Ἐννοσίγαιε & ἵππων τε δμητῆρ: Richard Armitage and Poseidon

“Earth Shaker” and “Tamer of Horses” are two of the most common epithets of the Greek god Poseidon.  Among the first generation of Olympian gods, Poseidon is a brother to the king of the gods, Zeus.  When he, Zeus and their other brother Hades drew lots to divvy up the cosmos, Poseidon drew the sea.


This spectacular, bronze (a bit over life size at 6’10” – 209cm) of a bearded male god dating to around 460 BC is an excellent example of the early Classical “Severe Style.”  Debate on his identity has raged since the late 1920’s when he was discovered on the sea bed off the coast of Cape Artemision.  The position of his left hand indicates that he would have originally held something, but whether that something was a thunderbolt of Zeus or a trident of Poseidon is lost to time.  The debate rages on, but he is quite commonly identified as a Poseidon simply because he was found in the sea.

Mentions of the name Poseidon exist as early as the late Bronze Age in the Linear B texts of the Mycenaean Greeks…although the deity seems to have been connected to the underworld rather than the sea.  By the time Greece recovered from its dark age, Poseidon had emerged as a full fledged sea god of great importance to the resurgent maritime culture of the Greeks who prayed to him to watch over them at sea.  He was the patron divinity of numerous Greek city states and was second only to Athena in importance in Athens as a civic deity.  The “earth shaker” was ever present in a region regularly touched by earthquakes.  I’ve always found it rather interesting that this aquatic god was also commonly associated with something so connected to the land as horses.  The “tamer of horses,” then taught that skill to mankind.

I think Poseidon may be the only Olympian I’ve left untouched after two years – not surprising that I struggled to find some usable parallels between the god of the sea and the dude who dislikes deep water!  But then lo and behold, along came Pilgrimage…which appears to be a kind of medieval road trip movie tracing the journey to carry a holy relic from Ireland to Rome.

Any way you slice it, a medieval journey from Ireland to anywhere in continental Europe required crossing water, and, where there are swords in medieval Europe, there are usually horses, so Poseidon nicely fits the bill for a little pagan production blessing…call it “covering all the bases”  🙂

It certainly looks as if at least part of the Pilgrimage cast is getting ready to get wet….

Hard to say right now if Richard Armitage will be on the boat, but I’m just guessing the water crossing will not be a calm one. (that would be kind of boring wouldn’t it?)  I think an homage to the god of the sea is well in order to ward of monk tossing waves.  As to the “tamer of horses”?   I’d bet there’ll be some horse “taming” going on in this film as well…it’s an awfully long walk across Europe after all!

There's not a horse scene in The Red Dragon is there?

There’s not a horse scene in The Red Dragon is there?

Where’s the Ἐννοσίγαιος you ask?  I really hope there’s no sign of the “earth shaker” personality of Poseidon in the near future!



15 comments on “Ἐννοσίγαιε & ἵππων τε δμητῆρ: Richard Armitage and Poseidon

  1. linnetmoss says:

    If anyone can make the earth move, it is he 🙂

  2. Servetus says:

    If only we were able to excavate statue of Richard Armitage like that one — actually they do look quite a bit alike. But can you imagine? Not a rock in the US would remain unturned … 🙂

  3. Perry says:

    Sea horses? Anyway, that sculpture stirs me – what’s with the hair? A garland or fancy curls?

    • obscura says:

      Hippocampus 😉 He’s incredible isn’t he? He has all the bells and whistles including silver accented eyebrows and copper highlighted nipples.

      Those are definitely fancy curls on his head and beard, which were pretty popular at his date.

      • Oh my! I thought you were talking about RA–until you brought in the metal elements. LOL! And were my mind did wander. Sighhhh! I’m a big fan of the muscular broad shoulders and clavical–on RA. IMHO, they could win architectuRAl perfection awards. Sighhh again! Ha!

  4. Guylty says:

    Copper accented nipples? Boy, oh boy, those Greeks were pervy. Or maybe perky? I scrolled back and forth between Poseidon and horse-back RA to compare thighs. Yeah, I really think RA should play Poseidon in a nice little Greek drama. Or if that doesn’t float the boat of furture producers, maybe someone could come up with a script for a drama set in ancient times, involving the adventures of the Adonis of a man who was the model for the sculptors *prompts*

    • obscura says:

      Hehe…yeah, it sounds more “exotic” (?) than it probably was. The remains of greek culture have this sort of monochromatic vibe that is really appealing to the modern eye…the contrast between the whit marble and the blue sky/sea hits right on our aesthetic soft spot. It’s misleading though because indications are the ancient Greeks like a bit more color…a whole lot more actually. It seems likely that most stone sculpture was accented with brightly painted details. Paint and bronze don’t play nicely, so a viable alternative to break up a monochromatic bronze was to add details in colored metals. (Apparently, nipples bear highlighting!)

      RA totally fits the style doesn’t he? Paint him green and he could be a living model ;). I’d love to see him do a classical themed piece – if ever there was a not atrocious script to be had!

      • Hariclea says:

        i hope so too, but can we have unoxidised bronze please instead of that green tint? 😉 they can paint the nipples however 😉 God those Greeks very pervy! lol

        • obscura says:

          I have never seen a Greek bronze that wasn’t oxidized green (very handy in excavation since green coming up is a dead giveaway of the proximity of something bronze)

          I would love to see one of these gorgeous pieces replicated in the original finish for contrast!

  5. […] of Richard Armitage characterizations to those of the male Olympian deities….Ares, Hades, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Apollo, Apollo, Apollo…as well as a few heroes and demigods along the way. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s