Analysis Pages

Vocabulary in The Odyssey

Vocabulary Examples in The Odyssey:

Book I

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"soothsayer..."   (Book I)

"Sooth" means truth, so a soothsayer is literally a "truth-teller" and acts like a fortune teller. In ancient Greek and Shakespearean tragedies, soothsayers were wise men who foretold the future, but often left somewhat cryptic clues as to what that future would be. Penelope's desire to speak to a soothsayer signifies that she's become desperate for answers, whereas Telemachus had given up hope, until Athena came.

"Hellas and middle Argos..."   (Book I)

This refers to the region of Greece from Laconia in the south to Elis in the north that had the most concentrated development and most powerful Greek city-states, including the kingdoms of Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor, and several other of the most important Greek kings and war heroes. Odysseus, though not a king, would be well-known among them and listed in this category of great men.

"An upper servant..."   (Book I)

In ancient Greece, even servants were divided into social classes, with "upper" servants working in the dining hall and the house proper and "lower" servants working in the fields or the stables. The upper servants weren't treated better in any way, and all servants were likely to be slaves or indentured servants working off a debt.

"a beautiful golden ewer..."   (Book I)

Odysseus' house and possessions are reflections of his great social standing, with items like this ewer, or oval pitcher, displaying his considerable wealth and prestige. Even before Odysseus fought in the Trojan War, he was a respectable man with lands and money to his name. His absence, however, has depleted his wealth considerably, as the suitors eat up his flock.

"bearing-post..."   (Book I)

A bearing-post "bears" the weight of a building and is essential to its structure. It recalls the image of Atlas, who bears the weight of the heavenly spheres on his shoulder, and foreshadows a more significant bearing-post that Homer will reveal later in the poem.

"Cyclopes..."   (Book I)

A race of giants said to have been born with one eye in the center of their foreheads. Homer never explicitly states that the Cyclopes have one eye, but his contemporary Hesiod does, and modern interpretations of the text have used Hesiod's description, citing a lack of physical details in Homer's account. Odysseus will recount the tale of this blinding later in the poem.

"every kind of blandishment..."   (Book I)

In general, a blandishment is a piece of flattery used to manipulate someone. In this context, however, "blandishment" is a somewhat sanitized description of the truth, which is that Calypso is using her powers of song to enchant Odysseus and force him to stay with her. It's also suggested that she uses other means (potions, etc.) to keep him at her side.

"must needs..."   (Book I)

This phrase appears again and again in Homer's works. It means that one must necessarily do something or that it's in one's nature to do something. There's a tension in this about whether or not it's speaking to fate (as in, he must do this to finish the story) or if it's just a part of his character (as in, he would do that). In this example, it appears that Orestes "must needs" kill Aegisthus because he wanted to.

"Orestes..."   (Book I)

Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, Orestes wasn't home in Mycenae when Agamemnon was killed, returning only seven years later to avenge this death by killing both Aegisthus and his own mother Clytemnestra. In The Odyssey, he's used as an example for Odysseus' son, Telemachus, whose own mother is beset by suitors in Odysseus' absence.

"Agamemnon..."   (Book I)

King of Mycenae, son of Atreus, killed by Aegisthus upon his return from the ten-year Trojan War. His story parallels Odysseus' in that they're both returning from the war as heroes to find that their house is in shambles. The difference is: Agamemnon's wife cheats on him and plots against him while Odysseus' wife, Penelope, remains faithful.

"Aegisthus..."   (Book I)

Born of a rivalry between his father and the house of Atreus, Aegisthus grew up to kill Atreus so his father could reclaim the throne. Later, Agamemnon, Atreus's son, took the throne back, only to leave to fight in the Trojan War. While he was gone, Aegisthus had a torrid affair with Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra, and the two murdered him upon his return.

"Olympian Zeus..."   (Book I)

King of the Greek gods, Zeus rules from Mount Olympus and was known for his trademark thunderbolts and his affinity for women. Zeus was the son of Titans Cronus and Rhea and husband of Hera, with whom he gave birth to many gods, including Ares, the god of war. He sired more than 100 children in his time.

"hecatomb..."   (Book I)

In ancient Greece, a public sacrifice of 100 oxen made to please the gods. The Greek gods were notoriously capricious and could only be appeased by means of incredible sacrifice, usually involving slaughter or wine. Since then, the word "hecatomb" has come to mean a great loss of life, particularly for a cause.

"hero..."   (Book I)

In the original Greek, the word is man, not hero (an important distinction to make when you consider that Homer meant for this poem, unlike The Iliad, as a tale told primarily at a human level, with the gods playing a lesser role than they had in The Iliad).

"watches of the night..."   (Book II)

A "watch" in this context means a time period in which someone stands watch or acts as a lookout in case of danger. On the Aegean and Mediterranean sea, danger would've been either an enemy ship, an oncoming storm, or, in certain stories, a fantastical sea monster, often beset upon the sailors by Poseidon. To the ancient Greeks, the open seas were notoriously treacherous, something to be both feared and respected.

"a ship and a picked crew to boot..."   (Book II)

A hand-picked crew of men loyal to the suitors, not to Telemachus, and likely to get rid of him the first chance they get. This is what Athena is guarding against by "beating up" her own volunteers. It's obvious that the suitors are pleased to have Telemachus out of their hair, and that's reason enough for him to decline their invitation to join them.

"beat up volunteers at once..."   (Book II)

That is, to round up volunteers. Notice that Athena gives Telemachus an easy task (getting their supplies) while saving herself the difficult one of finding sailors who support Telemachus' cause. Likely, she'll use her powers as a goddess to recruit men for the voyage and will help Telemachus along the way by making sure that these men, and Telemachus himself, stay in line.

"to fight with many about his victuals..."   (Book II)

That is, to fight over his food. Notice the curious use of the possessive "his." As a suitor, Leiocritus wouldn't be entitled to anything but Telemachus' hospitality, but, like the others, seems to already think of the estate as "his," making all of the other suitors his enemies. Though Leiocritus threatens anyone who stands in the suitors' way, it remains to be seen if, once the obstacles to their success destroyed, the suitors will be able to divide the spoils amicably.

"Mentor..."   (Book II)

This marks the first and only time that Mentor speaks in the poem as himself. In every other case, "Mentor" is actually Athena in disguise, appearing to guide Telemachus in his journey in much the same way she appeared earlier. It's her guidance in The Odyssey that led to the word "mentor" being adopted in the English language to mean a teacher or a wise person who provides guidance.

