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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: October 2010
  • First published in: 1907

CHAPTER III - THE IDEAL OF POSEIDON

Summary

Among the surviving creations of Greek religious art the figure of Poseidon is not one of the first importance, perhaps owing to the accident of loss, as we know it was occasionally the theme of the great sculptors and painters. In the anthropomorphic imagination of Homer, the two brother divinities, Zeus and Poseidon, were characteristically distinguished; the latter is marked by a certain ruggedness and violence in demeanour and action, as if his divinity, stately as it appears at times, was usually the manifestation of physical rather than mental power. There is a subtle expression of this distinction in the lines that speak of the countenance and eyes as the salient features of Zeus, but the broad chest as Poseidon's. It is probable that the same idea dominated the types of the advanced periods of art, while a close resemblance was always maintained between the forms of the two personalities. The archaic age could only distinguish them by means of external symbols or inscriptions. The most interesting representations of Poseidon belonging to the art of the sixth century are among the ex-voto terracottas from Corinth in Berlin, some representing him in peaceful attitudes, either driving in a chariot with Amphitrite or standing by her side in hieratic pose before Hermes, holding a tunny-fish and trident (Pl. iii a); one in violent action charging with the trident (Pl. iii b), as we see him, also in a dedicatory bronze of nearly the same period from Chalkis, now in Berlin.