Triton (mythology)
Overview
Triton is a mythological Greek god
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, god of the sea, and Amphitrite
Amphitrite
In ancient Greek mythology, Amphitrite was a sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon. Under the influence of the Olympian pantheon, she became merely the consort of Poseidon, and was further diminished by poets to a symbolic representation of the sea...

, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is. He is usually represented as a merman
Merman
Mermen are mythical male equivalents of mermaids – legendary creatures who have the form of a human from the waist up and are fish-like from the waist down.-Mythology:...

, having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, "sea-hued", according to Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 "his shoulders barnacled with sea-shells".
Like his father, Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, he carried a trident
Trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

. However, Triton's special attribute was a twisted conch
Conch
A conch is a common name which is applied to a number of different species of medium-sized to large sea snails or their shells, generally those which are large and have a high spire and a siphonal canal....

 shell, on which he blew like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves.
Encyclopedia
Triton is a mythological Greek god
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, god of the sea, and Amphitrite
Amphitrite
In ancient Greek mythology, Amphitrite was a sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon. Under the influence of the Olympian pantheon, she became merely the consort of Poseidon, and was further diminished by poets to a symbolic representation of the sea...

, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is. He is usually represented as a merman
Merman
Mermen are mythical male equivalents of mermaids – legendary creatures who have the form of a human from the waist up and are fish-like from the waist down.-Mythology:...

, having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, "sea-hued", according to Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 "his shoulders barnacled with sea-shells".
Like his father, Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, he carried a trident
Trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

. However, Triton's special attribute was a twisted conch
Conch
A conch is a common name which is applied to a number of different species of medium-sized to large sea snails or their shells, generally those which are large and have a high spire and a siphonal canal....

 shell, on which he blew like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves. Its sound was so terrible, that when loudly blown, it put the giants to flight, who imagined it to be the roar of a dark wild beast.

According to Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, Triton dwelt with his parents in a golden palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 in the depths of the sea; Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 places his seat in the waters off Aegae. The story of the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 places his home on the coast of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. When the Argo
Argo
In Greek mythology, the Argo was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcos to retrieve the Golden Fleece. It was named after its builder, Argus.-Legend:...

 was driven ashore in the Gulf of Syrtes Minor
Gulf of Gabès
The Gulf of Gabès is a gulf on Tunisia's east coast in the Mediterranean Sea, off North Africa. The gulf roughly spans the coast from modern day the town of Mahrès in Sfax Gouvernorate to Djerba...

, the crew carried the vessel to the "Tritonian Lake", Lake Tritonis
Lake Tritonis
Lake Tritonis was a large body of fresh water in northern Africa that was described in many ancient texts. Classical-era Greek writers placed the lake in what today is southern Tunisia. In details of the late myths and personal observations related by these historians, the lake was said to be named...

, whence Triton, the local deity euhemeristically rationalized
Euhemerus
Euhemerus was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. Euhemerus' birthplace is disputed, with Messina in Sicily as the most probable location, while others champion Chios, or Tegea.-Life:...

 by Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 as "then ruler over Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

", welcomed them with a guest-gift of a clod of earth and guided them through the lake's marshy outlet back to the Mediterranean. When the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 were lost in the desert, he guided them to find the passage from the river back to the sea.

Triton was the father of Pallas
Pallas (daughter of Triton)
In Greek mythology, Pallas was the daughter of Triton. Acting as a foster parent to Zeus’s daughter Athena, Triton raised her alongside his own daughter. During a friendly fight between the two goddesses, Athena was protected from harm by Zeus but mortally wounded Pallas. Out of sadness and...

 and foster parent to the goddess Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

. Pallas was killed by Athena during a fight between the two goddesses. Triton is also sometimes cited as the father of Scylla
Scylla
In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice...

 by Lamia
Lamia (mythology)
In ancient Greek mythology, Lamia was a beautiful queen of Libya who became a child-eating daemon. Aristophanes claimed her name derived from the Greek word for gullet , referring to her habit of devouring children....

. Triton can sometimes be multiplied into a host of Tritones, daimon
Daimon
Daimon is an Ancient Greek word referring to lesser supernatural beings, including minor gods and the spirits of dead heroes.It may also refer to:- People :* Daimon Shelton , professional American football player...

es
of the sea.

Tritons

Over time, Triton's name and image came to be associated with a class of mermaid-like creatures, the Tritons (Τρίτωνες), which could be male or female, and usually formed the escort of marine divinities. Tritons were a race of sea gods and goddesses born from Triton. Triton lived with his parents, Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 and Amphitrite
Amphitrite
In ancient Greek mythology, Amphitrite was a sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon. Under the influence of the Olympian pantheon, she became merely the consort of Poseidon, and was further diminished by poets to a symbolic representation of the sea...

, who was also known as Celaeno
Celaeno
In Greek mythology, Celaeno referred to several different figures.*Celaeno, one of the Harpies, whom Aeneas encountered at Strophades. She gave him prophecies of his coming journeys.*Celaeno, one of the Pleiades...

, in a golden palace on the bottom of the sea. According to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 it was called Aegae. Unlike their ancestor Poseidon who is always fully anthropomorphic in ancient art (this has only changed in modern popular culture), Tritons' lower half is that of a fish, while the top half is presented in a human figure. This is debated often because their appearance is described differently throughout history. Ordinary Tritons were described in detail by the traveller Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 (ix. 21).
"The Tritons have the following appearance. On their heads they grow hair like that of marsh frogs not only in color, but also in the impossibility of separating one hair from another. The rest of their body is rough with fine scales just as is the shark. Under their ears they have gills and a man's nose; but the mouth is broader and the teeth are those of a beast. Their eyes seem to me blue, and they have hands, fingers, and nails like the shells of the murex. Under the breast and belly is a tail like a dolphin's instead of feet."


They are often compared to other Merman/Mermaid
Mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

 like beings, such as Merrow
Merrow
Merrow or Murrough is the Scottish and Irish Gaelic equivalent of the mermaid and mermen of other cultures. These beings are said to appear as human from the waist up but have the body of a fish from the waist down...

s, Selkies, and Siren
Siren
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous mermaid like creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli...

s. They are also thought of as the aquatic versions of Satyrs. Another description of Tritons is that of the Centaur-Tritons, also known as Ichthyocentaurs
Ichthyocentaurs
In Greek mythology ichthyocentaurs were a pair of centaurine sea-gods with the upper body of a man, the lower front of a horse, and the tail of a fish. Also, they wore lobster-claw horns. The two sea-gods were named Bythos and Aphros...

 who are depicted with two horse's feet in place of where their arms would be.

When Pausanias visited the city of Triteia in the second century CE, he was told that the name of the city was derived from an eponym
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous Triteia, a daughter of Triton, and that it claimed to have been founded by her son (with Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

), one among several mythic heroes named Melanippus
Melanippus
In Greek mythology, there were nine people named Melanippus :#One of the sons of Agrius, killed by Diomedes.#Son of Perigune and Theseus, the father of Ioxus who, together with Ornytus, led a colony to Caria and became the ancestor of the family Ioxides.#Son of Astacus, defended Thebes in Seven...

 ("Black Horse").

Tritons were the trumpeters of the sea, using trumpets made out of a great shell, mostly known as a conch. They would blow this shell throughout the sea to calm the waves, or stir them up, all at the command of Poseidon.

University, College, and High School Mascot

There are numerous Universities, Colleges, and High Schools
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 that use the Triton as their mascot to represent their school. Also many club sports teams use the symbol of Tritons as their mascot as well, such as Junior Football Leagues, and numerous swimming leagues.

Triton since the Renaissance

The largest moon of the planet Neptune
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

 has been given the name Triton
Triton (moon)
Triton is the largest moon of the planet Neptune, discovered on October 10, 1846, by English astronomer William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, which is an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet's rotation. At 2,700 km in diameter, it is...

, as Neptune is the Roman equivalent of Poseidon.

In Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

's sonnet "The World Is Too Much with Us
The world is too much with us
"The World Is Too Much with Us" is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In it, Wordsworth criticizes the world of the First Industrial Revolution for being absorbed in materialism and distancing itself from nature. Composed circa 1802, the poem was first published in Poems, In...