"Erinyes..."   (Book II)

Also known as Furies, the Erinyes are a group of vulture-like women who would appear any time they were called upon to punish the mortals who'd committed crimes against their families, especially matricide. Once the Erinyes were called upon, they would torment their victim, a process that could take hours or years. This often sparked an escalating cycle of revenge which inevitably ended in tragedy.

"tambour frame..."   (Book II)

This tambour frame, a circular frame for use in sewing, becomes a symbol both of femininity and fate, as Penelope uses her sewing to hold the suitors at bay. In the course of this poem, the frame will take on increasingly layered meanings and will, like Odysseus' bow, represent the split between "women's work" and men's work.

"Ilius..."   (Book II)

Ilium, another name for Troy, gave The Iliad its name and was well-known for its twelve immortal horses, the Hippoi Troiades, owned by one of the kings of Troy. Homer was likely also alluding to the Trojan Horse, the famed downfall of the city and brain-child of Odysseus, an important figure in the Trojan War.

"Athena endowed him..."   (Book II)

In ancient Greece, as in most of history, physical attractiveness was prized and was typically considered a sign of one's goodness, godliness, and actual worth. "Kallos," the Greek word for beauty, has a more abrasive, powerful connotation, carrying with it the license to be cruel, vain, and powerful, and to be admired for it. Kallos is a counterpoint to "kleos," or glory, to which men aspire.

"sent the criers..."   (Book II)

"Criers" were men who ran through the streets of a city, giving its citizens news and announcing meetings. Telemachus wants to make a show of this gathering and intends to finally put the suitors in their place. Otherwise, there would be no reason to call them together at the assembly. All of this is meant to bolster Telemachus' ego.

"Themis..."   (Book II)

A Titaness, daughter of Uranus and ex-wife of Zeus, Themis is a personification of abstract concepts like justice, order, manners, and traditions. In ancient Greek society, customs and folkways like xenia fell directly under the purview of Themis, who presided in spirit over meetings of government and matters of judicial order. Telemachus calls on her to remind the suitors of their inappropriate behavior, to no avail.

"the house of Hades..."   (Book III)

In Greek and, later, Roman mythology, Hades is the abode of the dead who have led either good or bad lives, and is not comparable to Hell in the Judeo-Christian tradition as simply a place of punishment for earthly sins.

"Aegis-bearing Zeus..."   (Book III)

This epithet is often used to describe Zeus. The *aegis, *which is often described as a shield, seems to have been both a defensive and an offensive weapon. At several points in the Iliad, Zeus' thunderbolts, which are very destructive weapons, are described as coming from the aegis.

"Philoctetes..."   (Book III)

Philoctetes was a key Greek warrior during the Trojan War because he carried a powerful bow that Hercules had given him, and Philoctetes was the best archer in the Greek army.

"The son of Tydeus..."   (Book III)

This is Diomedes, one of the most important and strongest of the Greek kings who fought during the Trojan War.

"Tenedos..."   (Book III)

Tenedos is just off the shore near Troy, so the Greeks had barely begun their journey home when the gods intervened to ruin their return.

"hecatomb..."   (Book III)

Originally, a sacrifice of 100 oxen, but later, any sacrifice of a large number of animals.

"Thrasymedes..."   (Book III)

Thrasymedes accompanied Nestor to the Trojan War and returned with him to Pylos.

"leave me a corpse behind him..."   (Book IV)

Penelope essentially says that if she'd known about Telemachus' trip she would've told him, "Over my dead body." Though Penelope and Telemachus' relationship has been portrayed as strained, the familial ties in ancient Greece were particularly strong and demanded utter devotion on the part of mothers. Penelope's threat here is all too real.

"the cloister..."   (Book IV)

An enclosed space or enclosure, particularly of a religious variety. In this case, it refers to an area of the castle that was closed off and, thus, the perfect place for Aegisthus to set his trap for Agamemnon. He hid his soldiers on one side while waiting for his moment to strike on the other.

"ambrosia..."   (Book IV)

The food of the gods, distinct from the nectar, or drink, of the gods. In ancient Greek mythology, ambrosia was said to confer longevity and, in some cases, immortality on whomsoever ate it, which led to it being eaten by mortals only on very rare occasions. Idothea is again going above and beyond to help Menelaus.

"Halosydne's chickens..."   (Book IV)

Halosydne, an epithet of Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea and wife of Poseidon. The Greek word halosydne literally means sea-fed, so it's a very appropriate adjective for describing the seals described here as "chickens," or animals bred to feed gods and humans.

"dying by inches..."   (Book IV)

That is, slowly, or an inch at time. This may refer to the process of "wasting," which occurs when the body of a starving person begins to break down its stored fat and tissues for energy, this shedding a great deal of weight in a short amount of time.

"for they are of the race of Paeeon..."   (Book IV)

Paean, the Greek physician of the gods, was often considered an epithet of Apollo, the god of plague and healing. In Greek, "paieon" literally means healing, and healers were often generically referred to as Paeeon.

"perfidy..."   (Book IV)

Perfidy, meaning, deceitfulness, treachery, or an act thereof. Typically, an act of perfidy requires there to have been an act of trust that was then broken or betrayed. That trust would've here been placed on Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's "wicked wife," who was unfaithful to him and plotted his demise.

"under the yoke..."   (Book IV)

A yoke, or type of harness, was used to attach horses to chariots, which were then pulled in tandem by teams typically consisting of two, four, or eight horses. Given the singularity of the word yoke, we can assume that Telemachus and Pisistratus are riding on a single chariot led by two or four horses.

"Megapenthes, was born to him of a bondwoman..."   (Book IV)

In Greek and Roman culture, men of the upper classes routinely had affairs with women of the lower or slave classes in order to produce male heirs. Since Helen was seduced by Paris and lived with him in Troy, Menelaus named his son "Megapenthes," meaning "great sorrow," in recognition of his grief over the loss of Helen.

"a foolish fellow..."   (Book IV)

A better translation from the Greek is naive or *innocent *rather than *foolish, *which carries a negative connotation not meant in the original. Telemachus, though young, was wise enough to follow Athena's advice and has proven himself to be his father's son.

"Dolius..."   (Book IV)

Dolius is Penelope's faithful servant and might also be the father of Melanthios and Melantho, who sided with Penelope's suitors and were therefore considered to be treacherous by Odysseus and Telemachus. We'll see what becomes of him and his potential children later on in the poem.

"discs..."   (Book IV)

That is, the discus, a very effective throwing weapon commonly used in Greek warfare. Discus throwing was also a major event in the ancient pentathlon, which consisted of a foot race, a javelin throw, discus throw, long jump, and wrestling.

"Hephaestus' own hand..."   (Book IV)

Hephaestus (or Vulcan), the god of metal-working (the forge). He made armor for several gods and demi-gods, including Achilles, and was renowned for his skill and craftsmanship. This gift indicates that Menelaus truly holds Telemachus in high regard as the son of Odysseus.

"I raised a barrow..."   (Book IV)

A barrow, meaning a mountain or a hill, refers here to the mound of earth or stones lain over a grave. In this case, Agamemnon wouldn't have been afforded a proper burial after his murder, and this barrow is built simply to commemorate his life. A barrow is called a cenotaph when the body is not present.

"but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind..."   (Book IV)

Greeks would've recognized this description of a temperate climate, typical of locations on the Mediterranean Sea. Traditionally, the west wind was considered wholesome and good, while the east wind was considered unhealthy and a sign of trouble.

"the Elysian plain..."   (Book IV)

This is the Greek equivalent to paradise, also known as the Elysian fields.

"Proteus..."   (Book IV)

The modern English adjective *protean, *which means the ability to change into many forms or shapes, derives from the mythological Proteus, who was divinely endowed with the ability to change into many guises, including, presumably, that of other gods and mortals.

"I am suppliant at your knees..."   (Book IV)

Telemachus speaks both metaphorically and literally here, describing both the formal posture of a suppliant (as someone who grasps the knees of the person from whom they're seeking favor) and likening himself to a suppliant by virtue of his desperate plea. Telemachus is not likely on his knees in this scene.

"distaff, and a silver work box..."   (Book IV)

In weaving, the distaff is a tool, such as a stick or rod, that holds the unspun wool. Helen, and all women of the upper class, were expected to weave garments or blankets for their immediate family and became, like Penelope, well-renowned weavers in their own right. The silver work box would've held all the tools Helen needed to complete her weavings.

"ten talents of gold..."   (Book IV)

A Greek "talent" is a unit of measurement equal to the weight of 58 pounds. Thus, ten talents is the equivalent of 580 pounds of gold (a substantial amount even today). The sheer abundance of Polybus' gifts should indicate the important of xenia in Greek culture.

"full of people to offer me sacrifices or choice hecatombs..."   (Book V)

Hecatombs are an extensive sacrifice, originally of a hundred oxen. Homer uses this line to emphasize the hierarchy between humans and gods; humans live to satisfy the gods while gods live to enjoy the servitude of humans.

"slayer of Argus,..."   (Book V)

Argus was appointed by Hera to guard Io, who was turned into a heifer and chained to a sacred olive tree. Zeus sent Hermes to kill Argus because he had fallen in love with lo and wanted to steal her back from Hera.

"Amphitrite..."   (Book V)

Amphitrite is thought to be Poseidon's wife and therefore the goddess of the sea. Odysseus, recognizing that Poseidon is against him, assumes that Amphitrite is also an enemy.

"Pleiads, on late-setting Bootes, and on the Bear..."   (Book V)

The Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, is a star-cluster near the constellation Orion. Bootes, meaning herdsman, is a constellation with one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus. Ursa Major, the Great Bear, watches over Orion, the hunter. In this context, we see that Odysseus is adhering to the suggestion of Calypso and navigating the sea by following the stars.

"Pieria..."   (Book V)

Pieria is a mountain to the north of Mt. Olympus and is thought to be the home of the Muses.

"the people here are very ill-natured..."   (Book VI)

In addition to the somewhat foreboding presence of the temple of Poseidon, this is another ominous statement about the Phaeacians. While it could be that Nausicaa means that they might be critical, the term ill natured implies that they might be mean or hostile, especially considering that it's been made clear that they don't like strangers and her worrying about her reputation.

"spinning her purple wool..."   (Book VI)

In the ancient world, the color purple is reserved for the garments of royalty. In many cultures, it was a capital offense for people other than royalty to wear purple.

"the mountains of Taygetus or Erymanthus..."   (Book VI)

These are located on the main area of what is now Greece, the Peloponnese.

"cruse..."   (Book VI)

A cruse is small container, such as a carafe, jar, or pot, that can have a stopper and is typically used for holding a water or oil.

"men who come from some other place..."   (Book VII)

In general, xenophobia, or the fear and hatred of outsiders, was extremely uncommon in ancient Greece, where people practiced the tradition of xenia, which derives from the same prefix, xeno-, meaning stranger or guest.

"he will win an imperishable name..."   (Book VII)

When Odysseus prays to Zeus in front of Alcinous, he uses the word kleos when he refers to the "imperishable name" Alcinous will win for assisting him. Kleos is the highest kind of glory one can win, usually reserved for helping someone of very high rank. This is the closest Odysseus has come so far in telling his hosts how high he ranks in Greek society.

"it will turn oil..."   (Book VII)

To turn or shed oil means in essence to be waterproof (a testament to the skill and artistry of the Phaeacian women, who were considered great weavers at that time). These waterproof linens would've been especially useful for sailors and seafarers as they made their journeys across the sea.

"with the palisade on top of them..."   (Book VII)

These high was walls, topped by palisades, are defensive structures, and may be a sign that the Phaeaicians fear something from outside the city walls. We'll come to understand the root and significance of this soon.

"hosts and guest alike..."   (Book VIII)

This line has two meanings. First, Alcinous wants Odysseus not to be sad and assumes that this can be achieved by changing the subject. Second, he wants to himself enjoy the festivities, and he can't do that with someone weeping so "piteously" beside him.

"a copper..."   (Book VIII)

In this case, not a piece of the metal copper or a coin but a large copper vessel, such as a pot or tub, used to fill water, either for baths or laundry. Alcinous is instructing his wife to prepare a proper bath for Odysseus, who, having spent so many days at sea, likely smells of brine and fish.

"Ares..."   (Book VIII)

Ares, god of war, one of the Twelve Olympians and son of Zeus and Hera. Ares was known to be a particularly hot-headed and violent god associated with battle and slaughter. He also happened to be a great lover, and there are almost as many tales of his love affairs and offspring as there are of his participation in wars.

"cut the ground from under his own feet..."   (Book VIII)

Another way to say this is that he bites the hands that feeds him. As a stranger in the court, and not knowing all the customs of the land, he of course wants to make sure that he doesn't alienate his host or risk making enemies among the nobles. Thus this statement becomes one of respect and is intended to reflect well upon his character.

"of weak presence..."   (Book VIII)

That is, of small stature. Odysseus here makes a generalization about men who are "of weak presence" (not very strong or skilled in battle), who nevertheless become leaders because of their quick mind. Keep in mind that Euryalus has just accused Odysseus of this exact thing and that Odysseus is turning it back on him.

"reviled..."   (Book VIII)

Reviled, meaning "to abuse" or "to insult." In this passage, Euryalus questions Odysseus' character, accusing him of having no loyalties and being concerned only with his self-interest, thus "reviling" (denigrating, insulting) him.

"minstrelsy..."   (Book VIII)

Minstrelsy, meaning entertainment or singing. In ancient Greece, minstrels were often servants, like bards, called upon to sing ballads and play live music. From the Middle Ages onwards, "minstrel" was a generic description for a singer, until it became a racially charged word in the early 20th Century.

"lays..."   (Book VIII)

Lay, in its noun form, refers to a short lyric or narrative poem intended to be sung, like The Odyssey itself. Lays were generally performed from memory with musical accompaniment from a lyre or a pan-flute.

"the muse inspired Demodocus..."   (Book VIII)

The muse referenced here would be Calliope, the muse of epic poetry. Note that the bard never speaks without inspiration (literally translated as "breath") from the muse, suggesting that all poetry comes from this inspiration rather than from the bard's own imagination.

"Pytho..."   (Book VIII)

Another name for Delphi, the home of the Oracle of Delphi, whose oracles were supposed to come from Apollo himself. Pytho was also home to the mythical Python, the earth-dragon of Delphi, depicted in art and literature as a serpent and enemy of Apollo.

"Sintians..."   (Book VIII)

A people from the far northeastern part of Europe, bordering the northern side of the Sea of Marmara, which connects the Black Sea to the Aegean. The Sintians didn't speak Greek, and thus their language was considered "barbarous" or unliterary.

"the sum I gave him for his baggage..."   (Book VIII)

Hephaestus alludes to the "bride-price" he paid to Zeus for Aphrodite before they were married. A bride-price was like a dowry in reverse to recompense the father for the loss of a contributing member of his household.

"bound the oars to the thole-pins..."   (Book VIII)

The thole-pins are u-shaped wooden fixtures through which the oars are placed, and the leather thong goes across the top of the u opening to keep the oar in place. The bottom of the the thole-pin has a peg that goes into the rail of the ship to keep the whole oar in place. Most of the time, Greek ships used the sail to get them to their destination.

"inhuman..."   (Book IX)

Notice how Homer describes Polyphemus in relation to humanity instead of in terms of his extraordinary physicality. The poem celebrates humanity by showing the great feats that mortals, such as Odysseus, can accomplish. The Cyclops, neither a god nor human, is thus considered the outcast.

"groaning and tearing their hair..."   (Book X)

Odysseus's men are, understandably, not happy with this turn of events. Groaning, tearing one's hair, and even tearing one's clothes were common customs of mourning and distress during ancient times.

"Erebus..."   (Book X)

Often depicted as a primordial god, Erebus is not only the personification of darkness, but also represents a region of darkness in the underworld on the path to Hades in Greek mythology. This region is where the dead go immediately after dying and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.

"the ghosts..."   (Book X)

The spirits of the dead in Hades are generally unhappy, not at rest, and are not particularly helpful to visitors, especially those who are still alive unless. However, they become more helpful if, as Odysseus is told to do, a visitor offers gifts to insure their cooperation. Spirits in the underworld who lead "happy" eternal lives spend their time in Elysium (or the Elysian Fields), not in the general area known as Hades.

"cubit..."   (Book X)

This term refers to any of various ancient units of length based on the length of one's forearm, measured from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. This distance is typically equal to about 18 inches or 46 centimeters.

"Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus (which is a branch of the river Styx) flow into Acheron..."   (Book X)

Hades includes four rivers: Pyriphlegethon, which means "covered with fire"; Cocytus, which means "lamentation" (that is, crying out for sorrow); Styx, which means "full of hate"; and Acheron, which means "over-flowing with grief."

"poplars and willows that shed their fruit untimely..."   (Book X)

Since poplars and willows are commonly found around graves, this is a reference to death as an untimely occurrence as well as a landmark for Odysseus on his journey.

"the waters of Oceanus..."   (Book X)

In the Greek conception of the world, the world is a disc covered by land and water and is ringed by a wide river called Oceanus. If you sail the width of Oceanus, you fall off the edge of the world.

"Persephone..."   (Book X)

Since she is both the daughter of Demeter and the wife of Hades, Persephone is also associated with the arrival of spring and agricultural growth in addition to being the wife of the lord of the underworld.

"Moly..."   (Book X)

This is a rare case in which the gods' name for something is not given another name for humans to use. Homer most likely means to indicate that this plant is available only to the gods, which explains why "mortal man cannot uproot it."

"Laestrygonians..."   (Book X)

The land of the Laestrygonians seems to be far to the north of the island of Ithaca because we later learn that the days there are short, which implies that Odysseus' ships have been blown toward the north.

"Aeolus son of Hippotas..."   (Book X)

Aeolus, king of the winds, keeps the most damaging winds, known as the Anemoi Thuellai, locked up in his hollow island, Aeolia. When the gods ask him, he releases the winds to either destroy ships and men or send them off their course.  Aeolus was often called Hippotades, "the reiner of horses," because the Greeks often personified winds as wild horses, and Aeolus controls them as if with reins.

"that awful monster Gorgon..."   (Book XI)

A Gorgon was a female monster from ancient Greek mythology, typically depicted as one of three sisters with hair made of snakes. It's unclear to which Gorgon Odysseus is referring here, but most likely he means Medusa, the most famous Gorgon, who could turn men to stone with a single glance.

"Thetis..."   (Book XI)

Thetis, wife of Peleus and mother to Achilles. Thetis was a Nereid, or daughter of the ancient sea god Nereus, and according to some scholars was one of the first deities worshipped in ancient Greece. As mother, she would've retained rights over all of Achilles' possessions after he was killed.

"a matter of great chance..."   (Book XI)

The chaotic nature of war is reflected in the Greek view of Ares, whose short temper and frequent fits of rage make his dealings with both fate and warriors inconsistent. Neoptolemus wouldn't necessarily have had the blessing of Ares, but he would've been much indebted to the god in any case.

