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64 terms

AP Literature Myth Allusions

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Achilles' heel
today, one spot that is most vulnerable; one weakness a person may have
Adonis
handsome young man; Aphrodite loved him
Acolian
anything pertaining to wind; god who was Keeper of Wind
Apollo
a physically perfect male; the God of music and light; known for his physical beauty
Argus
omniscient, all seeing; from Argus, the 100-eyed monster that Hera had guarding Io
Athena/Minerva
goddess of wisdom, the city, and arts; patron goddess of the city of Athens
Atlantean
strong like Atlas - who carried the globe (world) on his shoulders
Aurora
early morning or sunrise; from the Roman personification of Dawn or Eos
Bacchanal
wild, drunken party or rowdy celebration; from god of wine Bacchus; adjective - pertaining to a wild, drunken party or celebration from god of wine, Bacchus/Dionysus
Calliope
series of whistles - circus organ; from the Muse of eloquence or beautiful voice
Cassandra
a person who continually predicts misfortune but often is not believed; from a daughter of Priam cursed by Apollo for not returning his love; he left her with the gift of prophecy but made it so no one would believe her
Centaur
a monster that had the head, arms and chest of a man, and the body and legs of a horse
Chimera
a horrible crature of the imagination, an absurd or impossible idea; wild fancy; a monster with a lion's head a goat's body, and a serpent's tail, supposed to breathe fire
Cupidity
eager "desire" to possess something; greed or avarice; Roman god of love (Greek name is Eros)
Erotic
of or having to do with sexual passion or love; Greek god of love - Eros
Furor
wild enthusiasm or excitement, rage; fury, "run like fury"; any one of the three Furies
Gorgon
a very ugly or terrible person, especially a repulsive woman; Medusa, any one of three sisters have snakes for hair and faces so horrible that anyone who looked at them turned to stone
Halcyon
calm, peaceful, tranquil - Archaic bird supposed to breed in a nest on the sea and calm the water
Harpy
a predatory person or nagging woman; from harpy, a foul creature that was part woman, part bird
Hector
to bully; from Hector, the son of Priam (king of Troy) and the bravest Trojan warrior
Helen
of or relating to Greece, or a Specialist of language or culture in Greece; symbol of a beautiful woman; from Helen of Troy, the daughter of Leda and Zeus - the cause of the Trojan War
Herculean
very strong or extraordinary power; from Hercules; the son of Zeus; he performed the 23 labors imposed by Hera
Hydra-Headed
having many centers or branches; hard to bring under control; something bad you cannot eradicate; from Hydra, the 9-headed serpent that was sacred to Hera; Hercules killed him in one of the 12 labors
Iridescent
a play of colors producing rainbow effects; from Iris, goddess of the rainbow
Jovial
good humored; from the word Jove, used to express surprise or agreement (Jupiter)
Junoesque
marked by stately beauty; comes from the word Juno, the wife of Jupiter, the Goddess of light, birth, women, and marriage
Lethargy
abnormal drowsiness or inertia; from the word Lethe, a river in Hades that caused drinkers to forget their past
Martial
suited for war or a warrior; from Mars, the Roman God of War
Medea
sorceress or enchantress; from Medea who helped Jason and the Argonauts capture the Golden Fleece; known for her revenge against Jason when he spurned her for the princess of Corinth
Mentor
a trusted counselor or guide; from Mentor, a friend of Odysseus' son, who was entrusted with his education
Mercurial
suddenly cranky or changeable; Roman Mythology, of or relating to the god Mercury
Mercury/Hermes
a carrier or tidings, a newsboy, a messenger; messenger of the gods, conductor of souls to the lower world, and god of eloquence; the fabled inventory, wore winged hat and sandals
Mnemonics
a device used to aid memory; the personification of memory, Mnemosyne, who gave birth to the nine Muses, who supposedly gave good memory in story telling
Morphine
a bitter white, crystalline alkaloid used to relieve pain and induce sleep; Morpheus was a god that could easily change form or shape
Muse
some creature of inspiration; the daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, divine singers that presided over thought in all its forms
Narcissism
being in love with our own self image; named for Narcissus, a handsome young man who despised love. Echo, a nymph who was in love with him, was rejected and decreed, "Let he who loves not others, love himself." Hearing this, he fell in love with his image, while gazing in a pond, and drowned himself trying to capture it
Nemesis
just punishment, one who inflicts due punishment; goddess who punishes crime; but more often she is the power charged with curbing all excess, such as excessive good fortune or arrogant pride
Neptune
he sea personified; the Roman god associated with Poseidon, god of the water and oceans
Niobe
