Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Word from Mythology: PROTEAN

The English word "protean" describes something or something that changes often and easily, after the Greek supernatural character named Proteus, also known as the Old Man of the Sea. You can read more about Proteus in mythology at Wikipedia, and he is also an important symbol in alchemy.

Here is how Homer describes King Menelaus, called here "Son of Atreus," wrestling with Proteus; once subdued, Proteus utters prophecies. You can read the rest of the passage at  Tony Kline's Odyssey online:
With a shout we rushed at him, and grappled him, but he forgot none of his crafty tricks. First he turned to a bearded lion, then a snake, and a leopard: then a giant boar: then he became rushing water, then a vast leafy tree: but we held tight with unyielding courage. When at last that old man, expert in magic arts, grew tired, he spoke to me, saying: “Son of Atreus, which of the gods told you to lie in wait for me, and hold me against my will? What is it you wish?”’
This sculpture shows the hero, Aristaeus, wrestling with Proteus:

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