Symbol of versatility, adaptability, flexibility, and the unconscious.

Proteus is the Greek god of the sea. He is the son of Poseidon, the sea god. Proteus was a shape-shifting god of the sea. He could become any form he wanted, including the human, animal, and elemental forms (fire, air, earth, and water). He was a prophet, but he would only prophesy to those who caught him while he was sleeping and compelled him to speak. Because of his ability to shape-shift, it was difficult for anyone to capture him. Jung called Proteus a symbol of unconsciousness because, just like the dream world, he shifts his shape and speaks in riddles.

His symbol is one of a curved trident on top of an inverted straight trident. Proteus knew the past, present, and future because he was a prophet. The trident represents the past, present, and future. The inverted trident is not curved. It is a straight trident or, in some cases, the base of a table or altar. The symbol is also used to represent the planet Neptune, the water planet.

Proteus was in charge of Poseidon’s sea flocks, including sea animals and monsters. He was generally found in the shape of a sea lion. Proteus would spend all his time in the sea and then come out to sleep on a rock. Aristaeus, who was the son of Cyrene and Apollo, had bees. All of his bees died. He sought out Proteus to find out why the bees had died. Despite Proteus having altered his shape, Aristaeus was able to capture and hold him. Proteus told Aristaeus why the bees had died and how to get them back. Aristaeus followed Proteus’ instructions and was able to get another swarm of bees for his apiary.

Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Joyce referenced Proteus in their works of literature. Several modern-day companies use Proteus in their company names, including software companies, healthcare, and fitness. Progress Wrestling has a Proteus Championship. The winner of the championship determines how the next round will be fought; thus, it is an ever-changing sport. Amoeba proteus is thus named because it constantly changes form and has no fixed shape.

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