Study Help Full Glossary for The Odyssey


Achaeans here, a collective name for all Greeks, including Ithacans.

Achilles famed warrior, hero of Homer's Iliad.

Ajax (4.560) the Greek warrior whose offense at Athena's temple resulted in Odysseus' wanderings; not to be confused with the Great Ajax, whom Odysseus defeated in the contest for Achilles' armor.

ambrosia food of the gods, thought to grant immortality.

Aphrodite goddess of love and beauty, daughter of Zeus.

Apollo god of archery and patron of the arts.

Ares god of war, lover of Aphrodite.

Argive another term for Greek.

Argo ship of the Argonauts.

Argos here, a region in the northeastern Peloponnesus.

Artemis virgin goddess of the hunt and moon, twin sister of Apollo.

bellwether a ram, usually castrated, that wears a bell around its neck and is followed by the other sheep.

brine sea water, salt water.

buckler a small, usually round shield that is carried or worn on the arm or shoulder.

Cauconians people living to the southwest of Pylos.

cauldron a large kettle or vat.

Centaur a mythological creature that is part man, part horse.

Cephallenians Fagles and Knox (p. 525) point out that the term is used to refer to all of Odysseus' subjects, but specifically residents of an island west of Ithaca that is part of his kingdom.

charlatan an impostor, fraud or fake.

Cnossos a major city on Crete.

Creon king of Thebes, successor to Oedipus.

Crete an island in the Mediterranean off the southeastern coast of Greece.

Cronus a primordial god who ruled the world until dethroned by his son Zeus.

Ctimene Odysseus' younger sister.

Cyprus an island in the Mediterranean off southern Turkey.

Cythera a Greek island located between the Peloponnesus and Crete.

dam the female parent of any four-legged animal.

Dionysus god of wine for whom a cult is named, celebrating the power and fertility of nature.

distant deadly Archer Apollo.

Dulichion island near Ithaca.

Echetus a mainland Greek king known for his cruelty.

Elis a region in the northwestern Peloponnesus near Pylos.

Ethiopians the people of Ethiopia, an empire in eastern Africa.

fathom a unit of length equal to six feet, used to measure the depth of water.

flotilla a small fleet of ships or small boats.

hallmark a stamp of genuineness or excellence.

Helen of Argos the same Helen whose abduction from Sparta brought on the Trojan War. By the time of The Odyssey, she is the somewhat matronly queen of Sparta and content to be the wife of King Menelaus.

Hera sister and wife of Zeus.

Hermes herald and messenger of the gods, guide of deceased souls to the Land of the Dead.

Icmalius a chair maker and wood craftsman on Ithaca.

Idomeneus commander of the warriors from Crete at Troy.

in your cups drunk, inebriated.

Ionian refers to people of the northeastern Peloponnesus.

Ismarus an ancient seaport on the Aegean Sea, north and slightly west of Troy, home of the Cicones.

Jason captain of the Argo and leader of the Argonauts in quest of the Golden Fleece; husband of Medea.

javelin a light spear designed for throwing.

King Priam king of Troy, killed when the city fell to the Greeks.

King Priam's craggy city Troy; "craggy" refers to a steep incline of rocks, a barrier.

Leda a queen of Sparta and the mother, by Zeus in the form of a swan, of Helen and Pollux.

libations liquids poured in offering to a god or gods as part of a religious ritual.

Libya a kingdom in northern Africa.

lowing mooing of cattle.

Malea southeastern cape of the Peloponnesus.

Messene a city in Menelaus' kingdom of Lacedaemon in the southern Peloponnesus.

moly an herb of magic powers.

Mycenae Agamemnon's capital city, in the northeastern Peloponnesus of ancient Greece.

Myrmidons legendary Greek warriors of ancient Thessaly who followed their king, Achilles, into the Trojan War.

naiads any of several nymphs living in and presiding over bodies of water.

Nestor ruler of Pylos and eldest of the Greek leaders.

Nile a major river in Egypt, extending into other parts of eastern Africa.

nymph a female nature spirit or goddess.

Oedipus Abandoned at birth and raised by the king of Corinth, he unwittingly killed his father and married his mother.

Ogygia Calypso's island in the middle of the sea.

Old Man of the Sea Proteus the shape-shifter, servant of Poseidon.

Olympus highest mountain in Greece and legendary home of the gods.

Orion mythological hunter or the constellation named after him.

Ortygia island where Artemis killed Orion.

Pandareus father of the nightingale. See Fagles and Knox (pp. 514-515) for a thorough consideration.

Parnassus a peak (about 8,060 feet high) in southern Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth.

pernicious deadly, destructive.

Perse a sea nymph, wife of the Sungod (Helios) and mother of Circe.

Persephone queen of the underworld.

Pharos island near the mouth of Egypt's Nile river.

Phoenician a person from ancient Phoenicia, a region along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

Phorcys an old sea god.

Pieria region located north of Mount Olympus.

Pleiades, Plowman, Great Bear, and Hunter constellations.

Poseidon in Greek mythology, god of the sea, younger brother of Zeus.

Pramnian a type of wine often used in potions or medicines.

Proteus the "Old Man of the Sea," a sea god and servant of Poseidon known for his ability to change shape.

pungent having a sharp or piercing taste or smell; also, causing sharp pain, especially to the feelings.

Pylos a seaport in the southwestern Peloponnesus in southern Greece, capital city of King Nestor.

Same island near Ithaca.

sceptered invested with authority or sovereignty.

shroud a cloth, often ornate, used to wrap a body for burial.

Sisyphus a cruel king condemned in Hades to the eternal, frustrating effort of rolling a huge stone uphill, only to have it always roll down again.

smoke ducts openings high on the walls to allow smoke to escape.

sodden thoroughly saturated, drunk.

Sparta inland city in southern Peloponnesus, located in Laconia, home of King Menelaus and Queen Helen.

squalls brief, sudden, and violent windstorms.

Styx one of the rivers of the Land of the Dead across which the souls of the dead are ferried.

suitors here, the men attempting to court Penelope.

Sungod Helios.

Tantalus a king punished in Hades by having to stand in water that recedes when he bends to drink it and beneath fruit that ascends when he reaches to eat it.

Thesprotia a region in northwestern Greece.

Thetis a sea goddess, the mother of Achilles.

Tithonus in ancient Greek mythology, husband of Dawn.

Troy an ancient city in Troas, northwestern Asia Minor, site of the Trojan War.

tunic a loose, gownlike garment, sleeved or sleeveless, hanging to the knees and worn by men as well as women.

winnow grain to separate the chaff from wheat or other grain, by tossing it and allowing the wind to blow the chaff away.

Zacynthus an island in Odysseus' kingdom, south of Ithaca.

Zeus king of the gods in ancient Greek mythology.