In Homeric Hymn 22 (to Poseidon), we learn that Poseidon is lord of mount Helicon:

I begin to sing about Poseidon, the great god, mover of the earth and fruitless sea, god of the deep who is also lord of Helicon and wide Aegae. A two-fold office the gods allotted you, O Shaker of the Earth, to be a tamer of horses and a saviour of ships!

Source: http://data.perseus.org/citations/urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0013.tlg022.perseus-eng1:1

Do we know how the god of the sea became associated with the mythologically important mountain?

2 Answers 2


That is a good question. There were several springs on Mt. Helicon, and I suspect the answer is connected to them. I found an interesting suggestion under "Hippocampus" in Wikipedia:

The appearance of hippocampi in both freshwater and saltwater is counter-intuitive to a modern audience, though not to an ancient one. The Greek picture of the natural hydrological cycle did not take into account the condensation of atmospheric water as rain to replenish the water table, but imagined the waters of the sea oozing back landwards through vast underground caverns and aquifers, rising replenished and freshened in springs.

Thus it was natural for a temple at Helike in the coastal plain of Achaea to be dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios, (the Poseidon of Helicon), the sacred spring of Boeotian Helikon. When an earthquake suddenly submerged the city, the temple's bronze Poseidon accompanied by hippocampi continued to snag fishermens' nets.

Poseidon was god of earthquakes and horses as well as the sea. If Helicon had suffered tremors before it was submerged, that could explain the dedication to Poseidon. The spring at Helicon was supposedly created when Pegasus's hoof struck earth, or on the advice of Posedion himself, to stop its rising to heaven.

Two other springs there, the Aganippe and the Hippocrene, both have the word hippos, horse, in their names, which also suggest a connection to Poseidon.

  • 2
    To corroborate @solsdottir's answer, Poseidon famously created a spring in Athens as his entry in the contest to get the city named after him. (He lost the contest to Athena, who planted an olive tree (some say she created the olive tree, others that she merely domesticated it.)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 19:53

The Horse symbolises understanding or more precisely wisdom (Gnosis). Helicon (helix) symbolises as its name suggests a serpent also related to wisdom of a divine nature. Pegasus the winged horse symbolises a higher or divine wisdom, Hippocrene the spring of wisdom. The tree muses who reside on Mt Helicon were worshipped as Serpent Goddesses as was Medusa in Libya.The site was the centre of an ancient form of serpent worship before the rise of the Greek pantheon.

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