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The Odyssey Reading Club -- Entry 8 -- Glossary & Cast of Characters for Book III

Sorry for the delay with this--I was attending Gallifrey One, the annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles for the past 6 days, so I'm a little off schedule. But now I'm back, and rarin' to go! If you need a refresher, this entry will merely sort through new characters and references from Book III. To avoid duplication, here are the entries for Book I and Book II. There are quite a few references in Book III to characters from The Iliad, which Homer would have assumed his listeners to be familiar with, so this may be a lengthy entry.

Neleus--Father of Nestor, former King of Pylos, killed by Heracles. (Interestingly, this gives us some sense of where the exploits of Heracles are to be placed in relation to the Trojan War. Since Heracles served on the Argo with Jason, a lot of Greek myth, for which there is no canon or written text, can be roughly tied together in this fashion.)

Pisistratus and Thrasymedes--The two most prominent of Nestor's surviving sons. Pisistratus is quite young and was born around the same time as Telemachus, while Thrasymedes fought in the Trojan War.

The Son of Cronus--Zeus. (Though, technically, it could also be either Hades or Poseidon, who are also sons of Cronus.) Also, interestingly enough, the Fitzgerald translation skips the poetical construction all together and just calls him Zeus.

Amphitrite--A sea goddess, wife of Poseidon.

Achilles--Greatest of the Greek soldiers at Troy. The Iliad is the story of Achilles leaving the battlefield because of a dispute with Agamemnon and the various attempts by the Greek forces to get him to return, which he eventually does, to great effect.

Priam--King of Troy who had 50 sons, including Hector, Paris, and Aeneas.

Ajax--The greatest Greek solider, save Achilles.

Patroclus--Achilles' closest friend, possibly his lover. It was his death at the hands of Priam's son Hector that triggered Achilles' re-entry onto the field of battle. Interestingly, Patroclus re-entered the fray as part of a stratagem devised by Odysseus.

Atreus--Father of Agamemnon and Menelaus, and head of the cursed House of Atreus.

Athena's dreadful wrath--Athena's anger at the victorious Greek troops after the siege of Troy is mentioned but not explained. During the siege of Troy, the Trojan princess and prophetess Cassandra clung to the statue of Athena for sanctuary. However, she was raped and taken into slavery by the Greek forces. The rapists were not punished, and Athena was angered by this desecration.

Diomedes--Another Greek warrior who fought in the Trojan War, and one of the youngest. A main figure in The Iliad, he is portrayed as being possessed of great virtue, wisdom, and martial ability.

Tenedos, Lesbos, Chios, Psyrie, Mimas, Euboea, Geraestus--Islands and coastal areas in and around the Aegean Sea which separates mainland Greece from Asia Minor.

The Myrmidons--Brave warriors who served under Achilles. Allegedly descended from ants. Seriously.

Philoctetes--A great archer who was initially abandoned by the Greek forces on the way to Troy after receiving a snake bite on his foot which grew infected and rendered him lame. He was recalled by Odysseus and Diomedes and is the main character in an (excellent) play by Sophocles that bears his name.

Idomeneus--King of Crete, one of the leaders of the Greek forces, and title character in an early opera by Mozart.

Atrides--Son or descendant of Atreus, in this case Menelaus.

Apollo--God of the Sun, and light, and poetry, and music, and healing, and about a dozen other things. Twin brother of the Moon goddess Artemis.

Lacadaemon--The heartland territory of the Peloponnese (the southeastern section of Greece), governed by Sparta.

Cauconians--A tribe that has literally vanished from history. Nobody knows who they were, what they spoke, or even really where they lived. This is one of very few references to them ever made. So, who knows?

Perseus--One of the sons of Nestor, who I only call out to stress that it is not the Perseus of the Gorgon, etc.

Eurydice--Again, not that Eurydice. Orpheus was a few generations before the time of the Trojan War.

Tomorrow (I hope), the Book III summary!


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