"Hellas and Phthia..."   (Book XI)

Hellas meaning Greece and Phthia meaning the southern region of the kingdom of Thessaly. The word Hellenistic derives from the word Hellas and refers to anything from ancient Greece or pertaining to their customs and philosophies.

"charlatan..."   (Book XI)

A merchant or fraudster who makes disingenuous claims about his skills, abilities, and wares with the intent of misleading or swindling his customers and the general public. As a noble with a purple mantle, Alcinous would have no reason to believe Odysseus was a charlatan, except for his reticence to reveal his identity earlier.

"redound..."   (Book XI)

Redound, meaning to reverberate or echo, or more rarely result or have consequence. Likely, this is an alternate spelling of the more common word "resound," which also means to echo or reverberate. The translator may also be trying to make a verbal pun to the word "renown," meaning great fame and esteem.

"niggardly..."   (Book XI)

Niggardly, or being like a niggard, someone who's mean, parsimonious, and stingy. Arete is urging the men to give Odysseus lavish presents as a reward for his heroism (a plea that reinforces Alcinous' previous order for them to each give him cloaks, shirts, and gold).

"Dionysus..."   (Book XI)

Dionysus, the god of wine, madness, fertility, and ecstasy. His lavish and extravagant parties gave rise to the term Dionysian, a concept of irrationality and chaos that stands in contrast to the Apollonian, a philosophical concept derived from Apollo, the god of rationality and reason. Thus it's possible that what Dionysus said about Procris wasn't true, because he may just have been trying to create chaos.

"Thebes with its seven gates..."   (Book XI)

Thebes, one of the most important of the Greek city-states, was known both for its seven gates, which made the city near impenetrable, and for its propensity to cause trouble, including the war known as the Seven Against Thebes, which was immortalized in the play of the same name by Aeschylus.

"Erebus..."   (Book XI)

Erebus, a region of the underworld, the first stop for the dead before they move on to Hades. The word "erebus" literally means darkness, and the place Erebus has been depicted as a shadowy realm, a sort of in-between place where the light of day and the darkness of death merge.

"the poor feckless ghosts..."   (Book XI)

In modern parlance, feckless means to be shiftless or irresponsible, but its original definition was to be timid, weak, or helpless. Some of these spirits, the psykhai (or people who haven't been properly cremated) are able to harm the living, but helpless to do anything about their situation.

"a cubit..."   (Book XI)

A unit of measurement. In modern times, a cubit generally refers to the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger, but in ancient Greece it was understood to be eighteen to twenty-two inches long.

"the river Oceanus..."   (Book XI)

Also known as the world-ocean, Oceanus was a giant river said to encircle the entire world. This river was personified by a deity of the same name, Oceanus, often depicted as a man with a great beard and the lower body of a serpent.

"but it was his phantom only..."   (Book XI)

Nowhere else in Homeric literature is a soul in Hades described as being split between a "phantom" (presumably, a spirit) and a living being. Hercules, because he was a demigod (son of Zeus) and lived a brave life, was rewarded after death by eternal life with the gods on Olympus. The Greeks' conception of death doesn't generally allow for this, but appears to have made an exception for Hercules.

"the hell-hound..."   (Book XI)

One of Hercules's labors was to bring the three-headed hell-hound Cerberus from Hades to the upper world. This was a particularly dangerous labor because most people who traveled to Hades never returned. That he risked this journey and returned successfully shows what a great hero Hercules really was.

"Tantalus..."   (Book XI)

Tantalus, a son of Zeus, divulged the secrets Zeus disclosed to him to mankind, thus resulting in the punishment of unquenchable thirst and constant torment. Our modern word tantalize, which means to tempt someone with an unobtainable goal, derives from the Tantalus myth.

"by reason of a woman's bribes..."   (Book XI)

This refers to Astyoche, Queen of the Mysians, who was bribed by King Priam to let her son, Eurypylos, fight in the Trojan War. Other Mysians, also called Ceteians, joined Eurypylos and were killed in the fighting, their deaths becoming less heroic as a result of their being the product of a bribe.

"winnowing shovel..."   (Book XI)

A winnowing shovel (basically, a wooden paddle with a shovel-like end) is used to throw wheat up into a very light wind; the air then separates the heavier wheat from the lighter chaff. Today, when we use the word winnow, we are describing separating the good from the bad or the useful from the useless.

"dead aft..."   (Book XI)

Wind that blows directly from the rear of the ship, propelling it as fast as it can possible go into the unknown. Homer characterizes this as a great act of cruelty on Circe's part and one that no doubt arises from Odysseus' rejection of her as a lover.

"Sirens..."   (Book XII)

In Greek mythology, Sirens are dangerous and beautiful creatures that use their enchanted voices to lure sailors towards them. If a ship didn't take precaution, such as Circe has suggested, they would follow the Sirens' song and crash their ships on the rocks around the Sirens' island.

"I will go down to Hades and shine there among the dead..."   (Book XII)

Lampetie's threat is very serious. Should she decide to shine in the underworld, it would reverse the natural order of things: the underworld would be lit up, the upper world in darkness.

"Lampetie..."   (Book XII)

This is a daughter of Helios and personification of light whose job is to take care of and watch over the sacred herd.

"In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted their places..."   (Book XII)

Greeks divide the day and night into three parts (as we do today), so as this is the third part and the stars have "shifted," which means they have set, the time is just before dawn (and notably when hunger returns).

"coxswain..."   (Book XII)

Often one of the more skilled sailors on a ship, the coxswain controls the ship's rudder, which is the most important piece of the steering mechanism.

"Eurylochus and Perimedes..."   (Book XII)

Two of Odysseus' men who have been with him the longest. He trusted them enough to perform the appropriate sacrifices on his behalf when he descended into Hades to seek the counsel of Teiresias.

"Achaean..."   (Book XII)

The Greeks in the Iliad are often referred to generically as Achaeans because the province of Achaea in what is now mainland Greece supplied such a large number of Greek warriors for the Trojan War.

"the Thrinacian island..."   (Book XII)

This is usually identified as the island that is now Sicily, which places Odysseus far to the west of Ithaca. The distance helps to demonstrate just how far he still has to go to reach home.

"Arethusa..."   (Book XIII)

In Greek mythology, Arethusa is a nymph who fled her home in Arcadia when Alpheus, the river god, fell in love with her. Arethusa prayed to Artemis, her friend, who helped Arethusa flee Alpheus by transforming her into a freshwater spring on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse.

"diadem..."   (Book XIII)

A diadem is a headband or crown decorated in jewels worn as a symbol of sovereignty and power. In this instance, Odysseus is using the word figuratively to represent his victory in Troy that extinguished its power.

"Naiads..."   (Book XIII)

Naiads are water nymphs who are found beside wells, springs, fountains, streams, and other freshwater sources. Homer’s inclusion of these freshwater gods could be a metaphor for the end of Odysseus's sea journey and a transition to his continued journey on land.

"exploited..."   (Book XIII)

This should be read as "checked on.” Athena is accusing Odysseus of too much carefulness or craftiness in not seeming to care about his wife's situation.

"Sidonia..."   (Book XIII)

Sidonia (also, Cydonia) is a town at the northwestern edge of Crete, which is far to the south of Ithaca, but it is also the name of the main city of the Phoenicians. In either case, describing these sailors as having gone far to the south is a way to insure that no one will try to verify Odysseus' story.

"Idomeneus..."   (Book XIII)

Idomeneus is a Greek warrior-king who led a large contingent of troops from Crete against the Trojans. He is known for his fierce temper, so he makes a good choice of someone Odysseus is trying to avoid.

"When the bright star that heralds the approach of dawn began to show..."   (Book XIII)

This reference to a morning star usually refers to Venus, which appears low in the east just before dawn. Notice the slight change from the rosy-fingered dawn opening that has been typical throughout.

"We will recoup ourselves by the levy of a general rate..."   (Book XIII)

Alcinous tells his subjects that their gifts of a tripod and cauldron will be "tax deductible" because the gift is on behalf of the people. This represents the importance of gift giving in Greek culture.

"Phoenician..."   (Book XIV)

The Phoenicians were the most successful traders in the ancient world and commanded much of the waters in Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps because of their skill as traders, they had a reputation for being self-interested, and were frequently depicted as swindlers such as this man.

"Many made at me with their ashen spears..."   (Book XIV)

It's not entirely clear whether Odysseus is referring to the Egyptians or to his own men, who are furious at him for surrendering to the enemy. Greeks aren't traditionally depicted as carrying "ashen spears," so these may be the Egyptians disobeying their king's wishes.

"who lets his poverty tempt him into lying..."   (Book XIV)

Notice that Odysseus isn't technically speaking about himself here. Though he may seem poor because of his appearance, he has all of the gold given to him by Alcinous and his men, and he's assured of regaining his own lands one he dispatches of the suitors.

"Helen's whole race..."   (Book XIV)

The ancient Greeks believed that ethics were genetically transmitted and that people would inherit the traits of their ancestors. Thus, the "race" of Helen would be one of unfaithful women, characterized, as Helen is, by their weakness and their immorality.

"when they have young lords for their masters..."   (Book XIV)

The use of the plural "lords" here is interesting. Eumaeus could be making a generalized statement about servants whose masters are young men filling their fathers' shoes, or he could be referring to the suitors in particular, who are all themselves young lords in Ithaca and behave as though they own Odysseus' lands.

"three hundred and sixty boar pigs..."   (Book XIV)

Given that the suitors have been eating up Odysseus' livestock for years and slaughtering at least one boar a day, we can work backwards to calculate that Odysseus likely had one or two thousand boars before the suitors showed up.

"King Acastus..."   (Book XIV)

In Greek mythology, Acastus was one of the Argonauts before he became king. With Jason, he and the other Argonauts went on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name derives from their ship, Argo, itself named after the shipbuilder, Argus.

"Dodona..."   (Book XIV)

A shrine named after the Naiad (a sea or river-nymph) of the same name. Another tradition names the shrine after Dodon, a son of Zeus and Europa. The oracle there spoke on behalf of Zeus and would've been able to counsel Odysseus on the best course of action, which he has already done, in previous books, by speaking to the seer Tiresias.

"Thesprotian coast..."   (Book XIV)

This is an area near Epirus on the northern part of the mainland, north of Ithaca. It would've been well known to both Odysseus and Eumaeus, though the latter isn't likely to have traveled there, due to his status as a servant on Odysseus' estate.

"upon the main land..."   (Book XIV)

Eumaeus probably refers to the area of Elis, which is near Ithaca on the mainland and would be the natural place for Odysseus to have pastured his flocks. These lands are considerably larger than those available to the nobles in Ithaca and attest to the great size of Odysseus' flock.

"the most thrifty servant he had..."   (Book XIV)

In the original Greek, Eumaeus is described here as noble in part because he's one of few servants who remains loyal to Odysseus' memory and in part because he happens to come from a noble family, despite the fact that he's a swineherd. "Thrifty" here uses an obscure definition meaning respectable or decent.

"Sidon..."   (Book XV)

Sidon, an ancient city in Phoenicia, now a major city in modern-day Lebanon. Homer was known to praise the skill of the Sidonian craftsmen, including especially their glass, purple dyes, and women's embroidery. Sidon was frequently the victim of conquering warlords and saw many different rulers in its time.

"Polypheides..."   (Book XV)

Polypheides, father of Theoklymenus, the seer whom Telemachus meets in this scene. Polypheides was granted the gift of sight by Apollo, who made him the greatest seer in the world after the death of Amphiarus, a great warrior who was swallowed by the earth when Zeus threw a thunderbolt in front of his chariot.

"Aurora..."   (Book XV)

Aurora, the goddess of the dawn. Aurora was the Roman epithet for the goddess, who was traditionally known in Greece as Eos, a Titaness, who rose each morning from her home on the far shore of Oceanus. Eos had a brother, Helios, god of the son, and a sister, Selene, goddess of the moon.

"the most proper answer..."   (Book XV)

That is, the most measured answer, the one least likely to be wrong and falsely raise their hopes. Menelaus can't be certain of what this omen means, and Helen's reading, though correct, nevertheless isn't the wisest thing to say, because she can't be sure that it will come true.

"and took out one that was largest..."   (Book XV)

Helen intends for Telemachus to give this dress to his bride on their wedding day. It seems strange that Helen gives him the largest one, but this might be explained in many ways: Helen might, for instance, typically sew for children and maids, making this the "largest" of a small batch.

"mooring stones..."   (Book XV)

Mooring, from the verb to moor, meaning to secure or fasten a ship in a particular place. Mooring stones were typically stones that had holes bored through them for ropes, which were tied to the rail or the mast of the ship to secure it in place.

"gold with amber beads..."   (Book XV)

Amber, which most often came from the Baltic area, has always been considered a precious material for jewelry and was often paired with gold in ancient Greek and Mediterranean cultures. It would've been highly prized as a gift and would reflect well on this messenger.

