was regarded as the tamer as well as the creator of the steed. In the deme of Colonus he was worshipped with Athena, the reputed inventor of the bridle. Various explanations of the title Z-/r1rtos have been given: (1) that the horse represented the corn-spirit; (2) the resemblance of the crested waves to horses; (3) the impression of horses' hoofs near the god's sacred springs, and the shaking of the earth by them when galloping (see Farnell, Cults of the Greek Slates, iv. 20). Poseidon plays a-considerable part in Greek legend. In the Trojan War he takes the side of the Greeks, because he had been cheated of his reward by Laomedon, king of Troy, for whom 'he had built the walls of the city. The binding of his son Polyphemus by Odysseus brings upon the hero the wrath of Poseidon, from which he is only protected by the united influence of the rest of the gods. He is famous for his numerous amours, especially with the nymphs of springs and fountains; his offspring were mostly wild and cruel, like the sea-the Laestrygones, Polyphemus, Antaeus, Procrustes and the like. He was worshipped as a national god by the Ionians, who took his worship over with them from Peloponnesus to Asia Minor. His chief sanctuary'was at Mycale, where the Panionia, the national festival of the Ionians, was held. Other seats of his worship were in Thessaly, Boeotia and Peloponnesus. At Taenarum in Laconia he had a famous cave-like temple, with an asylum, and on the island of Tenos he was worshipped as the physician, probably in reference to the health-giving properties of the sea air. By far the most famous of his festivals was that celebrated every alternate year on the isthmus of Corinth, at which the “ Isthmian games ” were held. Here a colossal statue of him was set up in bronze by the Greeks after their victory over the Persians. The horse, the dolphin (the symbol of the calm sea) and the pine-tree, with wreaths of which the Isthmian victors were crowned, were sacred to him. Horses and black bulls, boars and rams were offered to him, sometimes human beings. His attributes are the trident and the dolphin (sometimes the tunny fish.) V

As represented in art Poseidon resembles Zeus, but possesses less of his majestic calm, his muscles are more emphasized, and his hair is thicker and somewhat dishevelled. He is generally naked; his right leg rests on a rock or the prow of a ship; he carries a trident in his hand, and is gazing in front of him, apparently out to sea; sometimes he is standing on the water, swinging his trident, or riding in his chariot over the waves, accompanied by his wife Amphitrite, the Nereids and other inhabitants of the sea. It is in keeping with his restless character that he is rarely found sitting. He sometimes wears a long robe, sometimes a light scarf. Scopas, in a famous group, represented him surrounded by the denizens of the sea, escorting Achilles to the islands of the blest. In modern Greece St Nicholas has taken the place of Poseidon as patron of sailors. But the Zacynthians have a special seagod, half man, half fish, who dwells under the sea, rides on dolphins or in a car drawn by dolphins, and wields a trident. By the Romans Poseidon was identified with Neptune (q.v.).

See E. Gerhard, U ber Ursprung, Wesen und Geltung des Poseidon (1851), with references to authorities in conveniently arranged notes; Preller-Robert, Griechische Mythologie (1894); O. Gruppe, Griechische lily/fhologie (1906), vol. ii.; and especially L. R. F arnell, Cults of the Greek States (1907), vol. iv., where special attention is drawn to the ethnological aspect of the cult of Poseidon.


POSEN, an eastern province of the kingdom of Prussia, in the German Empire, bounded N. by the Prussian province of West Prussia, E. by Russian Poland and S. and W. respectively by the Prussian provinces of Silesia and Brandenburg. Its area is 11,186 sq. m. and the population shows a density of 177-5 inhabitants to the square mile. Posen belongs to the north German plain, and consists of a low plateau intersected by the beds of the Netze, the Warthe and the Obra. These three rivers drain into the Oder, but part of the province falls within the basin of the Vistula, which forms the frontier for a short distance on the north-east. By means of the Brornberger canal the Netze is joined with the Brake and then through this river with the Vistula. The surface is dotted with small lakes and ponds, and there are many broad fens and marshes. The soil is light and sandy, but much of the land reclaimed in the boggy districts is very fertile. Upwards of 61% of the area is under tillage, 13% is occupied by pasture and meadows and 20% by forests, mostly fir. The principal crops are rye, the chief cereal grown, wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, beets and hops. The vine is cultivated to some extent in the south-west corner, and tobacco is also grown. The marshy tracts often afford excellent pasture and support large numbers of cattle, sheep and goats. The mineral resources of the province are practically restricted to lignite and salt. Besides brewing and distilling, the chief products are machinery, sugar, cloth, tobacco and bricks. Trade in timber and agricultural produce is facilitated by the network of railways, navigable rivers and canals, but both industry and trade are somewhat cramped by the duties imposed at the Russian frontier. The population of the province in 1905 was 1,986,637, including 1,347,958 Roman Catholics, 605,312 Protestants and 30,433 Jews. The Roman Catholics are mainly Poles, of whom there are upwards of 1,000,000 in Posen, while the great bulk of the 900,000 Germans are Protestants. About 57% of the population was returned in 1905 as “ rural, ” in spite of the large number of so-called “ towns, ” only five of which, however, have more than 20,000 inhabitants-Posen, Bromberg, Hohensalza, Gnesen and Schneidemiihl. The province of Posen was long the worst-educated part of the German dominions, but of recent years this blemish has been removed. Thus while in 1882-1883 the ratio of illiterate recruits amounted to 9'75(%, , in 1901 less oae quarter per cent of