An epithet is defined as an adjective or a descriptive phrase that expresses a characteristic or a quality of a person.

 

Homer uses these epithets throughout the Odysssey instead of directly stating characters' names in order to distinguish one character from another. They were also used because he needed to follow a specific rhyming pattern. Having epithets to use made writing the structured poem much easier.

GODS AND EPITHETS 

Athena

Sparkling eyed, daughter of Zeus, Clear eyed, Bright eyed, Flashing sea-gray eyes, Queen, daughter of Zeus.

The gleaming eyed goddess of The Odyssey. Shifting shape and face to instill faith into Telemachus. Her wisdom and strategy help steer the hero and his son from tragedy in each of their individual quests. Her request to the almighty Zeus was accepted and Odysseus was no longer neglected. It was her affection that lessened his suffering. Shrouding him in mists on foreign land and hiding him amidst his own countryman. It is only through her guidance Odysseus was able to survive the wrath of Poseidon.

Mighty Giant Killer, the Guide, God of the Gold Wand, messenger of Olympic gods, the strong one, Son of Zeus.

Hermes

He is the fleet of foot messenger of the gods. Famed for freely traveling back and forth through hades. Revered for slaying giants despite his stature. He ended the disaster that nearly destroyed the morale of the epic mortal Odysseus. He provided the elixir that prevented the witch’s liquor from turning him to swine as the wine did to his comrades. He converted Odysseus’ sadness to joy when he relayed the request from Zeus that Calypso let go the patriarch prisoner poised to payback Penelope’s suitors.

Sea lord, Earth-Shaker, God of Earthquake, God of the sea-blue mane, son of Titans Cronus and Rhea.

Poseidon

The trident holding son of a titan, striking frightening feelings of hopelessness, in the heart of a hero for crossing this omnipotent Olympian. He is the king of the seas who oversees the waves, and pays the debt of vengeance for his blinded son Polyphemus. There is only one other god greater than the earth shaker who makes the land rattle when cattle is not sacrificed in his name. The pain and suffering he inflicts on poor Odysseus throughout his quest is a stress that would kill any mere mortal. Swirling whirlpools and monstrous waves, crashing down and destroying any craft made to return the hero to his native shores. 

Son of Cronus, Lord of Justicce, cloud-gatherer, mighty, wide-seeing.

Zeus

He is the king of the gods who overthrew his titan ancestors with his lightning bolts and scepter. All actions occur only at the say of his word. He commands from his throne at his home on Mount Olympus. The simplest task can become insurmountable if he holds you accountable to a grievance against him or another. The mighty son of Cronus charged with the onus of holding judgment on all life. As displayed when the skies went black and the clouds grayed overhead the craft boarded by the crafty Odysseus. He struck vengeance down on the hollow ship for sorrow brought to Apollo’s slaughtered cattle. He allowed Poseidon, his brother, to make suffer the original hero Odysseus. Then when the debt was paid through torment he sent  strong winds to send the hero on his way to the land which he yearned to stay.

© 2015 by The Sacred Heart University Thomas More Honors Program