Like his brother Zeus, Poseidon had many mistresses and dozens of children. Not all of them are as well-known as his nieces and nephews, however.
Poseidon’s children were minor gods, nymphs, and mortal kings. Few had the heroic status of Zeus’s most famous sons, but many left their mark on Greek mythology in some way.
Some of Poseidon’s mythical children were more unusual, however. Unlike Zeus, Poseidon had many offspring who were neither human nor divine.
Both gods fathered children who were gods of malevolent forces, but many of Poseidon’s children seemed to have no trace of divinity. They included giants and even animals.
So who were the children of Poseidon? Their myths are among the most varied in Greek lore!
Poseidon’s wife was the Nereid Amphitrite. She was only named as the mother of a few of his children, however.
Their son Triton was a sea god as well. He was usually shown with a fish tail and acted as his father’s herald.
They also had two daughters. Rhodos was the goddess of the island of Rhodes. She married Helios, the sun god.
Benthesicyme was fostered in Africa. She married the king of Ethiopia, a term which could mean all of Africa in Greek literature.
A few sources also claimed that the sea god Proteus was a son of Poseidon and, most likely, Amphitrite. Others, however, believed that he was a more ancient sea god who was unrelated to Poseidon.
Aeolus, the keeper of the winds, was sometimes said to be the son of Poseidon. His mother in those stories was Arne, who also had a mortal son called Boeotus. Through her sons, she was the mother of the Aeolian and Boeotian peoples.
A few writers claimed that Aphrodite was the mother of some of Poseidon’s children. Some said that Rhodos was actually her daughter, and that they had another nymph daughter called Herophile.
Cymopoleia married a storm giant. She was the nymph of the violent storm waves generated by her husband, Briareos.
Not all of Poseidon’s divine offspring were benevolent gods, however. He was said to be the father of two groups of more evil types of spirits.
The Telchines were a group of four sea-gods who were skilled smiths and sorcerers. While they made some amazing creations, such as the sickle that was used to castrate Uranus, Zeus banished them to Tartarus for their harmful use of magic.
Closely related to them were the Daimones Proseoous, or Eastern Demons. They were a group of six malevolent spirits who haunted the caves along the coast of Rhodes.
While it would be expected that the god of the sea would have many children who were gods and nymphs, even malevolent ones, Poseidon also had a surprising number of children who were giants.
The most famous of these were the three cyclopes brothers met by Odysseus and his crew in Homer’s Odyssey. Polyphemus and his brothers lived a wild, uncivilized life on an otherwise uninhabited island.
Another famous giant son of Poseidon was Orion, who famously hunted alongside Artemis. While not all myths agreed that the hunter was one of Orion’s sons, many credited this ancestry with his legendary ability to walk on water.
One of Poseidon’s more mysterious giant sons was Chrysaor. Born from Medusa’s neck when she was killed, the golden giant was much less well-attested than his brother Pegasus.
The Aloadae were two giant brothers, Otus and Ephialtes. Although they were considered noble and handsome, the Aloadae met an ignoble end when they attempted to storm Olympus and fight the gods at just nine years old.
Even more wicked was Laestrygon. He founded an entire tribe of savage, man-eating giants.
Antaeus was a giant who became the king of Libya. He was infamous for killing travelers to his country so he could use their skulls to construct a temple in his father’s honor.
Few other gods had children as monstrous and barbaric as some of Poseidon’s giant offspring. Like other sea gods, his children could be both noble and unbelievably cruel.
Poseidon’s brother Zeus was the father of many of mythology’s greatest heroes. Famous figures like Heracles, Perseus, and the Dioscuri were his sons.
Poseidon, on the other hand, had very few sons who were counted among the great heroes of Greece.
His most famous heroic son was Theseus. According to legend, Theseus was the son of both Poseidon and King Aegeas of Athens.
[Aegeas] continued without an heir, and in fear of his brothers he went to Pythia and asked about having children. The god’s response was as follows: ‘Noblest of men, do not loosen the tumid neck of your wineskin until you reach the heights of Athens.’ Confused by this oracle, Aegeas left again for Athens. He went through Troizenos and stayed with Pelops’ son Pittheus, who figured out the oracle [promising Aegeas a son] and put him to bed with his daughter Aithra. On the same night Poseidon also had intercourse with Aithra … Aithra did bear Aegeas a son, named Theseus.
-Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 208 (trans. Aldrich)
As a teenager, Theseus traveled to Athens to claim his place as the king’s son. While he was recognized as the heir of Aegeas, fewer people were convinced that he was descended from the god of the sea.
In one story, for example, Minos refused to believe that Theseus was the son of a god. He said that if Theseus was, in fact, Poseidon’s son, he would be able to dive into the sea to retrieve a ring that Minos threw into the water.
