Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 02 February 2023

epithets, divine, Greeklocked

epithets, divine, Greeklocked

  • Herbert Jennings Rose
  •  and Simon Hornblower


In considering the very numerous surnames or epithets of gods it is necessary first to distinguish between those appearing only as literary (especially epic) ornaments and those known to have been used in cult. Thus we have no proof that *Athena was ever addressed in ritual as γλαυκῶπις (‘grey-eyed’); it is her stock epithet in *Homer, *Zeus' pet-name for her (Il. 8. 373). It seems unlikely that *Ares was prayed to as βροτολοιγός (‘ruinous to mortals’); he is so addressed by Athena (Il. 5. 31), which is a very different thing, and it is his stock epithet (as ibid. 846). But there are many borderline cases, hard to decide. We have no instance of *Athena being called Pallas in cult, yet it is not easy to suppose that so familiar a name was never used for her by worshippers; Zeus' stock epithet, ‘cloud-gatherer’, appears in the vocative, νεφεληγερέτα, in epic in many places where it is syntactically a nominative, strongly suggesting that its form had become fixed by some ancient liturgical phrase, which, however, is quite lost to us.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription