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CTC Glossary of the Classics
Category: Language and Literature > Classical History
Date & country: 11/09/2007, USA
Words: 1485


Appius Claudius
a powerful political figure in the Roman Republic, Appius Claudius left behind two major monuments to his political career: the Aqua Appia and the Via Appia; the Via Appia was the most significant road through south Italy and the Aqua Appia was the first major aqueduct in Rome; he was censor in 312 BCE, consul in 307 and 297 and praetor in 295; Appius Claudius worked to include poorer people in the different tribes of Rome to increase their influence in the tribal assembly, although this work was repealed in 304 BCE; however, he also opposed the entry of plebeians to two major priesthoods.

Apuleius
a writer and orator who was born in Northern Africa around 125 CE; his most famous text is a long novel entitled Metamorphoses, which is also translated as the Golden Ass; this long novel follows its protagonist, Lucius, as he is magically transformed into a donkey and has to undergo many trials before he can eat roses and become human again; at the end of the novel, Lucius converts to the worship of Isis.

Apuleius.Ancillus
(Latin) male servant; an ancillus could also be referred to in Latin as a

Aqua Appia
Roman aqueduct built in 312 BCE; the first of the major Roman aqueducts; named for Appius Claudius who also constructed and gave his name to the Via Appia.

Aquarius
also known as Ganymede; a constellation; Aquarius was closely associated with water in many ancient cultures, including Babylonian, Egyptian, and Ethiopian, in which he was the 'water-bearer.'

Aqueduct
originally invented by the Etruscans and modified by the Romans, the aqueduct is a channel or conduit the conducts water over long distances usually by means of gravity.

Ara
(Latin) 'the altar,' a constellation commemorating sacrifices made by the Greeks and Romans to the gods; the Romans called the constellation Ara Centauri.

Ara Pacis Augustae
(Latin) 'Altar of the Peace of Augustus'; an altar in Rome on the Campus Martius that was completed and dedicated in 9 CE by Augustus; the altar celebrated peace after the many wars Rome had fought.

Aratrum
(Latin) a Greek plow used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Arboreus
(Latin) something about or similar to trees

Archaic
a period of ancient Greek history from approximately 750 to 500 BCE.

Architectural-Pediment
the triangular facing along the front or side of a building which often included a sculpture scene.

Arcularius
(Latin) carpenter; an arcularius made boxes and/or jewel-cases, in Latin, arculae.

Ares
Greek god of war, son of Zeus and Hera; read the Homeric Hymn to Ares to learn more; identified by Romans as Mars.

Aretê
goodness, excellence.

Argeiphontes
See Hermes.

Argenteus
(Latin) silver; this word is derived from the Latin word for silver, argentum.

Argives
names for the original inhabitants of Greece; also called Danai.

Argonaut
a sailor who sailed on the Argos with Jason.

Argos
the name of Odysseus' favorite hunting dog, who having grown old and useless during Odysseus' twenty year absence from Ithaca, dies upon seeing his master again after waiting faithful for him to return; (2) the builder of the Argo, the shipped sailed by Jason and the Argonauts; (3) the son of Zeus and Niobe who introduced the practice of tilling the soil and planting corn to Greece.

Argumentum
(Latin) argument.

Aries
an ancient battering-ram that could shake or break through the walls of a besieged city; the aries was made out of a tree-trunk that had metal attached to one end of it.

Aristeia
(Greek) excellence; often epics include an aristeia of a character; for example, in the Iliad, there is an aristeia of Diomedes that demonstrates his excellence as a warrior.

Aristocracy
a government or state ruled by an elite or privileged class; from the Greek word meaning rule of the best, aristokratia.

Aristogeiton
conspirator against the Greek tyrants Hippias and Hipparchus; he and his friend Harmodius hatched a plan to kill the two tyrants in 514 BCE, however they were only successful in the killing of Hipparchus; Thucydides recounts their plan and its outcome in his history text.

Aristophanes
a Greek comic playwright of the 4th century BCE; his plays include a skewering of Socrates and the sophists in The Clouds, the gender power reversal play Lysistrata and the pro-peace play The Acharnians; Aristophanes was also a character in Plato`s The Symposium, where he suggested that people in love were two halves of the same body that had been split in two.

Aristophanes Of Byzantium
a Greek literary scholar who became the chief librarian of Alexandria in 194 BCE; he died in 180 BCE.

Aristotle
Athenian philosopher and a student of Plato who was concerned with natural phenomena; tutor of Alexander the Great; Aristotle began teaching in Athens in 335 BCE; during that same year he founded the Lyceum (Peripatetic school); author of the Poetics, The Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, among other works; when Aristotle dies in 322 BCE, Theophrates becomes head of the Lyceum.

Arma Virumque Cano
(Latin) the first three words of the Aeneid; generally, epicists would place the most important words of their poems at the very beginning; the Iliad begins with the word for wrath as it mostly describes the consequences of Achilles` wrath; the Aeneid begins with arms and a man I sing, showing that the most important topics of this epic will be war and Aeneas; it is important that during the early Augustan Age, some of the most significant political and social movement focused on wars (against Antony and civil war) and the development of a single man, Augustus.

Arminius
leader of a Germanic tribe who led an defense against the Roman general Varus in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE.

Artemis
goddess of the hunt, eternally young and untamed; daughter of Zeus and Leto, sister of Apollo; identified by Romans as Diana.

Artium Baccalaureus
(Latin) Bachelor of Arts.

Artium Magister
(Latin) Master of Arts.

As
(Latin) a small unit of currency; the as in Rome could be roughly equivalent to a penny in the American monetary system.

Ascanius
son of Aeneas, also known as Iulus, a name which designates him as an ancestor of the Julian family at Rome (Aeneid).

Asklepiads
Asklepiads were members of a guild of physicians that traced its origins to Asklepios, the god of healing; it seems likely that Hippocrates, the most famous physician and teacher of medicine of his time, would have been an Asclepiad.

Asklepios
a Greek hero, son of Apollo and Coronis, who became the god of healing and medicine; Coronis was unfaithful to Apollo and Artemis killed Coronis to avenge her brother; when Coronis was placed on her funeral pyre, Apollo took his unborn son from Coronis' womb; Asklepios was sent to Chiron, the centaur, who taught Asklepios the art of healing; Asklepios revived a slain follower of Artemis with the blood of a gorgon given to him by Athena; angered that the ability of a mortal to revive the dead, Zeus killed Asklepios with a bolt of lightening; regretting his actions, Zeus made Asklepios a god, placing him in the sky as the constellation, Ophiuchus (the serpent-bearer); worshiped throughout the Greek world, Asklepios' most famous sanctuary was located in Epidaurus.

Astragalos
a knucklebone used in games; the Greeks originally made game pieces from astragaloi, the knucklebones of sheep or goats; the Roman game of knucklebones, inherited from the Greeks, is called tali and was perhaps the most popular Roman game.

Astrum
(Latin) star, constellation.

Aten
ancient Egyptian god of the sun, Aten was also called the creator of man; Aten was born again each day; like the sun, Aten nurtured the Earth and, according to the Book of the Dead, the deceased even called on him to nurture the living with his rays; Aten was depicted as a sun-disk with rays falling upon the Earth.

Athena (Athene)
goddess of wisdom, the arts, and prudent warfare; associated with philosophy; she was also the patroness of spinning, weaving, embroidery, and other household activities practiced by women; her mother was Metis though Athena was born from Zeus' head because Zeus feared a prophecy that said the son Metis bore him after Athena would dethrone him; thus Zeus swallowed Metis and just before Athena was born, Hephaestus used an axe to split open Zeus' head and Athena emerged in full armor; Athena favored Achilles in the Trojan war (Iliad); acted as the protector of Odysseus in the Odyssey and Herakles during his Twelve Labors; identified by the Romans as Minerva; Athena is depicted carrying a spear and wearing a helmet and the aegis; the owl and the olive tree are associated with Athena; she had a best friend, Pallas, whom she killed accidentally; Athena was brought up by the god Triton whose daughter was Pallas; together Athena and Pallas practiced warfare but one day, just as Pallas was about to strike Zeus feared for Athena and appeared between the two girls; Zeus held the aegis in front of Pallas who was so frightened that she failed to parry Athena's blow and was killed; in honor of Pallas, Athena constructed a statue, the Palladium.

Athens
a city in Greece, occupied from prehistoric times through the present; the Acropolis at Athens provides a natural defense against attack; during the Persian invasion of 480 BCE, the original fortification of Athens' Acropolis were destroyed and were rebuilt in 478 BCE; the 5th century building program of Pericles resulted in the classical structures for which the Athenian Acropolis is famous; in 404 BCE the Acropolis was destroyed again by the Spartan and was rebuilt in 394 BCE.

Atomism
theory originated by Leucippus, developed by Democritus and adopted by Epicurus as a basis of his moral philosophy according to which the universe is made up of invisible and indestructible elements called atoms.

Atra
(Latin) dark, gloomy.

Atrium
(Latin) in a Roman domus (house), the atrium was the central hall that followed the fauces, the jaws or entryway of the house, and opened into the tablinum, the reception area where guests were greeted.

Attalus
(269-197 BCE) ruler of Pergamum, a city in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey); Attalus was a skilled diplomat and he brought Pergamum to its initial prominence.

Attica
an area in ancient Greece of approximately 1,000 square miles of which Athens was the

Auctoritas
(Latin) spiritual authority, the idea of knowing one`s position in society and exercising the correct amount of dignity and gravity.

Augeo
(Latin) to increase.

Augures
(Latin) priests who read auspices and determine whether the gods approved or disapproved of a future deed; they could also decide where to build religious buildings and hold religious rituals; they could read auspices based upon patterns in clouds or smoke, birds in flight or the entrails of sacrificed

Augustus
C. Octavius, born 63 BCE; son of Octavius and Atia, niece of Gauis Julius Caesar; elected to the pontifical college in 48 BCE; campaigned with Caesar in Spain and in 45 BCE fought the Pompeians at Munda; adopted by Caesar, he takes on his adopted father's name becoming C. Julius Caesar Octavianus; forms the Second Triumvirate (triumviri rei publicae constituendae) in 38 BCE with Mark Antony and Lepidus; had one daughter, Julia, by his second wife (Scribonia), whom he married to Marcellus; establishes the Actian Games in Greece in 27 BCE to commemorate his victory at Actium; reigned as Roman Emperor from 27 to 14 BCE; following in the footsteps of his adopted father, Augustus becomes pontifex maximus upon the death of Lepidus; succeeded by his stepson Tiberius; Augustus is honorific title given by the Roman senate to Octavius, also known as animals.

Aulaeum
(Latin) any work that has embroidery on it; curtains, especially those found in a theater.

Aulos
(Latin) a double flute often used by a satyr to provide music in Dionysiac scenes.

Aulus Gellius
author of Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights); this text was probably published around 180 CE; the Noctes Atticae comments on diverse subject matter and uses dialogue, like Plato`s texts also did; later authors and students relied upon Aulus Gellius for knowledge and as a model for an interesting writing

Auriga
(Latin) a driver or a charioteer; an auriga refers to someone who is in charge of a vehicle, both on the every-day roads and also inside the chariot racing course; chariot racing was a popular sport in ancient Rome and races took place in the Campus Martius and the Colosseum.

Aurora
(Latin) dawn; this word is the same as the name of a goddess of the Dawn in Roman mythology.

Autocracy
governmental or ruling authority held by a single person, an absolute monarchy; from the Greek word meaning sole power, autokrateia.

Autumnus
(Latin) autumn; the opposite season of ver, or spring.

Auxilia
(Latin) additional military troops; these troops could have included cavalry, archers, etc.

Avaritia
(Latin) greed; the English word avarice is etymologically tied to this word.

Aveste
(Latin) a chambermaid who helped her mistress dress each day and for all occasions.

Babylon
an ancient city, located about 50 miles south of modern-day Baghdad; this city first flourished during Hammurabi's rule from 1792-1750 BCE; eventually Babylon grew most powerful under the Persian Achaemenid and Seleucid rulers; there have been many important excavations of Babylon, and many cuneiform tablets have been found there.

Bacchae
female worshippers of Dionysus (Bacchus) and title of tragedy by Euripides

Bacchanalia
(Latin) three-day wild festival held originally only by women in honor of the god Bacchus; eventually men were also allowed at the festival; the Bacchanalia was banned, except when explicitly allowed, by the Senate in 186 BCE by means of the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus.

Bacchant[E]S
female follower of Dionysus (Bacchus); see Bacchae and maenad.

Baculum
(Latin) a walking stick.

Balatro
(Latin) fool, jester.

Baldric
a belt or strap hung diagonally from the shoulder to the hip from which weapons might be hung.

Ballista
(Latin) a high powered crossbow that hurled missiles long distances and could pierce armor.

Barbarian
term used by Greeks for non-Greeks.

Basilica
(Latin) a Roman public building used as an exchange and law court; the origin of the word basilica is the ancient Greek word basileus, king; a basilica was originally a royal palace, but for the Romans it served judicial and business purposes; according to Vitruvius' De Architectura Libri Decem, the dimensions of the basilica had to follow prescribed standards, for example, the width of the basilica had to be one half to one third of its length; the earliest basilica in Roma was built by Cato the Elder in 184 BCE; in the Roman forum, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior built the Basilica Aemilia in 179 BCE; Julius Caesar began building the Basilica Julia in 54 BCE and Augustus finished it.

