Illustration of Proteus by Andrea Alciato from The Book of Emblems (1531)

In Greek mythology, Proteus (s/;[1] Ancient Greek: Πρωτεύς) is an early sea-god or god of rivers and oceanic bodies of water, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea".[2] Some who ascribe to him a specific domain call him the god of "elusive sea change", which suggests the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water in general. He can foretell the future, but, in a mytheme familiar to several cultures, will change his shape to avoid having to; he will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing the beast. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, with the general meaning of "versatile", "mutable", "capable of assuming many forms". "Protean" has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.


Proteus' name suggests the "first" (from Greek "πρῶτος" protos, "first"), as protogonos (πρωτόγονος) is the "primordial" or the "firstborn". It is not certain to what this refers, but in myths where he is the son of Poseidon, it possibly refers to his being Poseidon's eldest son, older than Poseidon's other son, the sea-god Triton. The first attestation of the name, although it is not certain whether it refers to the god or just a person, is in Mycenaean Greek; the attested form, in Linear B, is 𐀡𐀫𐀳𐀄, po-ro-te-u.[3][4][5]

Other Languages
беларуская: Пратэй (міфалогія)
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пратэй (міталёгія)
català: Proteu
čeština: Próteus
español: Proteo
euskara: Proteo
հայերեն: Պրոտևս
Bahasa Indonesia: Proteus
Latina: Proteus
Lëtzebuergesch: Proteus
lietuvių: Protėjas
magyar: Próteusz
македонски: Протеј
norsk: Protevs
norsk nynorsk: Protevs
occitan: Protèu
português: Proteu
română: Proteu
slovenčina: Próteus
српски / srpski: Протеј
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Protej (mitologija)
suomi: Proteus
svenska: Proteus
українська: Протей
Tiếng Việt: Proteus
中文: 普罗透斯