The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

  Nagy, Gregory. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Abridged edition 2019.

Core Vocabulary of Key Greek Words

Depending on context, adjectives in -os (masculine), may be given with other endings: (feminine), -on (neuter), -oi (masculine plural), -ai (feminine plural), -a (neuter plural).

agathos ‘good, noble’
agōn, plural agōnes ‘coming together; competition (antagonism); ordeal (agony).
agorā, plural agorai ‘public assembly, place of public assembly’
aidōs ‘shame, sense of shame; sense of respect for others; honorableness’
ainos ‘authoritative utterance for and by a social group; praise; fable’; ainigma ‘riddle’
aitios ‘responsible, guilty’; aitiā ‘responsibility, guilt; cause, case’
akhos ‘grief, public expression of grief by way of lamentation or keening’
alēthēs (adjective) ‘true, true things’; alētheia (noun) ‘truth’
aphthito ‘imperishable, unfailing, unwilting’
aretē ‘striving for a noble goal, for high ideals; noble goal, high ideals’
aristos ‘best’, superlative of agathos; aristeiā: designates the hero’s great epic moments that demonstrate his being aristos
atē, plural atai ‘aberration, derangement, veering off-course; disaster; punishment for disaster’
āthlos (aethlos) ‘contest, ordeal; competition’; āthlētēs ‘athlete’
biā (biē in the language of Homeric poetry) ‘force, violence’
daimōn, plural daimones ‘superhuman force (= unspecified god or hero) intervening in human life’; eudaimoniā ‘state of being blessed with a good daimōn
dēmos, plural dēmoi ‘district, population of a district; community’
dikē, plural dikai ‘judgment (short-range); justice (long-range)’; dikaios ‘just’
ekhthros ‘enemy [within the community], non-philos
epos, plural epea ‘word(s) said, utterance, poetic utterance’
eris ‘strife, conflict’
esthlos ‘genuine, good, noble’; synonym of agathos
genos ‘stock (“breeding”); generating [of something or someone]; generation’
hērōs, plural hērōes ‘hero’
hēsukhos ‘serene’; hēsukhiā ‘state of being hēsukhos’
hieros ‘sacred, holy’
hōrā, plural hōrai ‘season, seasonality, the right time, the perfect time’
hubris ‘outrage’; the opposite of dikē
kakos ‘bad, evil, base, worthless, ignoble’; kakotēs ‘state of being kakos; debasement’
kamatos ‘ordeal, labor, pain’
kerdos, plural kerdea ‘gain, profit; desire for gain; craft employed for gain; craftiness; craft’
kharis, plural kharites ‘reciprocity, give-and-take, reciprocal relationship; initiation of reciprocal relationship; the pleasure or beauty derived from reciprocity, from a reciprocal relationship; gratification; grace, gracefulness; favor, favorableness’
khoros ‘chorus’ = ‘group of singers/dancers’
kleos, plural klea ‘glory, fame (especially as conferred by poetry or song); that which is heard’
koros ‘being satiated; being insatiable’
kosmos ‘arrangement, order, law and order, the social order, the universal order’
krinein ‘sort out, separate, decide, judge’
lyssa [or, more accurately, lussa] ‘rage, fury, frenzy’. This word is related to lykos ‘wolf’ [or, more accurately, lukos]; so the image is one of wolf-like rage.
mantis ‘seer, prophet’
memnēmai ‘I have total recall’ (see Hour 2§1)
mēnis ‘superhuman anger; cosmic sanction’
menos ‘power, life-force, activation’ (divinely infused into cosmic forces, like fire and wind, or into heroes); a partial synonym of thūmos; a partial synonym of mēnis
mētis ‘artifice, stratagem, cunning intelligence’
miasma ‘pollution, miasma’    
moira, plural moirai ‘portion; portion of meat divided at a sacrifice; lot in life, fate, destiny’
mūthos ‘special speech; special utterance; myth’
nemesis indicates the process whereby everyone gets what he or she deserves
nēpios, plural nēpioi ‘disconnected’ (the disconnection can be mental, moral, or emotional); on this meaning, see Edmunds 1990
nomos, plural nomoi ‘local custom; customary law; law’
noos ‘mind, thinking; perception; intuition; consciousness’; also, this word stands for the principle that reintegrates thūmos (or menos) and psūkhē after death
nostos ‘return, homecoming; song about homecoming; return to light and life’
oikos ‘house, dwelling, abode; resting place of cult hero; family line’; verb oikeîn ‘have a dwelling’
olbios ‘blessed, blissful; fortunate’; olbos ‘bliss’ (ordinarily pictured as material security)
paskhein ‘suffer, experience, be treated [badly or well]’; pathos ‘suffering, experience’
penthos ‘grief, public expression of grief by way of lamentation or keening’
philos ‘friend’ (noun); ‘dear, near-and-dear, belonging to self’ (adjective); philotēs or philiā ‘the state of being philos’
phrēn, plural phrenes: physical localization of the thūmos
polis ‘city, city-state’
ponos ‘ordeal, labor, pain’
pontos ‘sea’ (‘crossing’)
pothos ‘longing, yearning, desire’; a variant form is pothē, with the same meaning; the verb derived from this noun is potheîn ‘long for, yearn for, desire’.
psūkhē, plural psūkhai: synonym of thūmos (or menos) at the moment of death; essence of life while one is alive; conveyor of identity while one is dead
sēma, plural sēmata ‘sign, signal, symbol; tomb’; sēmainein (verb) ‘mean something, indicate something by way of a sēma
sophos ‘skilled, skilled in understanding special language’; sophiā ‘being sophos’
sōphrōn ‘moderate, balanced, with equilibrium’; sōphrosunē ‘being sōphrōn’
sōtēr ‘savior’ (either ‘bringing to safety’ or, mystically, ‘bringing back to life’); sōtēriā ‘safety, salvation’; sōzein (verb) ‘save; be a sōtēr (for someone)’
stasis ‘division in a group; strife; division [= part of an organization, like a chorus]’
telos ‘end, ending, final moment; goal, completion, fulfillment; coming full circle, rounding out; successfully passing through an ordeal; intiation; ritual, rite’
themis, plural themistes ‘something divinely ordained’
therapōn, plural therapontes ‘attendant; ritual substitute’
thūmos ‘heart, spirit’ (designates realm of consciousness, of rational and emotional functions)
tīmē, plural tīmai ‘honor; honor paid to a superhuman force by way of cult’
turannos, plural turannoi (Lydian word for ‘king’): ‘king’ (from the viewpoint of most Greek dynasties); ‘unconstitutional ruler’ (from the viewpoint of Greek democracy)
xenos, plural xenoi ‘stranger who should be treated like a guest by a host, or like a host by a guest; xeniā ‘reciprocal relationship between xenoi’; when the rules of xeniā do not work, a xenos risks defaulting to the status of simply stranger