adyton Small area at farthest end of the cella from the entrance; often houses cult image of the deity.
Amazonomachy Battle of the Athenians against the Amazons.
Amphictyonic League Religious association of Greek tribes formed before the rise of the Greek polis.
Argonautica Greek epic poem written by Apollonius Rhodius in third century BCE; only surviving Hellenistic epic; tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from remote Colchis.
Asphodel Fields One of the three areas of the Underworld along with Tartarus and Elysian fields.
Athena Alcidemus Epithet of Athena, the city-goddess of Pella, Macedonia.
Athena Ilias Ajax the Lesser raped Cassandra in this temple of Athena and this resulted in his death; angry, Poseidon wrecked his ship on the coast of Euboea, and Zeus killed Ajax with a lightning bolt; for his crime, Locrians had to send two unmarried maidens to the temple of Athena at Ilion of Athens for 1,000 years, where they should live until they died; Athena is referred to as Athena Ilias—a name not necessarily derived from Ilion, but maybe from the family deity Oileus, the father of Ajax—she could have protected the maidens during their period of initiation.
Augean Stables The stables of King Augeas of Elis; housed single greatest number of cattle in the country; had never been cleaned—until Heracles did so as one of his twelve labors.
Bucephalus The favorite steed of Alexander III.
(Cabiri, Kabeiroi, or Kabiri)
Group of enigmatic chthonic deities; worshiped in a mystery cult closely associated with Hephaestus; centered in the north Aegean islands of Lemnos and possibly Samothrace—at the Samothrace temple complex—and at Thebes; distant origins of the Cabeiri and the Samothracian gods may include pre-Greek elements, or other non-Greek elements, such as Hittite, Thracian, proto-Etruscan, or Phrygian.
Campe Dragon that guards Tartarus.
catafalque Decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of distinguished person during funeral or while lying in state.
cella (noa) Inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture.
Cerberus Multi-headed dog, or hellhound, with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, and a lion’s claws; guards the entrance of the Underworld to prevent the dead from escaping and the living from entering.
Ceryneian Hind Also called Cerynitis, or the Golden Hind; enormous hind (deer), who lived in Keryneia, Greece; sacred to Artemis; had golden antlers like a stag and hooves of bronze or brass; could outrun an arrow in flight.
Cetus Sea monster to whom Andromeda was being been sacrificed.
chiliarch Translates to commander of a thousand; military rank dating back to antiquity; command of a chiliarch is a chiliarchy.
Chimaera Monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature of Lycia in Asia Minor; usually depicted as a lion, with head of a goat arising from its back, and tail ending with a snake’s head; offspring of Typhon and Echidna and sibling to Cerberus and Lernaean Hydra.
chiton Form of clothing; a sewn garment, unlike the peplos, a draped garment held on the shoulders by a fibula.
Chrysaor Giant born from the neck of the beheaded Gorgon, Medusa.
Cocytus River of lamentation in the Underworld
Colonus A deme to the northwest of Athens, near Plato’s Academy; also a hillock near Athens Agora on which the temple of Hephaestus still stands.
Cretan Bull The bull Pasiphaë fell in love with, giving birth to the Minotaur; captured by Heracles at the request of King Eurystheus as his seventh task.
Cyclopes (Elder) Three one-eyed giants who forged the lightning-bolts of Zeus, trident of Poseidon, and helmet of Hades: Arges, Brontes, and Steropes.
Cyclopes (Younger) Tribe of one-eyed, man-eating giants who herded flocks of sheep on the island of Sicily.
decarchy Governing body of ten.
Delian League Association of Greek 150 – 173 poleis; under the leadership of Athens; purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the second Persian invasion of Greece; founded in 478 BCE.
diadem Jeweled ornament in the shape of a half crown; wreath worn around the head; Persians wore a high and erect royal tiara encircled with a diadem.
Diadochi Rival generals, families, and friends of Alexander III who fought for control over his empire after his death in 323 BCE; The Wars of the Diadochi mark the beginning of the Hellenistic period.
dikasts Athenian citizens chosen by lot to serve as jurors.
divine honors
Also called divinization and deification; glorification of a subject to divine level.
Elysian Fields Fields within one of the three areas of the Underworld along with Tartarus and Asphodel.
ephebe Young man between ages of eighteen and twenty who has petitioned for full citizenship.
ephebic training Military training of an ephebe.
Ergastines Young women in charge of weaving the peplos over-garment offered to Athena.
