Roman god, ruler of the sea. One of the great traditions of the sea occurred when the ship crossed the Equator. If there were any "green hands" aboard, the ship reduced sail, which allowed an old crew member dressed up as King Neptune to climb aboard over the side of the ship and initiate those who had never before crossed the Equator. Initiation included being bound and blindfolded, having tar spread on your whiskers, having them "shaved" with a rusty razor blade, then being dropped in a big tub of salt water. With that, the green hand was a member of the Order of the Sons of Neptune. This 19th century ceremony transforming 'pollywogs' into 'shellbacks' still occurs on naval vessels.