The Krewe of Proteus, which was founded in 1882, is one of the most resplendent street parades that one can see these days. Proteus (pronounced as “PROH tee us”) derives its name from the mythological deity, a sea god, who is also known as the “The Shepherd of the Oceans”. The Krewe of Proteus is a beautiful parade that can be seen in New Orleans Mardi Gras and is often regarded as the second oldest parade there.
The term Proteus derives from the Olympian theology, wherein Proteus is regarded as the son of Poseidon and in other places Proteus is regarded as the sun of ”Oceanus and a Naiad” or of “Nereus and Doris”. Proteus, the herdsman of the seals of Poseidon, represented by what is known as the great bull seal, can be seen at the centre most position of the harem. Proteus, also known as the Old man of the Sea, is said to have stayed on the islands of the Pharaoh which are located near Egypt. There, he was said to be the herdsman to the seals of the Poseidon.
Proteus was said to be capable of changing his form or shape and he was said to only answer to anyone who was competent enough to be able to capture him. This lead to the formation of the term Protean, which is an adjective with the meaning adaptable, mutable, flexible, versatile and capable of or tending to change in form, shape or nature. He was also capable of changing his shape and could thus assume the form of anything or any person that he chose.
Proteus, a prophet, when captured would acquire his usual self, which was an elderly man and would then tell the future to his captors. But in order to prevent his capture and prophesy he would disguise himself very rapidly in any possible form.
Astronomically, Proteus is a satellite of Neptune which was only recently discovered by Stephen Synnott, but it wasn’t discovered from the Earth as such. The reason is, Proteus with a diameter of 250 miles or 400 kilometres lies extremely close to its parent planet, Neptune and cannot be seen as it is obscured by the reflected light of the Sun. Proteus orbits Neptune in the direction of Neptune’s rotation at a distance of approximately 57,000 miles and performs one revolution around it in just over a day, 27 hours. At all times of its revolution Proteus remains near the equatorial plane of Neptune.
Proteus, like its counterparts, the other satellites of the Neptune is described “as dark as soot”. This is because of the fact that, like Pheobe, Saturn’s satellite, Proteus too reflects only about 6% of the sunlight that reflects upon it and is considered in our solar system as one of the darkest objects present. Proteus is as big as it is possible for a satellite to remain in an irregular shape. It shows no signs of being pulled by its own gravity into a sphere.
The Krewe of Proteus follows the custom where the Krewe members who wear masked costumes invite the ladies present onto the dance floor. This tradition of ‘call outs’ was started in the year 1893 by the Krewe of Proteus. It was later adopted by other Krewes which includes the Rex. The King of Proteus’s identity is kept a secret from the public.
The Krewe of Proteus has been a part of New Orleans Carnival scene for many generations but didn’t parade from the year 1993-1999. The Krewe of Proteus returned in the year 2000 on Lundi Gras which is the Monday before the Mardi Gras day. The Parade floats on the “Traditional Uptown or St. Charles Route ending on Canal Street” in a giant Seashell.