I’ve become quite the horse mythology buff recently and have been on the hunt for as many of these strange creatures as I can find. Hippocampus comes from both Phoenician and Greek mythology, although their name is purely Greek.
The creature was said to have the head and front legs of a horse and the tail & hindquarter of a serpent or a fish, a curious creature indeed.
These proud looking animals were used in the service of Poseidon, who is not only the God of the sea, but the God of horses as well. Different myths spur different imagery where Poseidon and his mounts are concerned, sometimes he rides them and in others they draw his sea-chariot.
Although there haven’t been many actual sightings of these animals, their likeness can be found on the walls of temples, Roman baths, in fountains, & even decorating tomb walls.
These days the term is used to refer to the seahorse, which is a very literal translation of the name.
Not quite the majestic beast we imaging pulling Poseidon’s chariot, but a graceful, mysterious animal nonetheless.
It is easy to see where the myths came from, the seahorse of today looks strikingly similar to our terrestrial equines. Perhaps seahorses used to grow very, very large and that is where the story of Poseidon’s trusty Hippocampus came from.
Not Always on the Good Side
Although we think of the horse as a noble and good creatures, (like pegasus) not all horses of mythology are friendly ones. There are a few that everyone should keep an eye out for, like the Tikbalang & the Kelpie. Both of which are horse-like creatures and not to be trusted.