"my blood runs in your veins..."   (Book XVI)

While sometimes this phrase comes before a talk about battle, in this case Odysseus tells Telemachus to be mentally strong so as not to give away the plan. Mental toughness, as we have seen, is one of Odysseus' greatest strengths, and he expects his son to exhibit that same strength.

"but ten many times over..."   (Book XVI)

Homeric numbers are generally exaggerations for dramatic effect. In this case, Telemachus's inexperience in combat and consequent fear lead him to intentionally overestimate the enemy.

"she gave him back his color..."   (Book XVI)

That is, she restored his hair to its natural color, which is described here and in the Iliad as a color from blond to light brown. At this point in his life, Odysseus is likely in his late 40s, so making a man of this age look imposing would produce quite a startling effect on Telemachus.

"he is your suppliant..."   (Book XVI)

This is another word for supplicant, and in this passage, Eumaeus reminds Telemachus of the proper etiquette that the situation would require if Telemachus were to take Odysseus as a servant: he must treat Odysseus hospitably.

"to go the round of the suitors..."   (Book XVII)

Telemachus in essence orders Odysseus to run the gauntlet, begging from suitors who are more likely to abuse him than to give him any of their food and wine. Telemachus has to do this to keep Odysseus' identity a secret, but may also be wondering how far his father is willing to go to carry out his plan.

"this very day..."   (Book XVII)

It's unclear whether or not Melanthius knows of the suitors' plan to kill Telemachus. If so, he might be saying that Telemachus is going to die, but he isn't sure when. If not, then he must believe that this will happen eventually, if not at the hands of the suitors but because the gods seem to be against Odysseus and his family.

"wantonness..."   (Book XVII)

Wanton meaning unruly, naught, or disobedient; also, reckless, willful, and wild. When applied to women, "wanton" generally refers to lust and sexual promiscuity, which just goes to show how gendered the English language has become.

"all their old insolence..."   (Book XVII)

That Homer describes their insolence as "old" suggests that there was a period of time when they weren't feeling as secure about their prospects but that (they think) this time has passed. For the suitors, the primary form of entertainment is competition, both in games and in their fight for Odysseus' estate.

"come here with the victims..."   (Book XVII)

This may be a double entendre, or a phrase with double meanings: Telemachus may have in mind both the animals being sacrificed and the suitors, of whom he intends to make another kind of "sacrifice" as he and Odysseus take revenge upon them for their insolence.

"the most heaven-taught minstrel..."   (Book XVII)

In ancient Greek culture, bards (poets) and minstrels were thought to be inspired by the Graces and the Muses and were honored for their talents. Comparing Odysseus to a bard elevates him to this status and gives backhanded praise to Homer for being able to write a story about people who tell such good stories.

"Heaven forbid..."   (Book XVII)

Keep in mind that Zeus himself is a patron saint of suppliants and beggars. To mistreat such a person is to invite Zeus' anger, but, as Telemachus points out in the rest of his speech, the suitors don't seem to care about mistreating people, not even their own host, Penelope.

"with rule and line..."   (Book XVII)

This construction detail is meant to underscore the quality of Odysseus' house and the care with which it was constructed. Later, we will learn that Odysseus himself is a skilled carpenter, among his many other skills, and that he took some part in the building of the house and its bearing-posts.

"Ithacus, Neritus, and Polyctor..."   (Book XVII)

Ithacus appears to have been the founding father of Ithaca, the oldest of the three brothers mentioned here. Neritus, a brother of Ithacus, gave his name to Mount Neriton, the tallest mountain on Ithaca. Polyctor, the third brother, was said to have created the Polyctorium on Ithaca.

"against a bearing-post..."   (Book XVII)

We can infer from this description that weapons were normally kept outside of the home. With that in mind, the fact that the suitors carry their weapons in the courtyard of Odysseus' home becomes yet another example of their bad behavior.

"made his limbs even stronger still..."   (Book XVIII)

Although Athena helps Odysseus with her godly powers, she only extends help to a certain point. Odysseus must still fight his own battles, and he is still a strong and heroic character without her assistance, as indicated by the word “still”.

"Irus..."   (Book XVIII)

This is another example of Homer’s wordplay. “Irus” is a play on “Iris”, a messenger goddess. Some of the townspeople nicknamed him this ironically because he is the complete opposite of any godly being: a beggar and a drunkard. He delivers messages out of dire need, not out of divine duty.

"Odysseus will return in this self same year; with the end of this moon and the beginning of the next he will be here..."   (Book XIX)

While this oath doesn't appear to have impressed Penelope very much, Odysseus is still irrevocably committing himself to his plan for revenge by calling upon Zeus to witness it. As to the timing Odysseus mentions, most scholars believe that Odysseus plans his return and revenge on Apollo's (god of the bow) feast day, which is the end of the month.

"Dodona that he might learn Zeus' mind from the high oak tree..."   (Book XIX)

An oracle of Zeus was at Dodona. The origin of Dodona is questionable because the oracle may have gotten its name from a son of Zeus and Europa or the name may have derived from a nymph named Dodona.

"Eurybates..."   (Book XIX)

Eurybates was Odysseus' herald and therefore held a high position among Odysseus' entourage. The herald, though a servant. often spoke for his master as his representative. He was a trusted adviser to Odysseus but was lost at sea during the voyage home.

"Eteocretans, Dorians of three-fold race, and noble Pelasgi..."   (Book XIX)

The Eteocretans most likely refers to the original settlers on the island of Crete, and the Dorians of three-fold race probably refers to three tribes of Dorian Greeks. The noble Pelasgi are Greeks from Asia Minor, probably near modern Turkey, and they are somehow associated with Argos. The Pelasgi were thought to be the earliest inhabitants of Greece, which would explain why Odysseus calls them the noble Pelasgi.

"over all the land..."   (Book XX)

These sudden changes are not meant to be taken literally but rather metaphorically. It's unclear whether Theoclymenus sees these things because he's a seer and can foretell the future or because the suitors are behaving so strangely that it's as if the world is shrouded in darkness.

"Sardinian fashion..."   (Book XX)

A reference to the island of Sardinia, near to Italy, located in the Mediterranean Sea. Sardinia was originally settled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians prior to the sixth century B.C. The Romans conquered the island in 238 B.C. This reference to Sardinia is one of the factors that dates the Odyssey later than 1200 B.C.

