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Proteus

Two beings in Greek mythology shared the name Proteus. They are both described below. There is also a natural satellite of Neptune with that name, described at Proteus (moon).


King Proteus was the catalyst in the story of Bellerophon. Bellerophon's journey begins when he is acused of trying to seduce the wife of King Proteus. He is sent into to exile to the land of King Iobates of Lycia. Proteus wanted Lycia to kill Bellerophon, but Iobates feared the wrath of the gods if he murdered a guest. So he sent Bellerophon on a mission that Iobates deemed impossible: to kill the fire-breathing monster the Chimera. An alternate version of the beginning of the quest is that Bellerophon wandered into Proteus, who grew intensely jealous of him. Proteus was the son-in-law of Iobates, King of Lycia, and sent Bellerophon to him with a sealed message that asked to kill Bellerophon. Lycia at the time was in the middle of a horrific plague and Iobates didn't want to strain the population with a war, which would surely be the result if he murdered Bellerophon. Instead, he sent him on an impossible quest: the kill the Chimera.


Proteus is a son of Poseidon or Oceanus and a Naiad. He is sea-god, herdsman of Poseidon's seals, and is able to change his shape and has the gift of prophecy. He will shapechange to avoid having to prophecy; he will only foretell the future to someone who is capable of capturing him. His children include Eido[?] and Theoklymenos[?] with Psamathe, Polygonos[?] and Telegonos[?] (both killed by Hercules), and Eidothea[?].

There is a story, which says that at one time Aristaeus? (son of Apollo) bees all died of a disease and he went to his mother, Cyrene, for help. She told him that Proteus could tell him how prevent another such disaster, but would do so only if compelled. Aristeus had to seize Proteus and hold him, while he changed shape. He did so and Proteus eventually gave up and told him to sacrifice 12 animals to the gods and leave the corpses in the place of sacrifice and return three days later. When Aristaeus returned after the three days he found in one of the carcuses a swarm of bees and they were never again troubled by disease.



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