Triton God

Triton God

Uncover the true meaning of the Triton God

According to Greek mythology, Triton was regarded as a demigod of the sea, a merman.

Who is Triton?

In roman methology, he was known as Neptune. Have you seen the film the little mermaid? Triton was featured as the father of Ariel in the film. He was even depicted in the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants (this is no joke) and Wonder Women as the god of the sea. In ancient times, Triton was honored as a sea messenger. In order to understand the context of Triton in Greek mythology, I need to turn to his father, known as Poseidon who is the god of earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms. Triton was the son of Poseidon and he rules the underwater world called Atlantica. I will now provide you with an overview of this god, including the aspects that are important in Greek mythology.

Triton’s Mother was the sea goddess known as Amphitrite which in Roman mythology (which follows the same god worships) was known as Celaeno. In Greek mythology, ancient stories were passed down from various written works, which has resulted in the gods and goddesses. Triton’s mother (the goddess of the sea) Amphitrite helped ancient Greeks overcome drought, earthquakes and storms. Poseidon sent all the sea creatures to pursue her hand in marriage, and a wonderful dolphin found her and persuaded her to marry the Tritons father the sea god. They had several children, but most famous was Triton. Triton blew his shell in order to ensure that the seas were calm, and he let boats pass safely. Yes, he was quite a powerful god. There was a hidden side to Triton, in that he was known to attack boats and to rape women, which most texts do not go into. 

The story of Triton was told by several people, including the Greek poet, Hesiod. Many of these stories were devised around 500BC. Apparently, Triton lived in the depths of the sea with his parents in a golden palace. When Trian’s father died he took the crown of being the god of the seas. He could make the sea swirl and control storms according to Greek legand. Before I move onto the actual story I must mention that Greek mythology is a collection of ancient stories that are passed down from various written works. Many of these stories were around 500BC. 

What is the story of Triton?

According to the story Triton was a half human and a half fish. From the waist down, he was a fish, from the waist up, he was a human. His special attribute was a seashell which was twisted which he used to raise or calm the waves.  Triton is normally referred to as the “messenger” in the Greek mythology. 

Artistically, Triton is depicted as a classic merman; he is shown as a merman. He was supposedly the color of the sea with his shoulders pocked with shells and barnacles. The trident, which was his weapon is what made him be well known in the tales.  The trident tie together with one of the three prolonged spears was Triton’s trademark.  It is believed that Triton was more famous than his father was because his ability was higher and stronger. He had a gnarled conch shell which he used to dictate to the sea waves while he played his trumpet.  The sound that it made was said to be so powerful and strong that the elephants in the wild could flee on hearing it, thinking that they were under attack by a strong beast.

In regards to his children, Pallas was Triton biological child. Athena was his foster child. Athena is known in the mythology of the Greeks to be the goddess of war and wisdom. According to the tales and myths, it is believed that, during a friendly sparring match, Athena killed Pallas, her foster sibling. The more the Greeks worshiped and learned about Triton, the more they embraced him and thought of him as the force behind all other gods, with the rest being referred to collectively as Tritons.  The Tritons resembled the mermaids and could be of either gender; male or female depending on the upper body.  Their main work was to escort the sea gods on their various missions.  

What did ancient Greeks say about Triton?

There was a traveler from Greece by the name of Pausanias, who is quoted as saying that, the “Tritons had green hair which was matted” and it was impossible to separate them. Their bodies were covered with tiny scales and had blue eyes which were menacing and dark. Instead of having legs, they had a dolphin-like tail. The Tritons fingernails were strong and sharp, just like a seashell. All the Tritons beings are believed to be offsprings of Triton himself.

Why is he called Triton of the sea?

Triton’s name is due to the fact his father and mother were god and goddess of the sea respectively as I mentioned in the opening paragraph. 

Who were the daughters of Triton?

The daughters of Triton are as follows: Aquata, Andrina, Alana, Ariel, Arista, Adella, and Attina. The titans are known as the twelve progenies of Uranus and Gaia. Consisting of: Cronus, Cruise, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, Mnemosyne, oceanus, phoebe, Rhea,Tethys, The, Themis.

What is the story of Triton and the little mermaid (Ariel)?

According to the Disney animated feature film, “The Little Mermaids,” Triton was married to Queen Athena, whom they bore seven daughters: Ariel, Aquata, Alana, Andrina, Adella, Arista, and Attina. Triton is considered to be the king of Atlantica; he possesses a very powerful weapon, the trident, which is magical and is made of gold. This emits a typical sound while in use, and it glows in the light. Triton in terms of his character in the Disney film had two armbands and a crown, made of gold. 

The background of the story revolves around an archenemy of Triton, Ursula. She is banished from the kingdom where she once served as a member of the Court of King Triton, and she is out for revenge. Ariel, being the daughter of Triton, clashes with her father because, just like her father, she is independent and strong-willed. Ariel is the favorite daughter of Triton, and this could be because, she has red hair, just like himself. Ariel also resembles Athena, her mother and that could be another reason why she is her father’s favorite. 

After the death of his wife Athena which happened as an accident, Triton seems to be very strict as a result of the impending grief. Before his wife died, Triton was portrayed in the film as a wise ruler, but after her death, he seems to be at odds with humans, and this brings conflicts between him and his daughter Ariel. Triton views humans and dangerous adventures as a no-go zone for his children, but Ariel loves adventuring. This leaves Triton feeling remorse and guilty for upsetting his daughter. 

Even though Triton is portrayed as a caring and loving father, the prejudice he has towards humans is what leads to constant conflicts with his daughter. This brings out Triton as one with an explosive temper when provoked. It resulted in genocidal thoughts towards humans. At one point in the film, he was mad at Ariel for saving Eric, a human, who was on the verge of drowning. Ariel tells him that, were it not for her, Eric could have drowned and died, but Triton retorts by showing no remorse.

Triton’s hatred towards humans is also shown by him destroying Ariel’s human artifacts. He later shows remorse towards Ariel by softening and displaying despair. Ariel becomes human and goes missing, and Triton blames himself for allowing the humans to penetrate the mind of his daughter and transforming her. He believes his strictness towards Ariel could have driven her to transformation, and this, he confides in a character, Sebastian in the movie. In the end, Triton is forced to accept humans only because one of his children has become a human. He shows this by having a soft spot for his granddaughter, Melody, who is Ariel’s child. He makes sure that she is always safe. So that is the Disney story.

What is the association of Neptune and Triton?

Neptune is the name for Triton in Roman mythology. Consequently, Triton is known as a moon on the Neptune planet. It is the largest moon on Neptune, and is greater than the other 13 moons which have so far been discovered on that planet. Neptune was discovered, and 17 days later, on October 10, 1846. At this point Triton was discovered. The next in line to be found was Nereid in 1949, which is the third largest moon on Neptune. The second largest moon on Neptune which is called Proteus, was discovered much later because it was hard to see notice due to the limited telescopes which were used in the 1800s. I would like to add that other moons found on planet Neptune are S/2004 N1, which is the smallest of them all, discovered in 2013, July by Mark Showalter, an American astronomer. 

What is the connection between Triton and the moon?

Triton is the moon of Neptune. It is the largest satellite of the planet Neptune, which is natural and it was the first of the many Neptunian moons to be discovered in 1846, October 10 by William Lassell, an English Astronomer. It is considered in the solar system to be the largest moon, which has a retrograde orbit, which is rotating opposite to its planet rotation. Triton is the seventh largest moon in the solar system with a diameter of 2,710 kilometers and weighs 2.14 x 1022 kg.  It comprises of the largest mass known to orbit the Neptune, planet, at more than 99.5%. So in summary, Triton is a type of a moon.  

Why is Triton important in Greek mythology?

Being the son of a royal couple of the sea, Poseidon and Amphitrite, he had two purposes to perform for the Greek people, firstly, commanding the waves to be calm or rough as he pleases, and to announce the presence of his father by using his conch shell. According to the Greek mythology, the ancient people valued him, even more, when he drowned Misenus, a Trojan mortal, for thinking that he could also play the conch better than Triton. Triton was considered to be the holiest son of Poseidon, whose main mission was to be a messenger of the sea. 

Side-note: I am Flo and I hope here I can provide you with an easy to follow overview of Triton, the leader of the sea Greek god. In many books I have read it is not that easy to understand but I hope to shine light on the meaning. If there is something I have missed then please let me know. Blessings.

By Florance Saul
Apr 19, 2018