"in the mill room..."   (Book XX)

Wheat and barley had to be milled or ground to turn it into flour for bread, which the Greeks considered essential to life. A large estate like Odysseus' would've had its own mill room, as we see here, but this wasn't true of smaller estates, and many women of the lower classes had to either make their own bread or buy it at market.

"when it is all over..."   (Book XX)

In ancient Greece, an act of revenge such as Odysseus plans often sparked an endless cycle of revenge, spurred on by the vengeful Furies. Odysseus fears that when he kills the sons of all the noblemen in Ithaca, he will himself become a target, regardless of the justness of his actions.

"the Sicels..."   (Book XX)

That is, the Sicilians, the implication being that the Sicilians are slave traders and that Telemachus might be able to make some money off of his guests (though, according to the suitors, he wouldn't be able to fetch a high price for either Odysseus or Theoclymenus).

"among the Cephallenians..."   (Book XX)

Cephallenians seems to refer to all of Odysseus' subjects, whether from Ithaca, nearby islands, or the adjacent mainland. In Book II of The Iliad, for example, in what is known as the Catalogue of Ships, there is a reference to Odysseus commanding Cephallenians, which includes men from Ithaca, Neriton, and the large island of Samos just to the south of Ithaca. On the southern part of Samos is the land identified as Cephallenia.

"for it is a feast day..."   (Book XX)

It's Apollo's feast day, in fact, and Odysseus' palace must be cleaned and prepared for the festivities. This recalls the goatherd Melanthius' earlier statement that Apollo would have a hand in Telemachus' death. Evidently, he was expecting Apollo to do so on the day of the feast, if not sooner.

"the storm winds came..."   (Book XX)

A reference to the Harpies, monstrous creatures often depicted as half female, half bird, with sharp talons, and always thought to be hungry. They were often referred to as the storm winds and swift robbers and frequently stole or bore away young maidens like the daughters of Pandareus.

"scheming Cronus..."   (Book XXI)

Cronus is referred to as scheming because, after having been warned that he would be killed by one of his children, he ate several of them. Zeus was saved when his mother, Rhea, wrapped a stone in a blanket and fed that to Cronus, allowing Zeus to later overthrew his father as prophesied.

"they drew out his vitals..."   (Book XXII)

That is, his inner organs, particularly his intestines. Some scholars believe that they also cut off his genitals in this process, but that's not explicitly stated in the text. Melanthius would've died of blood loss at this point, anyway.

"a clean death..."   (Book XXII)

That is, he won't "run them through" with his sword because that kind of death would be quick and painless. Instead, he wants them to die slowly and painfully, so he hangs them, leaving the nooses just slack enough so as not to break their necks but choke them to death.

"maddened by the gadfly..."   (Book XXII)

A gadfly is a species of fly well-known for biting and goading cattle. In modern parlance, it also refers to an irritating or difficult person, so that if we liken the suitors to the cattle, Odysseus becomes the gadfly who, at least from their perspective, torments them unfairly.

"two redoubtable bronze-shod spears..."   (Book XXII)

Redoubtable meaning formidable or commanding, something that should be feared. In ancient Greece, spears were made of a sturdy wood like ash and tipped or "shod" with bronze to increase their damage. Without proper training, they could be clumsy in battle, so Odysseus' use of two spears here is impressive.

"sulphur, which cleanses all pollution..."   (Book XXII)

Sulphur, in the form of brimstone, is used to symbolically cleanse any place that has been the scene of bloodshed. The ritual of cleansing also carries over to individuals: there are many scenes in The Iliad in which warriors who've just come from battle cleanse themselves before they enter a sacred space or make any offerings to the gods.

"her deadly aegis..."   (Book XXII)

An aegis, which is often depicted as a kind of shield with tassels around the rim, is both a defensive and offensive weapon. Zeus, for example, uses his aegis to throw thunderbolts at humans and lesser gods. Today, the word aegis means protector, often in the sense of a person's protector or protection in a corporate setting.

"a trap door on the wall..."   (Book XXII)

In this context, this is likely a small door leading from this chamber into a small passageway to another room. It's not a hidden door, as trap doors tend to be, and would be easy enough for the suitors to use as a means of escape if Odysseus didn't place a guard on it.

"a shield four hides thick..."   (Book XXII)

Greeks at this time used two types of shield: a full-body shield, which may be the one Odysseus has just hung around his shoulders, and a smaller round shield, which could be maneuvered easily during close combat. These shields would've been made out of either metal or wood and wouldn't have protected against multiple attackers at once.

"with horse-hair plumes..."   (Book XXII)

Horse-hair plumes were a prominent feature on Greek helmets, but weren't merely decorative embellishments. They were designed to ward off blows to the head and protect the wearer's skill. Traditionally, the plumes went from front to back, but some went from side to side.

"and the vultures shall devour you..."   (Book XXII)

That is to say, that Odysseus' body will go unburied and will instead be left out in the elements, where the vultures can eat him. Vultures have been mentioned a number of times already, most notably in the story of Prometheus, so that this line inadvertently aligns Odysseus with a hero.

"the fair golden wand..."   (Book XXIV)

Most likely, a caduceus, a staff carried by Hermes and other heralds that gave the appearance of two snakes intertwining. Today, the caduceus is commonly associated with the practice of medicine, and its symbol is warn by doctors and professionals as a sign of their devotion to healing people.

"Eperitus..."   (Book XXIV)

Continuing this elaborate metaphorical framework, Odysseus calls himself *Eperitus, *which means both *selected *(or, better, singled-out) and someone who is fought over, a man whose life is one of struggle. Both meanings apply to Odysseus during his voyage home, in which he has been singled-out by the gods for special attention and been forced to struggle for his life.

"Polypemon..."   (Book XXIV)

Polypemon means full of sorrow, and Laertes has just demonstrated that he is, metaphorically, the son of sorrow or grief. This kind of word play is extremely clever and difficult, and couldn't be achieved on the spot by any of the other character in The Odyssey. It's only Odysseus, with his great facility of language, who can lie so intricately.

"Alybas..."   (Book XXIV)

As scholars have noted, Alybas may have its root in the concept of wandering (al), one of the major themes of the poem. Odysseus seems to be making a self-reflexive comment about his own desire to travel and go on adventures, which we've seen throughout the poem.

"the rock Leucas..."   (Book XXIV)

Leucas means white rock in Greek, but this is the only mention of such a rock in Homer. It's possible that he refers to the Greek island of Leucas, now knows as Lefkada, which lies on the west coast of Greece, not far from Ithaca (though the established geography of Oceanus makes this unlikely).

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