In Greek mythology, Triton is the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, the personification of the roaring waters, represented as having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Over time, his name and image came to be associated with a class of creatures, Tritons, which could be male or female, and usually formed the escort of marine divinities.
His special attribute was a twisted seashell, on which he blew to calm or raise the waves. Its sound was so terrible, when loudly blown, that it put the giants to flight, who imagined it to be the roar of a mighty wild beast (Hyginus, Poet. astronom. ii. 23). When Misenus, the trumpeter of Aeneas, challenged him to a contest of blowing, Triton in his jealousy flung him into the sea.
Ordinary Tritons were described in detail by the geographer Pausanias (ix. 21). A variety of Triton, the Centauro-Triton or Ichthyocentaur ("Fish-centaur"), was described as having the forefeet of a horse in addition to the human body and the fish tail. It is probable that the idea of Triton owes its origin to the Phoenician fish-deities.
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