Erinyes Children of Gaia and Uranus; the Avenging Furies.
eromenos An adolescent boy courted by an older man, or in an erotic relationship with an older man.
Erymanthian Boar Giant fear-inspiring creature of the wilds; lived on Mount Erymanthos, once sacred to the Mistress of the Animals; sent by Apollo to kill Adonis, a favorite of Aphrodite, as revenge for the goddess blinding Apollo’s son, Erymanthus, when he saw her bathing.
Fields of Asphodel Fields within Asphodel, one of the five regions of the Underworld.
Geryon Son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe; grandson of Medusa; Three-bodied giant who dwelt on the sunset isle at the ends of the earth (the red island of Erytheia); monster with one body and three human heads, six hands, six feet, winged, and the appearance of a warrior; owns two-headed hound named Orthrus, brother of Cerberus, and a herd of magnificent red cattle; slain by Heracles when he arrived to fetch the giant’s cattle as one of his twelve labors.
Offspring of Gaia (Earth); born from the blood that fell when Uranus (Sky) was castrated by their Titan son, Cronus, who fought the Gigantomachy, a war with the Olympian gods for supremacy of the cosmos.
Girdle of Hippolyte Armor of the queen of the Amazons given to her by her father, Ares.
Golden Apples of Hesperides Golden apples belonging to Zeus, a wedding gift from Hera; kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, and the Hesperides, nymph-daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the Earth upon his shoulders.
Graeae Three women who shared a single eye between them; told Perseus how to find Medusa.
gymnasion Training facility for competitors in public games; place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits; derived from Greek term gymnós meaning naked.
halteres Lead or stone weights used to propel a long jumper forward.
Hekatonkheires Hundred-handed ones; giant gods of violent storms and hurricanes; three sons of Uranus and Gaia, each with their own distinct characters: Briareus (The Vigorous), Cottus (The Furious), and Gyges (The Big-Limbed).
helots State-owned slaves of Sparta.
hemiglyph Half channel or groove in the edge of the triglyph in the Doric order.
Heracleidae The numerous descendants of Heracles—especially applied in a narrower sense to the descendants of Hyllus, the eldest of his four sons by Deïaneira.
Shrine dedicated to Greek hero; used for commemoration or worship of the hero; often erected over his or her tomb or cenotaph.
hexareme Warship.
hoplites Poleis’ citizen-soldiers primarily armed with spears and shields; primarily free citizens—propertied farmers and artisans—able to afford bronze armor suit and weapons (estimated at a third to a half of its able-bodied adult male population); generally received basic military training; main tactic was the phalanx formation.
Goddesses of the seasons and natural portions of time; originally personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but later regarded as goddesses of order in general and natural justice.
Hypaspists Elite infantry force of Alexander III’s army; carried the traditional panoply and weapons of the Greek hoplite—thorax or linothorax, greaves, the dory (spear), and xiphos (shortsword).
Iliad Ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter traditionally attributed to Homer; set during Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states; tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.
kalamos Pen made from hard reed, split at the tip to hold ink.
kine Oxen.
koilon Theatre, auditorium; the cavea.
Kouretes Armored male dancers who made noise to hide the cries of baby Zeus.
Lapiths Legendary people of Greek mythology, whose home was in Thessaly, in the valley of the Peneus and on the mountain Pelion.
Leonidaion Lodging place for athletes taking part in the Olympic Games at Olympia.
Lernaean Hydra Ancient serpent-like water monster with reptilian traits; possessed more heads than vase-painters could paint; for each head cut off it grew two more; poisonous breath and blood so virulent, even its scent was deadly.
Lethe River of forgetfulness in the Underworld.
linothorax Upper-body armor used by the Greek poleis, as well as other civilizations including Macedonia.
Lyceum Public meeting place in grove of trees in Athens; best known for connection with Aristotle, but was in existence before he founded his Peripatetic school 334/335 BCE.
machaira Used by modern scholars to describe a type of ancient bladed weapon, generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge.
Magadha Empire One of the sixteen mahajanapadas of ancient India; core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganges.
magnus antistes High-ranking Egyptian priest.
Mares of Diomedes Also called Mares of Thrace; four man-eating horses—magnificent, wild, and uncontrollable—belonging to the giant, Diomedes, king of Thrace, son of Ares and Cyrene who lived on the shores of the Black Sea (not to be confused with Diomedes, son of Tydeus); Bucephalus, Alexander III’s horse, was said to be descended from these mares.
