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Glossary of Ancient Quarrels

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Created by SPANISH CASO

Achilles
The son of the military man Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis.
Agamemnon
King of Mycenae and leader of the Achaean army; brother of King Menelaus of Sparta. Arrogant and often selfish, Agamemnon provides the Achaeans with strong but sometimes reckless and self-serving leadership. Like Achilles, he lacks consideration and forethought. Most saliently, his tactless appropriation of Achilles’ war prize, the maiden Briseis, creates a crisis for the Achaeans, when Achilles, insulted, withdraws from the war.
Patroclus
Achilles’ beloved friend, companion, and advisor, Patroclus grew up alongside the great warrior in Phthia, under the guardianship of Peleus. Devoted to both Achilles and the Achaean cause, Patroclus stands by the enraged Achilles but also dons Achilles’ terrifying armor in an attempt to hold the Trojans back.
Oddyseus
A fine warrior and the cleverest of the Achaean commanders. Along with Nestor, Odysseus is one of the Achaeans’ two best public speakers. He helps mediate between Agamemnon and Achilles during their quarrel and often prevents them from making rash decisions.
Diomedes
The youngest of the Achaean commanders, Diomedes is bold and sometimes proves impetuous. After Achilles withdraws from combat, Athena inspires Diomedes with such courage that he actually wounds two gods, Aphrodite and Ares.
Ajax
An Achaean commander, Great Ajax (sometimes called “Telamonian Ajax” or simply “Ajax”) is the second mightiest Achaean warrior after Achilles. His extraordinary size and strength help him to wound Hector twice by hitting him with boulders. He often fights alongside Little Ajax, and the pair is frequently referred to as the “Aeantes.”
little ajax
An Achaean commander, Little Ajax is the son of Oileus (to be distinguished from Great Ajax, the son of Telamon). He often fights alongside Great Ajax, whose stature and strength complement Little Ajax’s small size and swift speed. The two together are sometimes called the “Aeantes.”
Nestor
King of Pylos and the oldest Achaean commander. Although age has taken much of Nestor’s physical strength, it has left him with great wisdom. He often acts as an advisor to the military commanders, especially Agamemnon. Nestor and Odysseus are the Achaeans’ most deft and persuasive orators, although Nestor’s speeches are sometimes long-winded.
Menelaus
King of Sparta; the younger brother of Agamemnon. While it is the abduction of his wife, Helen, by the Trojan prince Paris that sparks the Trojan War, Menelaus proves quieter, less imposing, and less arrogant than Agamemnon. Though he has a stout heart, Menelaus is not among the mightiest Achaean warriors.
Idomeneus
King of Crete and a respected commander. Idomeneus leads a charge against the Trojans in Book 13.
Peleus
Achilles’ father and the grandson of Zeus. Although his name often appears in the epic, Peleus never appears in person. Priam powerfully invokes the memory of Peleus when he convinces Achilles to return Hector’s corpse to the Trojans in Book 24.
Hektor
A son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, Hector is the mightiest warrior in the Trojan army. He mirrors Achilles in some of his flaws, but his bloodlust is not so great as that of Achilles. He is devoted to his wife, Andromache, and son, Astyanax, but resents his brother Paris for bringing war upon their family and city.
Priam
King of Troy and husband of Hecuba, Priam is the father of fifty Trojan warriors, including Hector and Paris. Though too old to fight, he has earned the respect of both the Trojans and the Achaeans by virtue of his level-headed, wise, and benevolent rule. He treats Helen kindly, though he laments the war that her beauty has sparked.
Hecuba
Queen of Troy, wife of Priam, and mother of Hector and Paris.
Paris
A son of Priam and Hecuba and brother of Hector. Paris’s abduction of the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus, sparked the Trojan War. Paris is self-centered and often unmanly. He fights effectively with a bow and arrow (never with the more manly sword or spear) but often lacks the spirit for battle and prefers to sit in his room making love to Helen while others fight for him, thus earning both Hector’s and Helen’s scorn.
Helen
Reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the ancient world, Helen left her husband, Menelaus, to run away with Paris. She loathes herself now for the misery that she has caused so many Trojan and Achaean men. Although her contempt extends to Paris as well, she continues to stay with him.
Aeneas
- A Trojan nobleman, the son of Aphrodite, and a mighty warrior. The Romans believed that Aeneas later founded their city (he is the protagonist of Virgil’s masterpiece the Aeneid).
Andromache
- Hector’s loving wife, Andromache begs Hector to withdraw from the war and save himself before the Achaeans kill him.
Polydamas
A young Trojan commander, Polydamas sometimes figures as a foil for Hector, proving cool-headed and prudent when Hector charges ahead. Polydamas gives the Trojans sound advice, but Hector seldom acts on it.
Chryseis
Chryses’ daughter, a priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town.
Briseis
A war prize of Achilles. When Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis to her father, he appropriates Briseis as compensation, sparking Achilles’ great rage.
Chryses
A priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town; the father of Chryseis, whom Agamemnon takes as a war prize.
Zeus
King of the gods and husband of Hera, Zeus claims neutrality in the mortals’ conflict and often tries to keep the other gods from participating in it. However, he throws his weight behind the Trojan side for much of the battle after the sulking Achilles has his mother, Thetis, ask the god to do so.
Hera
- Queen of the gods and Zeus’s wife, Hera is a conniving, headstrong woman. She often goes behind Zeus’s back in matters on which they disagree, working with Athena to crush the Trojans, whom she passionately hates.
Athena
- The goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle, and the womanly arts; Zeus’s daughter. Like Hera, Athena passionately hates the Trojans and often gives the Achaeans valuable aid.
Thetis
A sea-nymph and the devoted mother of Achilles, Thetis gets Zeus to help the Trojans and punish the Achaeans at the request of her angry son. When Achilles finally rejoins the battle, she commissions Hephaestus to design him a new suit of armor.
Apollo
A son of Zeus and twin brother of the goddess Artemis, Apollo is god of the arts and archery. He supports the Trojans and often intervenes in the war on their behalf.
Aphrodite

Goddess of love and daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite is married to Hephaestus but maintains a romantic relationship with Ares. She supports Paris and the Trojans throughout the war, though she proves somewhat ineffectual in battle.
Poseidon
The brother of Zeus and god of the sea. Poseidon holds a long-standing grudge against the Trojans because they never paid him for helping them to build their city. He therefore supports the Achaeans in the war.
Hephaestus
God of fire and husband of Aphrodite, Hephaestus is the gods’ metalsmith and is known as the lame or crippled god. Although the text doesn’t make clear his sympathies in the mortals’ struggle, he helps the Achaeans by forging a new set of armor for Achilles and by rescuing Achilles during his fight with a river god.
Artemis
Goddess of the hunt, daughter of Zeus, and twin sister of Apollo. Artemis supports the Trojans in the war.
Ares
God of war and lover of Aphrodite, Ares generally supports the Trojans in the war.
Hermes
The messenger of the gods. Hermes escorts Priam to Achilles’ tent in Book 24.
Oddysseus - Oddyssey
Odysseus has the defining character traits of a Homeric leader: strength, courage, nobility, a thirst for glory, and confidence in his authority. His most distinguishing trait, however, is his sharp intellect. Odysseus’s quick thinking helps him out of some very tough situations, as when he escapes from the cave of the Cyclops in Book 9, or when he hides his slaughter of the suitors by having his minstrel strike up a wedding tune in Book 23. He is also a convincing, articulate speaker and can win over or manipulate his audience with ease. When he first addresses Nausicaa on the island of Scheria, for example, his suave, comforting approach quickly wins her trust.


Like other Homeric heroes, Odysseus longs to win kleos (“glory” won through great deeds), but he also wishes to complete his nostos (“homecoming”). He enjoys his luxurious life with Calypso in an exotic land, but only to a point. Eventually, he wants to return home, even though he admits that his wife cannot compare with Calypso. He thinks of home throughout the time he spends with the Phaeacians and also while on Circe’s island. Sometimes his glory-seeking gets in the way of his home-seeking, however. He sacks the land of the Cicones but loses men and time in the process. He waits too long in the cave of Polyphemus, enjoying the free milk and cheese he finds, and is trapped there when the Cyclops returns.

Homeric characters are generally static. Though they may be very complex and realistic, they do not change over the course of the work as characters in modern novels and stories do. Odysseus and especially Telemachus break this rule. Early in his adventures, Odysseus’s love of glory prompts him to reveal his identity to the Cyclops and bring Poseidon’s wrath down on him. By the end of the epic, he seems much more willing to temper pride with patience. Disguised as a beggar, he does not immediately react to the abuse he receives from the suitors. Instead, he endures it until the traps he has set and the loyalties he has secured put him in a position from which he can strike back effectively.






Telemachus
Just an infant when his father left for Troy, Telemachus is still maturing when the Odyssey begins. He is wholly devoted to his mother and to maintaining his father’s estate, but he does not know how to protect them from the suitors. After all, it has only been a few years since he first realized what the suitors’ intentions were. His meeting with Athena in Book 1 changes things. Aside from improving his stature and bearing, she teaches him the responsibilities of a young prince. He soon becomes more assertive. He confronts the suitors and denounces the abuse of his estate, and when Penelope and Eurycleia become anxious or upset, he does not shy away from taking control.

Telemachus never fully matches his father’s talents, at least not by the Odyssey’s conclusion. He has a stout heart and an active mind, and sometimes even a bit of a temper, but he never schemes with the same skill or speaks with quite the same fluency as Odysseus. In Book 22, he accidentally leaves a weapons storeroom unlocked, a careless mistake that allows the suitors to arm themselves. While Odysseus does make a few mistakes in judgment over the course of the epic, it is difficult to imagine him making such an absentminded blunder. Telemachus has not yet inherited his father’s brassy pride either. The scene with the bow captures the endpoint of his development perfectly. He tries and tries to string it, and very nearly does, but not quite. This episode reminds us that, at the close of the Odyssey, Telemachus still cannot match his father’s skills but is well on his way.



Penelope
Though she has not seen Odysseus in twenty years, and despite pressure the suitors place on her to remarry, Penelope never loses faith in her husband. Her cares make her somewhat flighty and excitable, however. For this reason, Odysseus, Telemachus, and Athena often prefer to leave her in the dark about matters rather than upset her. Athena must distract her, for instance, so that she does not discover Odysseus’s identity when Eurycleia is washing him. Athena often comes to her in dreams to reassure or comfort her, for Penelope would otherwise spend her nights weeping in her bed.


Though her love for Odysseus is unyielding, she responds to the suitors with some indecision. She never refuses to remarry outright. Instead, she puts off her decision and leads them on with promises that she will choose a new husband as soon as certain things happen. Her astute delaying tactics reveal her sly and artful side. The notion of not remarrying until she completes a burial shroud that she will never complete cleverly buys her time. Similarly, some commentators claim that her decision to marry whomever wins the archery contest of Book 21 results from her awareness that only her husband can win it. Some even claim that she recognizes her husband before she admits it to him in Book 23.




Poseidon - Odyssey
God of the sea. As the suitors are Odysseus’s mortal antagonists, Poseidon is his divine antagonist. He despises Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and constantly hampers his journey home. Ironically, Poseidon is the patron of the seafaring Phaeacians, who ultimately help to return Odysseus to Ithaca.
Antinous
The most arrogant of Penelope’s suitors. Antinous leads the campaign to have Telemachus killed. Unlike the other suitors, he is never portrayed sympathetically, and he is the first to die when Odysseus returns.
Eumaeus
he loyal shepherd who, along with the cowherd Philoetius, helps Odysseus reclaim his throne after his return to Ithaca. Even though he does not know that the vagabond who appears at his hut is Odysseus, Eumaeus gives the man food and shelter.
Amphinomus
Among the dozens of suitors, the only decent man seeking Penelope’s hand in marriage. Amphinomus sometimes speaks up for Odysseus and Telemachus, but he is killed like the rest of the suitors in the final fight.
Calypso
The beautiful nymph who falls in love with Odysseus when he lands on her island-home of Ogygia. Calypso holds him prisoner there for seven years until Hermes, the messenger god, persuades her to let him go.
Polyphemus

One of the Cyclopes (uncivilized one-eyed giants) whose island Odysseus comes to soon after leaving Troy. Polyphemus imprisons Odysseus and his crew and tries to eat them, but Odysseus blinds him through a clever ruse and manages to escape. In doing so, however, Odysseus angers Polyphemus’s father, Poseidon.
Circe
The beautiful witch-goddess who transforms Odysseus’s crew into swine when he lands on her island. With Hermes’ help, Odysseus resists Circe’s powers and then becomes her lover, living in luxury at her side for a year.
Laertes
Odysseus’s aging father, who resides on a farm in Ithaca. In despair and physical decline, Laertes regains his spirit when Odysseus returns and eventually kills Antinous’s father.
Tiresias
A Theban prophet who inhabits the underworld. Tiresias meets Odysseus when Odysseus journeys to the underworld in Book 11. He shows Odysseus how to get back to Ithaca and allows Odysseus to communicate with the other souls in Hades.
Alcinous
King of the Phaeacians, who offers Odysseus hospitality in his island kingdom of Scheria. Alcinous hears the story of Odysseus’s wanderings and provides him with safe passage back to Ithaca.
Xenophanes
But if cattle and horses and lions had hands
or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do,
horses like horses and cattle like cattle
also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies
of such a sort as the form they themselves have.
...
Ethiopians say that their gods are snubnosed and black
Thracians that they are pale and red-haired.[6]










Anaxagoras
mind theories

"homer was an astrologer"

Sappho
"you burn me"

Lesbian love poems

Pindar
Lyric poetry
Oedipus
he protagonist of Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. Oedipus becomes king of Thebes before the action of Oedipus the King begins. He is renowned for his intelligence and his ability to solve riddles—he saved the city of Thebes and was made its king by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, the supernatural being that had held the city captive. Yet Oedipus is stubbornly blind to the truth about himself. His name’s literal meaning (“swollen foot”) is the clue to his identity—he was taken from the house of Laius as a baby and left in the mountains with his feet bound together. On his way to Thebes, he killed his biological father, not knowing who he was, and proceeded to marry Jocasta, his biological mother.

Jocasta
Oedipus’s wife and mother, and Creon’s sister. Jocasta appears only in the final scenes of Oedipus the King. In her first words, she attempts to make peace between Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to banish Creon. She is comforting to her husband and calmly tries to urge him to reject Tiresias’s terrifying prophecies as false. Jocasta solves the riddle of Oedipus’s identity before Oedipus does, and she expresses her love for her son and husband in her desire to protect him from this knowledge.
Creon
edipus’s brother-in-law, Creon appears more than any other character in the three plays combined. In him more than anyone else we see the gradual rise and fall of one man’s power. Early in Oedipus the King, Creon claims to have no desire for kingship. Yet, when he has the opportunity to grasp power at the end of that play, Creon seems quite eager. We learn in Oedipus at Colonus that he is willing to fight with his nephews for this power, and in Antigone Creon rules Thebes with a stubborn blindness that is similar to Oedipus’s rule. But Creon never has our sympathy in the way Oedipus does, because he is bossy and bureaucratic, intent on asserting his own authority.
Tiresias - Oedipus
Tiresias, the blind soothsayer of Thebes, appears in both Oedipus the King and Antigone. In Oedipus the King, Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and Oedipus does not believe him. In Antigone, Tiresias tells Creon that Creon himself is bringing disaster upon Thebes, and Creon does not believe him. Yet, both Oedipus and Creon claim to trust Tiresias deeply. The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the metaphorical blindness of those who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when they hear it spoken.
Chorus
Sometimes comically obtuse or fickle, sometimes perceptive, sometimes melodramatic, the Chorus reacts to the events onstage. The Chorus’s reactions can be lessons in how the audience should interpret what it is seeing, or how it should not interpret what it is seeing.
Prometheus
he protagonist of the play. Prometheus aided Zeus against his fellow Titans only to be punished for giving fire to human beings. Prometheus demonstrates the value of thought and knowledge in progress as well as in the opposition and temperance of tyrannical power. He is a rare example of a Greek tragic hero whose faults, such as excessive pride and stubbornness, ennoble him. Prometheus opposes Zeus because of his anger over his punishment, bolstered by his anger over the mistreatment of his brothers and Io. He is also driven to opposition by a belief in the value friendship. His friendship for humanity is the cause of his punishment, but he views as equally important Zeus's inability to recognize the importance of friendship. Prometheus shows that if intellect and force cannot work together, then intellect must oppose force, since it is useless if dominated by power.

Zeus - Prometheus Bound
Though he does not appear in the play, Zeus clearly deserves mention as a major character. He rules by his own laws, creating a world where no one but him can be free. Both the objects of his hatred and his love can easily fall to misfortune since Zeus, unfamiliar with sympathy and pity, does not concern himself with the welfare of others. Unable to rule through any means other than brute force, Zeus is presented as a perfect example of a fairly stupid but powerful tyrant who shows no regard for others not because he is evil but because he hasn't given it any thought. Zeus's servants take it for granted that everyone must be taught to love him and hate his enemies. Zeus's rule demands that his servants surrender any trace of individuality in obedience to his will.
IO
A victim of Zeus's love. Io is exiled from her home because Zeus wishes to deflower her. Transformed into a cow, she wanders the earth awaiting salvation. Io is seen as a parallel to Prometheus: though she suffers, in the end she will be freed and rewarded. Her descendant will free Prometheus, bonding their fates together. As the only human, despite being technically bovine, in the play, Io ties the cosmic conflict of gods to known human history and geography as Prometheus documents her wanderings and the future of her offspring.
Oceanus
Comfortable in his service to Zeus, Oceanus believes that one should not rock the boat but simply obey. He agrees that Zeus is too harsh and extends his sympathy to Prometheus with an offer of help. Something about Oceanus's advice and his demeanor seems a little off-putting, however. First, he suggests that one should simply give up and accept injustice rather than fighting it—Prometheus should stop being defiant and not provoke a stubborn and excessive Zeus. Second, Prometheus clearly does not trust Oceanus, telling him much less than he had told the Chorus only a moment ago. Oceanus, while counseling his friend and expressing sympathy, seems to be waiting to leave the entire time—he does not get off his winged animal and states that it is eager to fly home, as if his visit to Prometheus was only a chore on a long list.
Hesiod
Theogeny - Chaos - Love - People
Agenor
Helen's brother in law
. How does Homer portray the relationship between gods and men in the Odyssey? What roles do the gods play in human life? How does this portrayal differ from that found in the Iliad?
In the Iliad, the gods relate to human beings either as external powers that influence the lives of mortals from without, as when Apollo unleashes plague upon the Achaeans, or from within, as when Aphrodite incites Helen to make love to Paris or when Athena gives Diomedes courage in battle. In the Odyssey, the gods are often much less grand. They function more as spiritual guides and supporters for their human subjects, sometimes assuming mortal disguises in order to do so. The actions of the gods sometimes remain otherworldly, as when Poseidon decides to wreck the ship of the Phaeacians, but generally they grant direct aid to particular individuals. In a sense, the change in the behavior of the gods is wholly appropriate to the shift in focus between the two epics. The Iliad depicts a violent and glorious war, and the gods act as frighteningly powerful, supernatural forces. The Odyssey, in contrast, chronicles a long journey, and the gods frequently act to guide and advise the wandering hero.

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