Proteus, a minor sea-god or ‘Old Man of the Sea’, herdsman of seals. At *Homer, Odyssey 4. 349–570 *Menelaus (1) encounters him on the island of Pharos off the coast of Egypt. The god takes on various shapes in an effort to escape (his shape-changing became proverbial), but Menelaus holds him fast and forces him to answer questions. This episode must have been the subject of *Aeschylus' Proteus, the satyr-play of the Oresteia. Later writers, including *Virgil, who imitates the Homeric account at Georgics 4. 387–529, associate the god with *Chalcidice.
At *Herodotus (1) 2. 112–20, however (cf. Eur.Hel. 4), Proteus is not a god but a virtuous Egyptian king, who keeps *Helen with him for the duration of the Trojan War.Less
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