Medes Ancient Iranian people who lived in an area known as Media (in modern-day northwestern Iran).
Meliae Children of Gaia and Uranus; Ash Tree Nymphs.
metopes Rectangular architectural element filling space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze—a decorative band of alternating triglyphs and metopes above the architrave of a building of the Doric order; often had painted or sculptural decoration.
Metroön The shrine of Rhea, mother to Zeus, at Altis, the Oracle of Olympia.
The Fates; white-robed incarnations of Destiny: Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter), and Atropos (unturnable).
Mothakes Citizens of other places who have been raised as Spartans.
mousikos agon Competitive games for musicians held in Delphi.
Nereids Sea nymphs; female spirits of sea waters; fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris; sisters to Nerites; distinct from Sirens; often accompany Poseidon.
noa (cella) Inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture.
Female spirits of the natural world; minor goddesses of the forests, rivers, springs, meadows, mountains, and seas; responsible for the crafting of nature’s wild beauty, from the arrangement and growth of the plants, flowers, and trees, to the nurture of wild birds and animals, and the formation of rocky caverns, springs, wetlands, and brooks.
Oceanids Sea nymphs who were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys; each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower, or cloud; some, such as Calypso, Clymene, Asia, Electra/Ozomene, were closely associated with the Titan gods or personified abstract concepts (Tyche, Peitho).
Odyssey Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer; in part, a sequel to the Iliad.
Olympia A sanctuary of Zeus in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula; known for having been the site of the Olympic Games.
Olympiad A unit of time measure equal to about four years.
Olympians The second generation of gods: Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Hades, Poseidon, and others.
Omphalos The stone Rhea presented to Cronus as the infant Zeus, which he swallowed whole.
opisthodomus Inner portico at rear of temple’s cella, corresponding to the pronaos in front.
oracle A priestess or priest who conveys the god’s messages; a place where priests or priestesses live; a prophecy issued by a priest or priestess.
Orthus Two-headed dog that guarded Geryon’s cattle; killed by Heracles; offspring of the monsters Echidna and Typhon; brother to Cerberus, also a multi-headed guard dog.
palaestra Training building for wrestling, boxing, and long jumpers.
Paleochristian Basilica Crypt at Altis, Olympia.
Panhellenic Games Collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece.
pankration Sporting event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BCE and founded as a blend of boxing and wrestling but with few rules beyond no biting or gouging of the opponent’s eyes.
panoplies Complete set of arms or suit of armor.
paraskenia A long wall with projecting sides with doorways for entrances and exit of a theatre.
Parthenon Temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron; construction began in 447 BCE when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power.
Peace of Antalcidas Also known as the King’s Peace; peace treaty guaranteed by Persian King Artaxerxes II ending the Corinthian War; alternate name comes from Antalcidas, Spartan diplomat who traveled to Susa to negotiate the terms of the treaty with the king of Achaemenid Persia.
Pegasus Horse-son of Poseidon and Medusa; brother of Chysaor; born after Perseus chopped off Medusa’s head.
peleiades Doves.
pentekontors Greek galley ship in use since archaic period (also a military commander of fifty men); versatile, long-range ships used for sea trade, piracy, and warfare; capable of transporting freight or troops; rowed by fifty oarsmen, arranged in two rows of twenty-five on each side of the ship.
peplos Dress woven by select noble Athenian girls, the Ergastines, and offered each year to Athena.
perioikoi Freedmen living in Sparta.
Persian Empire A series of imperial dynasties centered in Persia; first of these was established by Cyrus The Great in 550 BC, with the Persian conquest of Media, Lydia, and Babylonia.
pharaonic Of, relating to, or characteristic of a pharaoh or the pharaohs.
phiale Shallow ceramic or metal libation bowl.
Philippeion A circular memorial made of limestone and marble at Altis, the Oracle of Zeus at Olympia.
Phlegethon River of fire in the Underworld.
Phlegon One of the fire-darting steeds that pull Helius’s chariot (the sun) cross the sky.
Pinarus River Small stream in southern Anatolia near modern-day Turkey-Syria border; site of the First Battle of Issus, where Alexander III defeated Darius III of Persia.
polis Greek city-state.
poleis Plural form of Greek city-state.
prodromoi Skirmisher light cavalry; name means moving before the rest of the army; equipped with javelins, argive shields, and cavalry sword; sometimes wore either linen or leather armor, as well as bronze helmets; in army of Philip II and Alexander, carried skirmishing equipment for scouting and outpost duties; occasionally brigaded together with heavy cavalry for a charge, in which case they would have been re-armed with the sarissa and given the epithet sarissophoroi.
