Glossary of the Iliad

Greek Terminology in the Iliad
Study Guide for Ancient Greek Literature Chats
At Ancient Sites Athens Community

Note: I do not know much Greek, and have derived these definitions from commentaries,
particularly Seth Schein's The Mortal Hero, recommended by Maia Nestor, and
Graham Zanker's The Heart of Achilles. Also, rather than use special fonts
and/or character symbols, I have left off accents on Greek letters. Please feel free to
email me any additional recommendations or corrections, or to inquire about
our online chats on ancient Greek and Roman literature and mythology.

A-B     C-G     H-L      M-P      R-X

aasamen - being deluded (as Agamemnon admitting his self-delusion when taking
            Briseis from Achilles)
achos - remorse
agathoi, agathos - people of superior social status or noble station
aidos, aidomai, aidestheis - shame leading one to treat others with respect due to
            their status in the social world; fear of condemnation and disapproval of 
            one's social group
ainarete - the dreaded expression of arete or heroic excellence, leading to negative
           consequences which fail to serve the community
aisa - doom (as in regard to Achilles doomed to a short life)
akedees - uncaring; also means not giving due burial
akos - the remedy for a situation
anax andron - lord of men (said of Agamemnon)
androphonoio - manslaughtering

anthos - to flower and bloom (applied to young men)
apotino- paying the penalty, as for a breach of a treaty, or paying a compensation,
             as for a murder, so that one can regain acceptance to one's community
arete - excellence, virtue (within one's social context); being the best you can be;
             also used to indicate courage and military prowess, derived from Ares
             see also
aristeia - excellence, prowess as a warrior
aristos - to be the best; a man of excellence
atasthaliai - recklessness, as in too extreme an obsession with personal glory
atimus, atimazo - without honor, treating someone dishonorably
atuzomoi - terrified, as in taking flight (men at war, Astyanax)
basileus - king
bie - violence; forceful power

charis - gratitude, kindness
charme - delight, especially delight in battle
cholos - anger, wrath
damazo - to subjugate or dominate (a woman, a city or people)
dike - justice
dios - brilliant (Odysseus in cleverness, Achilles in battle)
eleaire, eleeson, eleairo, eleos - pity (not our current usage of the word pity
          in English, but also related to the source of the word, piety); a combination
          of compassionate feeling and feeling related to virtue or moral obligation
          (also related to oiktos or oiktiro)

enees - amiable (Patroclus)
epios - gentle (said of Patroclus, and at times, Priam); in Homeric times, one
          generally seeks to be gentle when warranted with one's people, but
          harsh with the enemy
eris - strife, often referred to as soul-destroying
esthlos - brave, noble
eubolia - excellent counsel (Odysseus, Nestor, Phoinix)
eugenes - of noble birth
fatum - fate, see also moira
gera - gifts of honor

hamartia - "missing the mark"; error in judgment
helot - slave, has no rights
hemitheoi - demigods
heros - live in die in pursuit of honor and glory
hippodamoi - tamers of horses (Hector, the Trojans)
hire - sacred
hubris - excess pride or arrogance, usually leading to ruin (a serious flaw in 
       Greek heroes); excess of pride which shows disrespect for gods and man
hupermoiran - seemingly beyond one's portion, acting in a way as if to seem 
             to transcend fate
ise moira - an equal portion of moira or fate

kakos - coward, base
kalon - noble; following the aristocratic agasthos standard of virtuous behavior
karteros - mighty
kedistui - bonds of close association (but not as close as philoi)
kemai - lie dead
ker - one's destined path
klea andron - famous deeds of heroes
kleos esthlon - noble glory
kleos - glory, often implying fame and immortality (in the memory of others),
       achieved as a result of one's time (acts of excellence meriting honor)
kolpos - riverbed; also a woman's nurturing bosom
kratos - possessing higher social status
kredemna - battlements, also a woman's veil, emblem of her chastity
       NOTE: The term kredemnon luesthai means both to sack a city and 
       to breach female chastity.
kudos - triumphant power or success resulting in glory, prestige and high rank
leistos - spoils or booty, as of war

makares - blessed
mechos - a device, mechanism or means
menie, menis - overpowering vengeful wrath, often more than human
menos - energy, strength
metis - cunning (Odysseus)
minunthadios - short-lived (said of Achilles)
moira - fate, or one's allotment in terms of fate (often portrayed as negative 
        in the Iliad, and associated with doom or death; dissimilar to western 
        conceptions of destiny); derived from Moira, the impersonal goddess
        of destiny, as of Hesiod, considered to be the Moirae, the three Fates 
        (Clotho, Atropo and Lachesis);
        see also

neikos - shame-based public rebuke
nemesis - the indignation of the gods, often resulting from humans asserting
       themselves beyond their station (after Nemesis, the avenging goddess,
       who expressed righteous anger toward the proud and insolent)
nemesetos, nemesseton - eager to anger; expressing indignation
nepios - acting like  fool
oikos - household
oiktiro,  oiktos - pity; see eleeson
okumoros - fated to have a short life
oloos - accursedly desteructive, usually applied to destructive forces of nature, 
        but applied here to Agamemnon when he steals Briseis from Achilles, and 
        Achilles after Patroclus' death

phaidimos - shining (Hector, Achilles)
phertoros - one who is more powerful
philos, philotes - friendship, used particularly to indicate family and friendship
       ties with those of the same group, involving affection and usually implying 
       explicit or implicit expectations of reciprocity
philophrosune - friendly cooperation
pothe - desire or longing (the Greeks desiring that Achilles will return to action)
ptoliporthos - sacker of cities (Achilles, Odysseus)
podus okos OR poas tachus - swiftfooted (Achilles)
poine - payment, as compensation for death
polis - a social community or city-state, as Troy
        see also
polumetis - resourceful (Odysseus)
psuche - soul, wind-breath, life-breath, what makes a person alive (and no
        longer exists after death)

rechthentos - harm, leading to negative consequences
rheia - living easily (the gods in contrast to men)
sebas - shame; also revulsion, as against the enemy, for mutiliating corpses
tarchuo - to treat as one of the gods
tarchusousi - to solemnly bury, originally meaning to make a hero of someone,
        to treat him as a god
thanatoio - one's portion of death
thumos - one's heart
time - honor; also meaning value, attributed to a person (as Achilles' time); 
        public acknowledgement of one's value/glory through awarding prizes;
        acclaim for achieving excellence (arete) in battle, sport or council;
        is often competitive; as in the Iliad, personal time can conflict with
        the time of one's community
xenie, xeinios, xeinia - hospitality, related to the tie between guest and hosts,
        and involving obligation and giving of gifts

Any Greek scholars available? Contributions welcome!

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Last updated September 24, 2006.

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