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A Trident /ˈtrdənt/ is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and historically as a polearm. The trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune, the God of the Sea in classical mythology. In Hindu mythology, it is the weapon of Shiva, known as trishula (Sanskrit for "triple-spear"). It has been used by farmers as a decorticator to remove leaves, seeds, and buds from the stalks of plants such as flax and hemp.


The word "trident" comes from the French word trident, which in turn comes from the Latin word tridens or tridentis: tri meaning "three", and dentes meaning "teeth", referring specifically to the three prongs, or "teeth", of the weapon. The Sanskrit name for the trident, "trishula", is a compound of tri त्रि for "three" + ṣūla शूल for "thorn", calling the trident's three prongs "thorns" rather than "teeth".

The Greek equivalent is τρίαινα (tríaina), from Proto-Greek trianja, meaning "threefold".


Mosaic, 4th century BC, showing a retiarius or "net fighter", with a trident and cast net, fighting a secutor.
Fountain of Neptune in Diafáni, Karpathos island

In Greek, Roman, and Hindu mythology, the trident is said to have the power of control over the ocean.


Tridents for fishing usually have barbed tines, which trap the speared fish firmly. In the Southern and Midwestern United States, gigging is used for harvesting suckers, bullfrogs, flounder, and many species of rough fish.[1]


The trident, known as dangpa, is featured as a weapon in the 17th- to 18th-century systems of Korean martial arts.

In Ancient Rome, in a parody of fishing, tridents were famously used by a type of gladiator called a retiarius or "net fighter". The retiarius was traditionally pitted against a secutor, and cast a net to wrap his adversary and then used the trident to kill him.[2]

Symbolism and mythology[edit]

In Hindu legends and stories Shiva, a Hindu God who holds a trident in his hand, uses this sacred weapon to fight off negativity in the form of evil villains. The trident is also said to represent three gunas mentioned in Indian vedic philosophy namely sāttvika, rājasika, and tāmasika.

In Greek myth, Poseidon used his trident to create water sources in Greece and the horse. Poseidon, as well as being god of the sea, was also known as the "Earth Shaker" because when he struck the earth in anger he caused mighty earthquakes and he used his trident to stir up tidal waves, tsunamis and sea storms. In relation to its fishing origins, the trident is associated with Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology, and his Roman counterpart Neptune.

In Roman myth, Neptune also used a trident to create new bodies of water and cause earthquakes. A good example can be seen in Gian Bernini's Neptune and Triton.

In religious Taoism, the trident represents the Taoist Trinity, the Three Pure Ones. In Taoist rituals, a trident bell is used to invite the presence of deities and summon spirits, as the trident signifies the highest authority of Heaven.

The trishula of the Hindu god Shiva. A weapon of South-East Asian (particularly Thai) depiction of Hanuman, a character of Ramayana.

A fork Jewish priests (Kohanim) used to take their portions of offerings.[3]

The glyph or sigil of the planet Neptune in astronomy and astrology.

Poseidon replaced Oceanus as the Lord of the Seas after the Titanomachy which was when the Gods choose Zeus as their king and Mount Olympus as their residence. It became his Symbol of Power, which also came along side with the horse, the bull, and the dolphin.

Modern Films[edit]

Percy Jackson and the Olympians[edit]

The Lightning Thief[edit]

This is the first film where Poseidon is seen wielding his Trident on the occasion where he first meets Percy Jackson at Mount Olympus in the Throne Room.

The Titan's Curse[edit]

At the Council of the Gods on Winter Solstice, Poseidon sides with the judgement of his son, Percy. When he declares that he wouldn't allow the death of the Ophiotaurus, his Trident was in his hand as he became angry at the situation.

The Battle of the Labyrinth[edit]

In Mt. Saint Helens the telekhines claimed that they were the ones who made Poseidon's trident. This was not shown.

The Last Olympian[edit]

During the Battle of Manhattan, Percy goes up to Olympus and sits on his fathers Throne which was forbidden but did so in order to to get his father's attention.

Poseidon did not know who was the one who dared to disobey the rules and sit on the throne and was determined to blast whoever it was but realized it was his son Percy.

As the terrifying Storm Giant Typhon started his final charge toward Olympus, Poseidon stepped into the Hudson River

Poseidon managed to struck the Typhon with his Trident in order to severely wound and weaken the Storm Giant.


In the 2018 hit Aquaman, the main character Aquaman goes on a hunt for the long lost legendary trident of Atlan


The flag of Barbados incorporates a Trident.

Civilian use[edit]

Military emblems[edit]

Botanical nomenclature[edit]

A number of structures in the biological world are described as trident in appearance. Since at least the late 19th century the trident shape was applied to certain botanical shapes; for example, certain orchid flora were described as having trident-tipped lips in early botanical works.[5] Furthermore, in current botanical literature, certain bracts are stated to have a trident-shape (e.g. Douglas-fir).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turner, Andy. "Fish Gigging: An Ozark Tradition". Missouri Department of Conservation.
  2. ^ Roland Auguet [1970] (1994). Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10452-1.
  3. ^ "1 Samuel 2 / Hebrew Bible in English / Mechon-Mamre".
  4. ^ "Iron-willed 'hero' images". 9 April 2010.
  5. ^ John Lindley and Thomas Moore (1964) The Treasury of Botany: A Popular Dictionary of the Vegetable Kingdom with which is Incorporated a Glossary of Botanical Terms, Published by Longmans Green, pt.1
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Douglas-fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii,, ed. Nicklas Strõmberg Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine.