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Pelops & Poseidon
(myth) Greece




Poseidon is the Greek god (called Neptun by the Romans), brother of Zeus and Pluto. The brothers dethroned their father Cronos, and divided his realm, Poseidon taking the sea. he was also worshipped as god of earthquakes.

Pelops was the son of Tantalus, king of Sipylus, who was a son of Zeus, and also a great friend of his. The king of the gods confided many secrets in him, and often invited him up to Mount Olympus at banquet time, to partake of divine nectar and ambrosia.

One time, having invited the gods to a feast in his home and finding his larder low on provisions, he thought up a trick to test their wisdom: he had his son, Pelops, whose name means "Muddy Face", cut into pieces and boiled in the stew.

Having punished the father, Zeus set upon the task of restoring the son to life. He ordered Hermes to gather all the pieces, and to return them to the cauldron, upon which he laid a spell. There they were set to boil again, and the Fate Klotho joined the pieces back together. Rhea, the mother of all the gods, breathed new life into him.

Pelops rose renewed from the clean cauldron, and though he had been handsome before, his beauty was now beyond compare. Poseidon, the god of the seas, saw the radiant boy and instantly fell in love with him. His heart broken by desire, he ran after the lad, lifted him into his chariot drawn by golden horses, and took him up to Mount Olympus.

Up on Mount Olympus Poseidon, acting as erastes to Pelops, appointed the handsome youth to be his cup-bearer and lover. He fed the youth on ambrosia, taught him to drive his magic chariot and would have kept him there forever, but the other gods, still smarting over the experience with the father, had the son return to earth. Poseidon sadly parted from his friend, but not before heaping great treasure upon him.


Poseidon & Pelops

Poseidon accosting Pelops

The god's trident is shown penetrating the boy's hoop, in symbolic allusion of the sexual nature of their relationship.

Attic red-figure vase, fifth century BCE. Provenance and location not yet identified.


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