To master the God of Changes, as Menelaus learned, you have to pin him down. Proteus will change his body rapidly under the weight of yours: a lion, a serpent, a leopard, a boar. Then, as he realizes you won’t let go, he will get desperate. His body will become flowing water and then a rooted tree, motion and fixity, the extremes of the spectrum. Finally: Proteus.

Even that form, though, may be an illusion. After all, for him to remain Proteus, he has to remain protean. Proteus in his native form is just a body suspending its transition. His one true form is the sum of all his past forms and all his forms to come.

Let his name shape-shift a little in the ear. Keep the capital P, keep the long O sound, keep the dactylic rhythm of it, but let everything else flicker. Proteus....


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