Theseus not only retrieved the ring, but he returned with further proof of his divine heritage. Amphitrite and the nymphs of the sea gave him a golden, jewel-encrusted crown to show their favor.
Some people claimed that the hero Bellerophon was also a son of Poseidon. Others said that he was fully human but had been granted the god’s favor.
Bellerophon was closely linked to Poseidon in the story of the slaying of the Chimera. He was only able to kill the monster because he had been able to tame Pegasus, another of Poseidon’s children, and use the riding equipment invented by Poseidon and Athena.
Like many of Poseidon’s children, however, Bellerophon ultimately became disliked by the gods. Zeus struck him down when he arrogantly attempted to fly to Mount Olympus and join the company of the gods without being invited by them.
A common theme in Greek mythology was that many kings and lords claimed descent from the gods. Poseidon was one of the deities who was often named as an ancestor of Greece’s noble families.
This motif served two purposes in legitimizing these men.
Divine ancestry helped to explain the nobility of these men and legitimize their claims to power. Having a god as an ancestor made men more fit to rule.
In the Greek way of thinking, virtue was a trait that was passed down genetically. The sons of gods like Poseidon were more fit to rule because they inherited some measure of nobility, wisdom, and leadership from their father.
The founding legends of ancient Greece also included many stories of incredible feats. The sons of gods had abilities beyond those of ordinary men so they could accomplish acts of great heroism, strength, or fighting prowess.
Additionally, naming a king as the son of a god was thought to grant the god’s favor to the entire city, not just his family line. While the descendants of that king could petition their ancestor for special favor or protection, residents of the cities those kings founded believed they could do the same.
Often, the divine ancestor of a founding king became the patron of a city. Because it had been ruled or established by one of their children, they would be more concerned with protecting it from danger and promoting its prosperity.
Among the legendary kings said to have been sons of Poseidon were:
- Achaeus – The king of Siconia, in southern Greece, gave his name to the Achaean tribes of the region.
- Dictys and Polydectes – According to some writers, the king of Sarpedon, Polydectes, was a son of Poseidon. When he was killed by Perseus for trying to force Danae to marry him, his brother Dictys took the throne and ruled well.
- Eleus – The first king of Elis, who gave the city its name, was a son of Poseidon.
- Euphemus – One of the Argonauts and a member of the Calydonian Hunt, he was a lord of Boeotia.
- Hippothoon – A hero of Attica, he is often said to have been a king of Eleusis.
- Chios – The first king of the island by the same name.
- Phaeax – He was the first king and namesake of the Phaeacians of the island of Corcyra.
- Lelex – The first king of Megara was born in the land of Libya, but moved to Greece to found his city.
- Minyas – One of the wealthiest men in mythology, as the ancestor of the Minyan people many rulers of Boeotia claimed descent from him.
- Neleus – He became king of Pylos after being banished from his home city by his twin brother. His son Nestor became one of the Argonauts.
- Pelias – The twin brother of Neleus, he seized the throne of Iolcus from his half-brother Aeson. He then sent Aeson’s son Jason on the quest for the Golden Fleece to earn his kingdom back.
- Pelasgus – He was the first king of the most ancient tribe of Greece, the Pelasgians of Arcadia.
Agenor and Belus – Poseidon had two kings with Libya, an African queen. Agenor became the
The importance of divine lineage was seen to apply not only to the kings of Greece. Foreign kings were also said to be descended from the gods.
The Greek people believed that their gods were the true powers of the universe. Rather than dismissing foreign gods as false, however, they thought that other people worshipped the same gods under different names.
When other cultures had their own legends of divine kings, therefore, the Greeks retold these stories to center around their own gods.
Naming Poseidon and other gods also created connections between Greece and its neighbors. These were used to explain the contemporary relationships between the cultures, whether they were positive trading relationships or more antagonistic.
Many of Poseidon’s sons and grandsons, for example, were kings of various African kingdoms.
One of Poseidon’s lovers was Libya, the daughter of Egypt’s first king. She was the queen of North Africa.
Two of Libya’s sons became important kings. They spread the lineage of Poseidon even farther.
Belus took his grandfather’s position as the king of Egypt. He may have been the same as Busiris, a wicked mythical king who sacrificed visitors to the gods.
Belus’s rule was not noteworthy, but his sons were. Aegyptus gave his name to his father’s country while Danaus ruled Libya and eventually returned the family line to Greece.
Poseidon’s other son with Libya, meanwhile, established the Phoenician capital of Tyre. This gave Greece a link to another of its earliest trading partners.
Among the children of Agenor, the Phoenician king, were Europa and Cadmus. Poseidon was thus a direct ancestor of both the first Minoan and Mycenaean kings.