Propylaia Built as a monumental entrance to the Acropolis rock; surrounds natural entrance to the plateau; one approached through an inclining ramp leading through to the steps in front of the Propylaia.
propylaeum Vestibule or entrance of architectural importance before a building or enclosure (or altar).
proskenion A low wall to further decorate the stage placed in front of the performance area.
pteruges Decorative skirt of leather or fabric strips worn around the waists; also similarly fashioned epaulette-like strips worn on the shoulders.
Pyrois One of the fire-darting steeds that pull Helius’s chariot (the sun) cross the sky.
Pythia Apollo’s oracle at Delphi.
Pytho The cave of Python, protector of Omphalos.
quadrireme Warship designed by the Carthaginians with two levels of oarsmen, and built lower than its predecessor, the quinquereme.
quinquereme Warship; a common heavy warship with a 2–2–1 pattern of oarsmen, the quinquereme would have 90 oars in each side, and 30-strong files of oarsmen.
sarissa An exceedingly long spear designed by Philip II for his infantry.
satrap Provincial governor in Persian empire.
Scamander River god, son of Oceanus and Tethys; fought on the side of the Trojans during Trojan War; attempted to kill Achilles three times, was only saved due to the intervention of Hera, Athena, and Hephaestus.
scholarch Head of a school in ancient Greece; especially remembered for its use to mean the heads of schools of philosophy, such as the Platonic Academy.
septireme Warship; very large warship designed by Alexander III.
skênê Scenic backdrop for a play.
Somatophylakes Alexander III’s personal bodyguards.
Spartiates Citizens of Sparta who enjoy full rights; Males of Sparta known to the Spartans as peers or men of equal status.
stadion Running event; part of the Olympic Games and other Panhellenic Games.
stoa Covered walkway or portico; commonly for public use; early stoas were open at the entrance with columns, lining the side of the building; created safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.
stylobate Top step of the crepidoma—stepped platform upon which colonnades of temple columns are placed; floor of the temple; built on leveling course flattening out ground immediately beneath the temple.
Stymphalian Birds Man-eating birds with beaks of bronze, sharp metallic feathers they could launch at victims, and poisonous dung; pets of Ares; migrated to a marsh in Arcadia to escape pack of wolves; there they bred quickly and swarmed countryside, destroying crops, fruit trees, and townspeople.
Styx Titaness of the Underworld river Styx; personification of hatred; river of hate in the Underworld; home to the ferryman, Charon.
Swat Valley Swat is a river valley and an administrative district in modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan; upper valley of Swat River, which rises in Hindu Kush range.
synthronos Co-occupant of the divine throne.
tagus Thessalian title for a leader or general, especially the military leader of the Thessalian League.
talent Monetary value equal to the silver of a month’s wages for a trireme crew of 200.
Tartarus Gaia’s womb; prison in the Underworld; father of Typhon.
Taulanti Cluster of Illyrian tribes; Taulas, one of the six sons of Illyrius, was the eponymous ancestor of the Taulanti.
Temple of Athena Nike Temple on the Acropolis of Athens; built ca. 420 BCE; earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis; prominent position on a steep bastion at the southwest corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea.
Tenedos Island captured by Achilles during siege of Troy; obtained his slave, Hecamede, there during one of Achilles’ raids; place of worship and sacrifice after end of Trojan War.
Theokoleon Building with rooms around a court; west of the Sanctuary of Zeus (Altis); south of the Palaestra, east of the Heroon.
Thessalian Centauromachy Battle of the Lapiths aided by Theseus against the Centaurs.
Titanomachy The war between the Titans and the Olympians.
Triballi Ancient tribe of the plains of modern, southern Serbia and western Bulgaria.
triglyph Architectural term for vertically channeled tablets of the Doric frieze; named as such due to angular channels, two perfect and one divided, the two chamfered angles or hemiglyphs being reckoned as one.
Trojan Palladium Wooden image of Pallas (whom the Greeks identified with Athena) that fell from heaven in answer to prayer of Ilus, founder of Troy (Ilion).
Typhon Monstrous immortal storm-giant who attempted to launch an attack on Mount Olympus but was defeated by the Olympians and imprisoned in the pits of Tartarus.
waterskin Bag made from sheep, cow, goat’s bladder or leader to transport water; worn slung over one shoulder; leather bags were treated with tree resin to make them waterproof.