Joslyn Art Museum opens Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult, and Daily Life

Joslyn Art Museum presents Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult, and Daily Life an exhibition on view February 8 through May 11.

The realms of Poseidon encompassed virtually every aspect of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, from mythology and religious cult to the daily life of its people. This exhibition, premiering nationally at Joslyn Art Museum, explores each of his dominions through more than 100 works of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art produced between 800 BC and 400 AD. Visitors will see striking black-figure and red-figure pottery, alongside sculptures in terracotta, marble, and precious metals, and extraordinary examples of ancient glass, mosaics, carved gems, and coins, all providing a rich picture of life in the ancient world.

Instantly recognizable by his trident and accompanied by fish and dolphins,
Poseidon — like his Roman counterpart Neptune — is characterized by his sturdy build, thick wavy hair, and full beard. He looms large in Greek mythology as a central figure in the battle between the Olympian gods that brought order to the world and the monstrous race of Giants that threatened to overthrow them and create havoc. With power over not only the sea but also horses and natural phenomena from floods to earthquakes, Poseidon carried great importance throughout the ancient world. His most famous sanctuary was at Isthmia, but he was also worshipped at landlocked sanctuaries. Votive offerings were meant to illuminate and impress — from a small bronze horse, to schools of lead fish, to representations of the god himself. Poseidon appears frequently on vases made in ancient Athens, where the sea god and his son Theseus aided in the historic defeat of invading Persian forces, saving the city.

Poseidon and the Sea is open during all regular Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday*, 10 am to 4 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm. Closed Monday and major holidays.