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