Later, Poseidon would become the father of another Libyan queen. Lamia was turned into a monster by Hera, however, as punishment for her affair with Zeus.
Several Thracian rulers were also said to have been Poseidon’s sons. The Greeks saw Thrace as a culture that was barbaric but closely intertwined with their own history, and its kings were also both noble and savage.
One famous king of Thrace was Phineus, who some sources said was Poseidon’s son. Zeus blinded him for revealing the gods’ secrets, but he was eventually freed of his torment by the Harpies when the Argonauts intervened on his behalf.
Poltys and his brother Sarpedon, both sons of Poseidon, showed the conflicting views of Thrace. While King Poltys welcomed Heracles with honor and respect, Sarpedon was killed for being belligerent toward the hero.
Cycnus was a king of Asia Minor who sided with his father’s enemies in the Trojan War. Despite Poseidon’s support of the Greek forces, Cycnus fought on behalf of Troy.
Despite this, however, he still received some blessings from his father. Like Achilles, he had been made invulnerable to weapons. Achilles eventually managed to kill him through suffocation.
Poseidon’s sons were even kings of legendary places.
One of his famous sons was Atlas, the high king and namesake of the city of Atlantis.
According to Plato, Atlantis actually had ten kings. Atlas was the highest-ranking and his nine brothers ruled under him.
The couple who originally inhabited the island died, leaving behind their daughter Cleito. She became Poseidon’s mistress and gave birth to five sets of twin boys. The ten brothers built Atlantis into a powerful and advanced culture.
Poseidon had children that were human, divine, and even giants. Not all of his children were even remotely human, however.
One of Poseidon’s roles in Greek mythology was as the creator of horses. The movement of the sea and the rumbling of earthquakes were both likened to galloping horses.
Many of Poseidon’s myths referenced his role as the horse god. On some occasions, he took the form of a horse to pursue the women he desired.
One such case was his own sister, the goddess Demeter. Although she turned into a mare to try to hide from him, Poseidon found her and fathered two children with her.
Despoina was a beautiful goddess, although some people believed that she had been born in the form of a horse and later transformed. Her brother Arion, however, was always in the form of a horse.
Arion was immortal and said to be the fastest horse that ever lived. He was given to Heracles by the gods and later to the hero Adrastus.
More famous, however, was Pegasus. The legendary winged horse was the child of Poseidon and the monster Medusa.
Pegasus and Chrysaor, the golden giant, were born from Medusa’s neck when she was beheaded by Perseus. Pegasus flew wild until he was tamed by Bellerophon.
Later stories explained why Poseidon had children with a monster by claiming that Medusa had once been beautiful. Earlier versions of the tale, however, did not offer such an explanation.
Another of Poseidon’s children shared the flying abilities of Pegasus but did not take the form of Poseidon’s favorite animal.
Chrysomallos was a golden ram who had the power of flight and the ability to speak like a human. The ram was most well-known for rescuing the children of Nephele, the cloud nymph, from their murderous stepmother.
When Nephele’s son arrived safely in the kingdom of Colchis, on the far coast of the Black Sea, he sacrificed the ram in thanks to the gods. Chrysomallos was immortalized as the constellation Aries.
Years later, the ram’s fleece remained in the grove of Ares in Colchis. It was the object of Jason’s quest; the golden fleece that he was instructed to bring back to Greece.
The Greek gods were often known for having many children. Zeus famously fathered dozens, possibly hundreds, of sons and daughters with his mistresses.
His brother Poseidon was no less prolific. The god of the sea’s children may not have all been as high-profile as their cousins, but they were nearly as numerous.
Poseidon’s divine children were minor gods and goddesses, usually representing some aspect of the sea. His daughter Rhodos, the namesake of Rhodes, was notable for marrying Helios, but others were rarely mentioned at all.
Most of his human children were also less well-known. They included many kings of both Greece and foreign lands, but their myths are generally not as famous as many others.
Two notable exceptions were the great heroes Bellerophon and Theseus. Although their parentage was sometimes disputed, either in the historical record or within the text of their myths, they were widely regarded as sons of Poseidon.
He was also the father to the ten kings of Atlantis, the lost civilization that featured in the writings of Plato.
Not all of Poseidon’s children were either human or divine, though. Unlike Zeus, he had offspring with more varied forms.
Poseidon was the father of several giants, including the cyclops who was blinded by Odysseus. Some, like this cyclops, were villainous, but others like Orion were on good terms with the gods.
He also had a few children who were born as animals. The immortal horses Arion and Pegasus were among these, as was the golden ram Chrysomallos.
The myths of Poseidon’s children may not all be as famous as those of the other gods’ offspring, but he was still regarded as a major progenitor in Greek mythology. He was the ancestor of many kings, tribes, gods, and magical creatures of legend.