In Greek mythology, Poseidon carries a three-pronged spear known as a trident, while his brother Hades carries a two-pronged spear known as a bident. For that matter, the third brother Zeus carries the lightning bolt, which is often represented as a single-pronged spear or javelin.

To the ancient Greeks, was there meant to be a connection or a comparison in these weapons? The 1-2-3 pattern seems deliberate, but in a world where everyone used spears maybe this is just like three action heroes all carrying guns, without any implied connections between them?

  • What ancient Greek texts or artifacts associate Hades or Aidoneus with a bident? Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 14:41
  • The movie Clash of the Titans claimed there was. The three combined to form the spear of triam. clash-of-the-titans.fandom.com/wiki/Spear_of_Triam Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 16:52
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    This isn't an official answer, but the bident is sometimes shown being used as a capture-tool, pinning a person or trapping a body part between the two tines. No proof, but the prison-like nature of the afterlife might lend itself well to a tool used to manipulate prisoners. The agricultural use of a bident is to turn the soil, appropriate for a god of the underworld and the grave.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 19:09

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia

The Romans drew on Etruscan traditions for the interpretation of these signs. A tile found at Urbs Salvia in Picenum depicts an unusual composite Jove, "fairly bristling with weapons": a lightning bolt, a bident, and a trident, uniting the realms of sky, earth, and sea, and representing the three degrees of ominous lightning (see also Summanus).

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