mournful woman; from Niobe, whose children were slain by Apollo and Artemis because of her bragging; the gods pitied her and turned her into a rock that was always wet from weeping
Odyssey
a long journey; named for Odysseus, the character in The Odyssey, by Homer; Odysseus makes his long journey back from the Trojan War, encountering several obstacles along the way
Olympian
majestic in manner, superior to mundane affairs, any participant in the ancient or modern Olympic games, named after 12 gods that were supposed to reside on Mt. Olympus
Paean
a song of joy; a ritual epithet of Apollo the healer; in Homeric poems, an independent god of healing named Paean, who took care of Hades when the latter was wounded
Pandora's Box
something that opens the door for bad occurrences, opened by someone known for curiosity; named for Pandora who was the first mortal, sent by Zeus, to punish man for Prometheus' theft of fire. For her curiosity in opening the box, Zeus gave her all human ills in the world, leaving only hope at the bottom
Parnassus
mountain was sacred to arts and literature; any center of poetic or artistic activity; poetry or poets collectively, a common title for selection of poetry; named after the hero of Mt. Parnassus, the son of Poseidon and a Nymph. He founded the oracle of Python, which was later occupied by Apollo
Pegasus
poetic inspiration; named after a winged horse which sprang from the blood of Medusa at her death; a stamp of his hoof caused Hippocrene, the fountain of the Muses, to issue poetic inspiration from Mount Helicon
Phoenix
a symbol of immortality or rebirth; named after the Egyptian Mythology phoenix, a long bird which lived in the Arabian desert and then consumed itself in fire, rising renewed from the flame to start another long life
Plutocracy
government by the wealthy; named after Pluto, the "Rich Man". He was originally the god of the fields because the ground was the source of all wealth ores, and jewels
Promethean
life-bringing, creative, or courageously original; named after a Titan who brought man the use of fire which he had stolen from heaven for their benefit
Protean
taking many forms, versatile, named after Proteus, a god of the sea, charged with tending the flocks of the sea creatures belonging to Poseidon. He had the ability to change himself into whatever form he desired, using this power particularly when he wanted to elude those asking him questions
Psyche
the human soul, self, the mind; named after Psyche, a maiden who, after undergoing many hardships due to Aphrodite's jealousy, reunited with Cupid and was made immortal by Jupiter; she personifies the soul joined to the heart of love
Pygmalion
someone (usually male) who tries to fashion someone into the person he desires; from a myth adapted into a play by George Bernard Shaw; a woman-hating sculptor who makes a female figure of ivory whom Aphrodite brings to life for him
Pyrrhic victory
a too costly victory; from Pyrrhus, a Greek king who defeated the Romans in 279 BC, but suffered extremely heavy losses in the fight
Saturnalia
a period of unrestrained revelry; named after the ancient Roman festival of Saturn, with general feasting in revelry in honor of the winter solstice
Saturnine
sluggish, gloomy, morose, inactive in winter months; named after the god Saturn, often associated with the god of the Underworld
Sibyl
a witch or sorceress; a priestess who made known the oracles of Apollo and possessed the gift of prophecy
Sisyphean
greedy and avaricious; from the shrewd and greedy king of Corinth, Sisyphus, who was doomed forever in Hades to roll uphill a heavy stone, which always rolled down again
Stentorian
having a loud voice; after Stentor, a character in the Iliad who could shout as loudly as 50 men; he engaged in a shouting match against Hermes and was put to death after losing
Stygian
dark and gloomy; named after the river Styx, a river in the Underworld; the water is poisonous for humans and cattle and said to break iron, metal, and pottery; though it is said a horse's hoof is unharmed by it
Tantalize
from King Tantalus, who reigned on Mt. Sipylus and was condemned to reside in a beautiful river with sumptuous fruits just out of reach and the water undrinkable, always tempting him as punishment for excessive pride (he boiled his son and fed the broth to trick the gods)
Terpsichorean
pertaining to dance; for Terpsichore, one of the nine muses, sometimes said to be the mother of the sirens and the protector of dance
Titanic
large, grand, enormous; after Tityus, a giant, the son of Zeus and Elara; his body covers over two acres. Or after the Titans, the offspring of Chronus and Rhea, who went to war against Zeus and the other Olympian gods
Volcanoes
originated from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, whose forge is said to be under mountains
Vulcanize
to treat rubber with sulfur to increase strength and elasticity; from the Roman God of Metallurgy, Vulcan/Hephaestus
Zeus
a powerful man; king of the gods, ruler of Mt. Olympus, vengeful hurler of thunderbolts