TRIDENT (Lat. tridens, tri-, tres, three and dens, tooth), a three-toothed or three-pronged fork or spear. It is and has been from primitive times the typical instrument for spearing fish, the Scottish " leister " (Norw. Ijoster), and was thus taken as the badge or emblem of the Greek Poseidon, the god of the sea. In Homer (cf. //. xii. 27; Od. Iv. 506 seq.) Poseidon is armed with the rpituva (another word is rpiodovs, cf. Find. Ol. ix. 45). The trident as the symbol of the sovereignty of the sea is found as early as Archilochus (c. 700 B.C.); a more familiar example is to be found in Aristophanes (Eq. 839). The emblematical figure of Britannia holds the trident as mistress of the sea. In the gladiatorial shows of ancient Rome the retiarius was armed with a trident as a weapon.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)