" (ca 1802, published 1807), the poet regrets the prosaic humdrum modern world, yearning for
glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


A family of large sea snails, the shells of some of which have been used as trumpets since antiquity, are commonly known as "tritons", see Triton (gastropod).

The name Triton is associated in modern industry with tough hard-wearing machines such as the Ford Triton engine and Mitsubishi Triton
Mitsubishi Triton
The Mitsubishi Triton is a compact pickup truck produced by Mitsubishi Motors. It was originally known as the Mitsubishi Forte in Japan from 1978 to 1986, when the name was discontinued in favour of the Strada. In the United States two captive imports of the Forte were sold by the Chrysler...

 pickup truck.

The mascot
Mascot
The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – colloquially includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name...

 of the University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

 is the Triton.

In fiction

Triton appears in The Last Olympian
The Last Olympian
The Last Olympian is a fantasy-adventure novel based on Greek mythology by Rick Riordan, published on May 5, 2009. It is the fifth and final novel in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and serves as the direct sequel to The Battle of the Labyrinth...

by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan
Richard Russell "Rick" Riordan, Jr. is an American author best known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. He also wrote the Tres Navarre mystery series for adults and helped to edit Demigods and Monsters, a collection of essays on the topic of his Percy Jackson series...

. He helps his father fight against the Titans
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

 of the sea, and is very rude to Percy Jackson, who is his half brother. In the book he is described as a young-looking merman with two fish tails instead of one, green skin, black hair tied into a ponytail, and wearing armor studded with pearls.

King Triton, as an adaptation, also stars in the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid (1989 film)
The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, the film was originally released to theaters on November 14, 1989 and is the twenty-eighth film in...

(1989
1989 in film
-Events:* Batman is released on June 23, and goes on to gross over $410 million worldwide.* Actress Kim Basinger and her brother Mick purchase Braselton, Georgia, for $20 million...

) as Sea King and ruler of "Atlantica".

Triton appears in the film Jason and the Argonauts (1963
1963 in film
The year 1963 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* June 12 - Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton premieres at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City....

). He holds back the base of rocks in a strait that just sunk another ship, thus allowing the Argo to continue on its journey.

Triton also appears as a villain in the DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 books Aquaman
Aquaman
Aquaman is a fictional superhero who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 . Initially a backup feature in DC's anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo title...

and Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 . The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986....

. In The New Adventures of Superman
The New Adventures of Superman
The New Adventures of Superman may refer to:*The New Adventures of Superman , a 1960s animation by Filmation*Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a 1990s live-action series...

 Triton appears in the episode "The Mermen Of Emor."

In the PlayStation Portable
PlayStation Portable
The is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Corporation Development of the console was announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on , 2004, at a Sony press conference before E3 2004...

 game God of War: Chains of Olympus
God of War: Chains of Olympus
God of War: Chains of Olympus is an action-adventure game developed by Ready at Dawn and released by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation Portable in March 2008....

, the prequel to a series
God of War (series)
God of War is a series of action-adventure video games based on Greek mythology.The main trilogy—God of War I, II, & III—in the series were developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division , with Ready at Dawn Studios developing the PSP and Javaground the mobile phone installment...

 of games based on Greek mythology, a statue of Triton is seen in the Caves of Olympus. The protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 Kratos
Kratos (God of War)
Kratos is a video game character from Sony Computer Entertainment'sGod of War series, which is loosely based on Greek mythology. Kratos first appeared in the highly successful video game God of War , which led to the development of five additional games featuring the character as the protagonist...

 takes Triton's Lance so Kratos can swim and breathe underwater for unlimited amounts of time.

In a SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series, created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of "Bikini Bottom"...

special, SpongeBob releases him from a cage and Triton attacks Bikini Bottom.

Triton appears in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is a television series, filmed in New Zealand and the United States. It was produced from 1995, and was very loosely based on the tales of the classical Greek culture hero Heracles...

. Season 5 Episode 18 "Love on the Rocks"

External links

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