Bastet
an ancient Egyptian goddess; the daughter of Re and mother of Khonsu (the moon), Bastet was the goddess of cats, fire, the home, and pregnant women; appearing in myth as both submissive and belligerent, Bastet protected expecting mothers and slaughtered enemies.

Bater
in ancient Greek athletics, a fixed point on the side of jumping pit from which a jump is measured.

Battle Of Bibracte
a famous battle fought in 58 BCE between Julius Caesar's army and the Helvetii; this battle occurred after a series of diplomatic negotiations fell through; lasting 9 hours, this battle took place near a mountain close to the city of Bribacte, which is found near present-day Burgundy in France; the Roman army defeated the Helvetii and slaughtered nearly 65 % of their total population.

Battle Of Mons Graupius
a famous battle fought in 83 CE (or possibly 84 CE) between the Romans and the Caledonians; this battle took place in Caledonia, present-day Scotland; the Romans were greatly outnumbered but still managed to win the battle, demonstrating the power of the Roman military.

Bce
abbreviation for Before the Common Era.

Belatucadrus
a native deity of Roman Britain who was associated with the Roman God Mars and sometimes called 'Mars Belatucadrus'; Belatucadrus was a war god and also perhaps a solar deity; archaeological evidence of his worship still exists in Britain today.

Bellerophon
son of Glaukos and Eurymede; his name means 'killer of Bellerus' who was his brother; Bellerophon is purified by King Proteus for the killing of his brother; after refusing to meet secretly with Stheneboea (King Proteus' wife), Stheneboea claims Bellerophon tried to seduce her; as punishment he is sent to his father-in-law, Iobates, king of Lycia, with a letter that says that Iobates should kill its barer; Iobates, unwilling to kill Bellerophon, sends him to kill the chimera; Bellerophon, riding the winged horse Pegasus, slays the chimera; Bellerophon later in life tries to ride Pegasus up to the realm of Zeus, but Zeus hurdles him back to earth killing him.

Bellerophontes
grandfather of Glaukos (Iliad).

Bellicosus
(Latin) warlike, from the stem word bellum, which means 'war.'

Bellona
a goddess of war; she was usually portrayed with weapons and armor in art; the temple to Bellona in Rome was on the Capitoline Hill and was the site of senate meetings about foreign wars.

Bema
a raised platform or podium from which a speaker might address a court or on which a competitor in a music contest might play.

Beneficium
(Latin) benefit, service, right.

Benignitas
(Latin) kindness; in his Fables, Phaedrus describes a watchdog as being full of benignitas.

Beo
(Latin) to make happy, to bless.

Berenice
the wife of King Ptolemy I of Egypt; she was made queen of Egypt in 290 BCE; she was the mother of Ptolemy II.

Bes
an ancient Egyptian male deity and protector of children, Bes was the god of war and of music and dance; he was thought to be of African or Middle Eastern origins.

Bestia
consul in 111 BCE; he led military forces in Numidia; Jugurtha`s easy agreement with Bestia raised suspicions that bribery had occurred; when Jugurtha came to Rome, he testified in bribery cases and three important generals – and former consuls – were convicted in 110 BCE of having accepted bribes, including Bestia, Albinus and Opimius and sent into exile.

Bestia
(Latin) an animal, one without the skills to reason or think.

Bestiarius
(Latin) literally, 'the hunter of wild beast in an arena'; bestiarii hunted wild animals in an arena in the venatio during the day long gladiatorial games held in Rome.

Bibliotheca
(Latin) Study (as in room in a house); there was a bibliotheca in the Temple of Augustus in Rome which held a large statue of Apollo, according to Pliny the Elder.

Biography
a written account of another person's life.

Boule
Athenian council.

Bouleuterion
council-house.

Brevitas
(Latin) brevity.

Briseis
daughter of Brises, also known as Hippodamia; Achilles' concubine taken by Agamemnon.

Bronze Age
in Classical myth, this is the third of the four ages of man; the Bronze Age lasted from 3000 BCE to 1100 BCE.

Brundisium Agreement
a pact made in 40 BCE among the triumvirate of Octavian, Lepidus, and Mark Antony concerning land; Octavian was put in charge of the West, Antony received the East and Lepidus was given Africa.

Brutum Fulmen
(Latin) literally a insensible thunderbolt, comes to mean an empty threat.

Brutus
Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus; Roman politician and assassin of Julius Caesar; an early supporter of Julius Caesar, Brutus fought on Caesar's side in the naval Battle of Massilia and defeated Pompey's forces in 49 BCE; in 42 BCE, Brutus and Cassius fought the armies of Mark Antony and Octavian at Philippi and lost; he died in 43 BCE while trying to flee to Macedonia.