A trident /ˈtraɪdənt/ 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, as well as his son Triton. In Hinduism, 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" and ṣūla शूल for "thorn", calling the trident's three prongs "thorns" rather than "teeth".
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.
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.
Symbolism and mythology
In Hindu legends and stories Shiva, the 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 relation to its fishing origins, the trident is associated with Poseidon and his Roman counterpart, Neptune, a gods of the sea. In Greek myth, Poseidon used his trident to create water sources in Greece and the horse. Poseidon, as well as being the 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 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.
Trident, Burmese, 18th century
- The Tryzub in the Coat of Arms of Ukraine, adopted in 1918 (in a reinterpretation of a medieval emblem which most likely depicted a skydiving falcon, like the Emblem of Staraya Ladoga)
- The national emblem on the flag of Barbados.
- The "forks of the people's anger", adopted by the Russian anti-Soviet revolutionary organization, National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (NTS).
- Britannia, the personification of Great Britain.
- The election symbol of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist).
- The symbol for Washington and Lee University.
- The symbol (since June 2008) for the athletic teams (Tritons) at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
- Sparky the Sun Devil, the mascot of Arizona State University, holds a trident. (ASU recently[when?] redesigned its trident as a stand-alone symbol.)
- The trident was used as the original cap insignia and original logo for the Seattle Mariners.
- An element on the flag of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
- The Maserati logo.
- Club Méditerranée.
- The Hawker Siddeley Trident, a 1960s British three-engine jet airliner.
- The Tirreno–Adriatico cycle race trophy.
- The University of California, San Diego mascot is the Triton.
- With Poseidon in the 31st Brigade.
- The symbol of the Swedish Coastal Rangers, Kustjägarna.
- The United States Naval Special Warfare Command, and the Special Warfare insignia, particularly worn by members of the US Navy SEALs, and containing a trident representing the three aspects (Sea, Air, and Land) of SEAL special operations.
- Part of the golden-colored crest of the United States Naval Academy, which depicts a trident running vertically in its background.
- The ship's crests of 13 of the 18 Ohio-class submarines of the U.S. Navy prominently feature tridents, as both a symbol of maritime power, and in reference to their payloads of Trident D-5 missiles.
- The rating badge of the United States Coast Guard Marine Science Technician.
- The Tug Banner used by Mongolian Honor guards.
- The insignia of the German commando force, Kampfschwimmer.
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. Furthermore, in current botanical literature, certain bracts are stated to have a trident-shape (e.g. Douglas-fir).
- Trident in popular culture
- Military fork
- Sai (weapon)
- Eighteen Arms of Wushu
- Coat of arms of Ukraine
- Turner, Andy. "Fish Gigging: An Ozark Tradition". Missouri Department of Conservation.
- Roland Auguet  (1994). Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10452-1.
- "1 Samuel 2 / Hebrew Bible in English / Mechon-Mamre". mechon-mamre.org.
- "Iron-willed 'hero' images". nypost.com. 9 April 2010.
- पार्टीको सूची — Election Commission of Nepal Archived 2013-11-02 at the Wayback Machine
- 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
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Douglas-fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii, globalTwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Strõmberg Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine