Study Help Full Glossary for the Iliad


aegis a shield borne by Zeus and later, by his daughter Athena and occasionally by Apollo; a sign of Zeus' protection.

Aeneas Trojan warrior, son of Anchises and Aphrodite. In legend, he is the only major Trojan warrior to escape from Troy.

Agenor Trojan warrior, one of Antenor's sons. Saved from Achilles by Apollo.

Aias the Greek forces in the Iliad have two Aiases (also known as Ajax). The stronger and more prominent one is Telamonian Aias, King from Salamis. He is a notable fighter often referred to as the Great Aias. Oilean Aias is from Locris and is sometimes called Little Aias.

ambrosia the food of the gods.

Antenor one of the Trojan elders; advises Priam.

aristeia the greatest battle of a hero. For example, Diomedes' aristeia occurs in Book V; Achilles' aristeia ends the Iliad.

bastard not a pejorative term for an illegitimate child but more of a description. Bastard children were acknowledged and honored, although they were not considered royalty.

battalion a large group of soldiers arrayed for battle.

Bellerophon hero from Corinth who killed the Chimaera.

black ashes the black ashes in this book are symbolic of death and mourning.

bossed shield decorated with raised ornaments. The more modern term would be embossed.

boundary stones boulders used to mark property lines in Greek communities.

bravado blustering, swaggering conduct; the pretense of bravery. Much of the boasting in battle is a type of bravado.

brazen made of brass or bronze.

breastplate a piece of armor for the breast.

bronze alloy of copper and tin. Frequently used in metalworking and decoration at the time of the Trojan War. Bronze was often used as a symbol in Greek literature for the age of the Trojan War, i.e., the Bronze Age.

brooch an ornament held by a pin or clasp and worn near the neck.

buckler a small, round shield held by a handle or worn on the arm. Buckler seems to be synonymous with any shield in the Iliad.

car chariot.

carrion birds any birds that scavenge on dead flesh (carrion) such as vultures or crows.

casque a helmet; In anatomy the casque refers to a helmet-like body part; Homer, often refers to the skull with this term.

Catalogue of Ships list of Greek kings and their countries in Book II. This listing of a group of warriors, countries, or other items is a relatively common epic device.

Cebriones one of Priam's bastard sons, killed by Achilles.

charioteer the driver of a chariot. The fighter was not responsible for driving, only for fighting.

Chimaera a monster with a lion's head, a snake's tail, and a goat's body, killed by Bellerophon.

Chiron wise centaur (part horse, part human) who taught Achilles.

cortege a ceremonial procession, such as at a funeral.

Crete island in the Mediterranean Sea south of Greece. Legendary home of King Minos, the labyrinth, and the Minotaur. In the Iliad, it is the kingdom of Idomeneus.

Cronus early god in Greek mythology. Son of Uranus and father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, and Demeter.

Deiphobus son of Priam, brother of Hektor; wisely advises Hektor to return within the walls of Troy.

dirge a slow, sad song, poem, or musical composition expressing grief or mourning; lament.

distaff a staff on which fibers, such as flax or wool, are wound before being spun into thread.

Doloneia name sometimes given to Book X for the Trojan character Dolon who is killed by Odysseus and Diomede.

driver another term for charioteer.

embassy a mission, especially one undertaken by an ambassador. The warriors in Book IX are symbolic ambassadors from Agamemnon to Achilles.

epic simile a simile is a comparison using like or as. An epic simile is an extended simile that may go on for ten, twenty, or more lines and may contain multiple points of comparison.

epithets a descriptive name or title. Phrases such as "breaker of horses," "long-haired," or "well-greaved," are frequently associated with a particular character or sometimes warrior group. The epithet was an epic device or convention that helped the poet in the oral composition process.

funeral games athletic contests held as part of the ritual of an important warrior's funeral.

funeral pyre a pile, especially of wood, on which a dead body is burned in a funeral rite.

Furies avenging spirits, often used as symbols of a destructive, guilty conscience, especially in matters involving wrongs within a family. The Furies typically exacted vengeance when no human agent was available to do so.

Glaucus Trojan ally who commands the Lycians.

God of the Earthquake Poseidon.

gold, two-handled urn a vase used to hold ashes and other remains of a dead warrior.

greaves armor for the leg from the ankle to the knee worn by Homeric warriors.

Hephaistos Greek God of Fire and Forge; compare to Vulcan in Roman mythology.

herald an official messenger, usually allowed to pass through enemy lines to deliver a message.

Hermes often called the Messenger God, he acted as the Guide, such as in Book XXIV, taking Priam to Achilles' tent.

hospitality the tradition of hospitality demanded that even enemies provide protection for guests and hosts. This tradition carries on into the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries.

ichor the ethereal fluid flowing instead of blood in the veins of the gods.

Ida central mountain in the Troad range. Favorite seat of Zeus. Ida is probably the second most frequently mentioned mountain in the Iliad after Olympos.

intractable not tractable; specifically, a) hard to manage; unruly or stubborn b) hard to work, manipulate, cure, or treat; often used in describing Achilles.

Iris messenger goddess, usually for Zeus.

Kalchas Greek prophet or seer. Originally told Agamemnon that he must sacrifice Iphigeneia for Greeks to be able to sail to Troy. Tells Agamemnon that Chryseis must be returned to her father.

lion lions and other large beasts of prey were common in ancient Greece and Asia Minor.

locusts any of various large grasshoppers; specifically, a migratory grasshopper often traveling in great swarms and destroying nearly all vegetation in areas visited.

loom a machine for weaving thread or yarn into cloth. Both the distaff and loom are associated with women in the Iliad.

Lykaon son of Priam though not of Hekuba. He is killed by Achilles in a poignant scene.

Machaon son of the famous healer Asclepius. Machaon is from Thessalia and is often used as a healer in the Iliad.

Maenad a female votary of Dionysus who took part in the wild, orgiastic rites that characterized his worship; bacchante.

Muses nine goddesses, daughters of Zeus, who preside over various art forms. Homer invokes the Muse of Epic Poetry.

Mycenae Achaian kingdom of Agamemnon. Mycenae was probably the most famous of all the Greek kingdoms.

Myrmidons soldiers commanded by Achilles.

Nereids daughters of the sea-god, Nereus.

Niobe Phrygian woman whose twelve children were killed by Apollo and Artemis. Niobe is usually associated with mourning and weeping.

Ocean River the Greeks conceived of the ocean as a river rising in the west and encircling the world.

Old Man of the Sea Nereus, father of Thetis and the Nereids.

Olympiad the athletic contests held near Mount Olympos in honor of the gods. The funeral games of Patroklos seem to be based on the contests of the Olympiad.

omen a sign of impending doom. Natural events, such as the flight of an eagle, were often seen as omens.

oratory oratory, the art of speaking, was one of the classical areas of learning for ancient Greeks. A classical oratory consisted of prescribed sections: exordium, narratio, and conformatio. (See the Analysis on Book IX for a discussion of these terms.)

Orion's Dog the Dog Star, Sirius, named for the dog of the mythological hunter, Orion.

Panic god who personifies fear and riot among the troops.

pathetic fallacy in literature, the attribution of human feelings and characteristics to inanimate things (for example, the angry sea, a stubborn door). While the weeping horses of Achilles could be called personification, they are more precisely examples of pathetic fallacy.

Peleus father of Achilles; King of the Myrmidons.

Phoebus One of several names of Apollo.

Phoenix tutor and friend of Achilles.

Polydamous one of the Trojan commanders.

ransom payment to make up for death or to secure the return of a dead body; sometimes referred to in the Iliad as "man money."

Ruin (Ate) Ruin or Ate is a personified goddess who represents "delusion" or "madness" and the destruction that can result. Ruin is used by Agamemnon to explain his inexplicable actions toward Achilles.

Sarpedon Trojan ally, co-commander of the Lycians, killed by Patroklos. He was a son of Zeus.

Scaean Gate the main gates of the city of Troy.

Scamander river that flows through the plain on which Troy is located.

scepter a rod or staff, highly ornamented, held by rulers on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of sovereignty. The passing of the scepter to a person by the herald indicated permission to speak.

Selli prophets who serve Zeus.

shield a flat, usually broad, piece of metal or wood carried in the hand or worn on the forearm to ward off blows or missiles. The shields used by Homeric warriors could be the small, round, metal buckler or the larger, oval, ox-hide constructions that protected the entire body.

Sleep god who is the brother of Death.

Smintheus another name, or epithet, for Apollo. This title is often translated as "Mouse God" and relates to Apollo's role in the plague in Book I.

Son of Cronus epithet for Zeus. Cronus the Titan was Zeus' father.

spear a weapon consisting of a long wooden shaft with a sharp point, usually of metal or stone, for thrusting or throwing. The Homeric warriors fight mainly with a large thrusting spear that is sometimes thrown. Swords, bows, and arrows are less frequently used.

Styx, River of the Underworld Achilles was dipped in it by Thetis, making him invulnerable except for his heel. Gods also swore oaths by the River Styx.

tactician epithet frequently used with Odysseus to emphasize his intellectual and practical abilities.

Tartarus lowest part of the Greek underworld where Zeus' defeated enemies were sent.

theomachy a battle of the gods, frequently used in mythological traditions.

Thersites Greek soldier who verbally criticizes Agamemnon. He is ugly and somewhat deformed and treated as a comic character. He is the only common soldier to have a speaking role in the Iliad. He is put down both verbally and physically by Odysseus.

Thetis sea goddess, daughter of Nereus; immortal mother of Achilles.

threshing floor floor or platform where seed was separated from a plant by striking the plant against the hard surface.

triple-flanged a flange is a ridge used for guiding a projectile. The Greek arrows have three edges or flanges.

tripod three-legged iron pot, used for cooking.

tunic a loose, gownlike garment worn by men and women in ancient Greece and Rome.

wall Troy is a fortress, surrounded by an almost impregnable wall of stone that Poseidon helped construct. The Greeks made a wall of rocks, sand, and wood to protect their ships. The Greek wall is the one most often referred to in the Iliad.

Xanthus another name for the River Scamander.

yoke pads part of the accoutrements for harnessed oxen. The yoke pads kept the yokes from digging into the animal's skin.

Zeus' conquests Danae, Ixion's wife, Europa, Semele, Alcmena, Demeter, and Leto are all listed by Zeus as sexual conquests. This list is his strange means of seducing his wife, Hera.