The Ancient Library

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Isthmus. Owing to the great diffusion of his worship through all the Greek races of the mother-country, as well as of the colo­nies, he plays a chief part in Greek legend, appearing as early as the Trojan story, in which he stands on the side of the Greeks in irreconcilable wrath against Troy, on account of the deception practised on him

•by Laomedon. Similarly Odysseus cannot

•be protected from his rage on account of the blinding of his son Polyphemus, except by the unanimous will of the other gods. The unruly wildness of the sea, which is reflected in his character, appears also frequently in his sons, such as Orion, Polyphemus, Cycnus, Antaeus, Biisiris, Amycus, Cercyon, and others. But he was also deemed to be the


ancestor of numerous noble families, especi­ally of the Ionian race, which from old times worshipped him as a national god, and from their home on the north coast of the Pelo­ponnesus carried his worship over with them to Asia. Here, in his chief sanctuary, on the promontory of Mycale, the lonians cele­brated their national festival, the Panionia. From the Ionian race and its representative, Theseus, arose also the national festival of Poseidon observed by all Greece at the Corinthian Isthmus, where the Isthmian

games were celebrated in alternate years. The Greeks, after their victory over the Persians, set up a bronze colossus more than 10.7 feet high in honour of the Isthmian god [Herod., ix 81].

The horse, the dolphin, and the pine tree were deemed sacred to Poseidon; it was with wreaths of pine that the victors in the Isthmian games were crowned. He was worshipped with human sacrifices, but more generally with sacrifices of horses and bulls, especially black ones; these were not unfrequently hurled alive into rivers. Besides horse-races, bull-fights were held in his honour. His temples were usually to be found on promontories, isthmuses, and tongues of land. His usual attributes were the trident and the dolphin, and also the tunny-fish. He was represented as a power­ful, kingly man, like Zeus, but without his exalted calm, more compact in figure, and with thicker and curlier hair on his head. He is draped sometimes in a long robe, sometimes with a light scarf, which allows his powerful frame to be more fully dis-plaved (see cut). Colossal statues of him often stood by harbours and on promontories. With Poseidon the Romans identified their sea-god Neptunus (g.v.).

Poseidonius. A Greek philosopher; a native of Apamea, in Syria, born about 135 B.C , from his later place of residence gene­rally called the Rhodian. He was the most distinguished pupil of the Stoic Pftnsetius, whose instruction he enjoyed at Athens, and the most scientific and most learned among the later Stoics. After an extended scientific journey in western Europe, he accepted the direction of the Stoic school at Rhodes, where he took part in public affairs with such success that his fellow citizens made him prytanis, and in 86 sent him as envoy to Rome. From this time he remained in continual friendly intercourse with Romans of distinction, especially Cicero and Pompeius [Cic., Ad Att. ii 1 § 2, Tusc. Disp. ii 61]. He died at the age of 84. His literary labours were very extensive. Besides numerous philosophical treatises, he composed mathematical and astronomical writings, and a great his­torical and £ceoo:rrtphical work in 52 books as a continuation of Pfilyhms. [He is fre­quently quoted by Stiabo, e.y. pp. 147, 182, 215, 209, 757.] the substance of the Tac­tics of his pupil Asclepiodotus seems to have been derived from his discourses. [See Cicero, dc Natura Deorum, «d. JT B. Mayor, II, p. xvi ff.]

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