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Iliad Glossary
(with pronunciations indicated)

aegis- (Gk- goatskin; pron. ee'-jiss): in Greek mythology, a shield or breastplate covered with a goatskin and holding the actual head of Medusa (who could turn onlookers into stone), as well as other evil figures; it was used to overwhelm opponents with terror and was primarily the possession of   Zeus, but was also used by his daughter Athena (in Book 5, against the Trojans), and by his son Ares (in Book 15, against the Achaeans)

aidos- (Gk- respect, reverence, modesty; pron. eye'-doss): some scholars consider this to be "the central tenet of Homeric morality... respect for your fellow men... [the] demand that men must stand together" (Oxford scholar, C. M. Bowra, in Tradition and the Design of the Iliad); there is a famous line where Cicero says: "Part of us is claimed by our country, part by our parents, and part by our friends" (De Off. I.xvi);  we see a similar perspective and worldview throughout Homer's Iliad

allegory- there are a number of mysterious, allegorical figures which appear in the Iliad, characters with names such as "Terror," "Fear," and "Hate;" these figures seem to be personified emotions, names which represent the emotional forces at work in the individuals and events described in the Iliad; allegory is a literary device in which characters and events are used by a writer to teach or illustrate something, such as a moral or religious principle; in these cases Homer seems to be illustrating the destructive force of negative emotions

anger- there are a number of Greek terms which Homer could have used to refer to the anger of Achilles; the term which Homer used was menis, "vengefulness, implacable anger, undying rage;" as described in Homer's great epic, Achilles rage was so strong as serve as the central theme of the entire narrative; the great question raised by the epic is whether or not Achilles' rage was justified

aristeia- (Gk- best; pron. ar-iss-tee'-a): in Greek heroic literature this term (Gk, aristos, "best") refers to the soldier's highest moment of glory in war, when he fights so bravely and single-mindedly as to experience no fear and to appear nearly invincible; the aristeia is an account or excursus which describes this moment of glory, "the preeminent deeds of one particular hero," such as Diomedes (Books 5-6) or Achilles (Books 20-22) (see Fagles, Notes, p. 625, 5.11ff.) ithe emotional state of the warrior is a fighting frenzy which borders on madness and may ultimately threaten the hero's own life, tempting him to over-reach himself, even to forget which side he's fighting on, and to fall into moral blindness (see "ate" below)

ate- (Gk- blindness; ruin; pron. aw'-tay): in ancient Greek culture this term was used for criminal folly or reckless ambition of a man beyond his proper sphere; it can refer both to blind ambition, and also to that moral blindness which lacks the courage and humility to admit wrong and to ask forgiveness; in the Iliad, Book 9, Agamemnon confesses: "Mad, blind I was!" (IX.134) and Achilles' old friend Phoenix warns him about being "stiff-necked and harsh... blinded" (IX.621); in Greek mythology there was a goddess Ate (often translated "Ruin") who personified the fatal blindnesss and recklessness which produces crime, and the divine punishment which follows it and punishes it; Homer said that  Ate was the eldest daughter of Zeus, "that maddening goddess...who blinds us all," and that Zeus cast her out of heaven after she once blinded even him (XIX.106-158; see also Fagles, Intro., p. 54) 

fate(s)- (Gk- keres, fates of death): Fagles found that Homer used the term in two ways, both in an impersonal sense as "death, doom, a man's individual fate," and also in a personified sense as the "spirit of death;" in the latter sense Homer used the term in the plural for those "shadowy but potent figures who ultimately control the destiny of mortals;" they were supposed to derive from the decisions and declarations of the gods, thus making their outcome inevitable and determined; however, in the Iliad, one sees brave men struggle against their fate(s), and discover at least some measure of freedom to be able to influence or contribute to their destinies (e.g. Aeneas is said to struggle "against the will of fate" XX.383; see "gods" below)

gods- Most scholars think that Homer's post-Mycenaean audience did believe in the existence of the gods described in the Iliad, although they did not perhaps stand in very profound awe of them and were not terribly superstitious; on the one hand,  the gods (especially Zeus) were believed to hold the power of determining an impersonal "fate" for humans, but, one the other,   even Zeus himself was subject to, and struggled with, fate;   S

heroic code- the "heroic age" is a term often used to refer to the age of Greece and Rome and their heroes; the "heroic code" refers to the virtues which were embraced by these heroes (e.g. courage, loyalty, generosity, mercy, dignity, decency); as well as to the vices which they deplored (e.g. cowardice, treachery, selfishness, spite, pettiness, indecency); one of the hundreds of examples of the heroic code in the Iliad is when Achilles tells his friends: "I hate that man like the very Gates of Death who says one thing but hides another in his heart" (IX.378-379)t

honor- (Gk- time; pron. tih'-may): for the Greeks honor was a central virtue; it is the loss of honor which Achilles frequently mentions as the source of his rage; honor was the respect which was due according to one's reputation and rank; it also suggested a keen sense of right and wrong (see aidos above)   c

hubris- (Gk- pride, insolence, arrogance; pron. hee'-briss): there is an awareness in Greek heroic literature that the brave hero with a healthy self-esteem may over-reach his position in thinking too highly and too solely of himself; the question is, does Achilles fall into this error by clinging to his rage; in Book 9 Ajax accuses Achilles of harboring a pride which is "wild" and "savage," so excessive and out of control that he no longer has "a thought for his comrades' love" (IX.768-770); the old saying, "pride goeth before a fall," is from the Old Testament (Prov. 16:18-19; cf. 11:2), but it's truth is also illustrated throughout the Iliad; it appears that Homer would have agreed that: "A person's pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor" (Prov. 29:23) (see also aidos and ate).

muse- (Gk- a Muse, music, eloquence; pron. myooz): in Greek mythology, a goddess of artistic inspiration; any of the nine nymphs or inferior divinities who supervised and inspired the fine and liberal arts, including history, poetry, comedy, music,dancing, rhetoric, sacred hymns, and harmony

muthos- (Gk- tale, story, legend, myth, fable; pron. mee'-thoss): in Scripture myth is used only in a negative sense, for fabulous, false, and deceiving stories which undermine the truth and reality of the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:14; 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:16); "myth" is also used outside of Scripture, both negatively and positively; in the positive sense "myth" is used as a term for ancient, traditional stories, usually transmitted orally, which tell of incredible events in a deliberate manner against the background of a timeless past and involving supernatural events; C. S. Lewis contended that "myth... at its best is a real though unfocused gleam of divine truth falling on human imagination" (Miracles, Chap. 15, n. 1)

"Ruin"- see ate

sacred golden scales- at several points in the Iliad Zeus lifts up a pair of "sacred golden scales" to determine the outcome of a battle, into which he would place "two fates of death," one fate for each of the opposing sides (VIII.81; XXII.249); the side with the heaviest fate (of doom or death) at that point in time, presumably, would then loose that particular battle; the scales were used both to determine the outcome for an entire army as well as for a particular individual; in Book 8, the scales tip against the Achaeans, and they lose the battle, as Nestor says: "today at least" (VIII.161); in Book 22 the scales tip against Hector, "down went Hector's day of doom," and Hector lost his life (XXII.253); Zeus' use of such an objective instrument as a pair of scales seems to indicate that Zeus, and his author, Homer, recognized a higher power of justice (beyond the whims and decisions of the Greek gods) which determined right and wrong, and who ought to live and who to die