A trident is a staff or spear which is topped with three prongs. Tridents have been used historically as hunting tools and weapons, and they also have cultural associations in some parts of the world. Many examples of historic tridents can be seen in museums, and they are also depicted in numerous paintings, tapestries, and statues, among other works of art. It is also possible to purchase tridents for various purposes from suppliers who specialize in them.
The word trident comes from the Latin tri- for “three” and dens, for “teeth.” Tridents are probably closely related to the pitchfork, a highly useful agricultural tool. As weapons, tridents can be quite effective, because they extend the range of the user and act to trap the weapons of an opponent between their tines. Tridents are also very useful for hunting and fishing; in the Southern United States, the trident is known as a “gig,” and “gigging” for various small prey like frogs is quite common.
Many people associate the trident with the Greek god Poseidon, and his Roman equivalent, Neptune. These gods are both associated with the ocean, and they carried tridents as ceremonial staffs of office. The Hindu god Shiva is also sometimes depicted carrying a trident. These historical associations explain why tridents often appear in the logos of organizations focused on marine activities like fishing and boating.
In Rome, the trident was used as a weapon by some gladiators. To use the trident, these gladiators cast a net to trap their pray, and then utilized the trident as a stabbing weapon. Tridents were also ritually carried in some religious parades, and were used in the symbolism for some religious cults. Neptune and Poseidon were said to have used their tridents for things like creating new rivers and generating earthquakes, suggesting a magical link with the trident for the Greeks and Romans.
When tridents are used as weapons, they more commonly have two teeth, which means that they technically aren't tridents, but rather military forks. Forks were used extensively for military purposes up until the 19th century, with various European people developing their own distinct version of the military fork, along with an assortment of fighting styles which maximized the efficiency of this weapon. Forks had a number of uses beyond being pure weapons; they could be used to lift and toss things, for example, much like the pitchforks which inspired them.