William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book IV

IV.39 minstrelsy: A group or gathering of minstrels; musicians or singers collectively; here, the music of such a group.

IV.40 doubtful: to be dreaded or feared; uncertain

IV.41 bight: A bend or curve as a geographical feature, e.g. an indentation in a coastline, a corner or recess of a bay, a bend in a river, etc. Also, an indentation or bay in a mass of ice.

IV.45 bossy: having bosses or prominences; a raised area used in ornamentation

IV.56 hawser: a large rope or small cable, in size midway between a cable and a tow-line, between 5 and 10 inches in circumference; used in warping and mooring; in large ships now made of steel

IV.60 hecacomb: A great public sacrifice (properly of a hundred oxen) among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and hence extended to the religious sacrifices of other nations; a large number of animals offered or set apart for a sacrifice.

IV.103 great Oeager’s son: i.e. Orpheus

IV.111 wasters: one who lays waste, despoils or plunders; a devastator, ravager, plunderer

IV.127 beechen bowl: a bowl made of beechwood

IV.142 niggard: mean or grudging

IV.158 clangorous: noisy

IV.178 Pandora: According to the poet Hesiod, the first woman. She was made with clay by Vulcan at the request of Jupiter, who wished to punish the impiety and artifice of Prometheus. After the artist had completed his work of forming woman from clay, all the gods vied in making her presents. Venus gave her beauty and the art of pleasing; the Graces gave her the knowledge of singing; Mercury instructed her in eloquence; Minerva gave her rich and splendid ornaments. From all these divine presents, the woman was called Pandora, which intimates that she had received every necessary gift. Jupiter after this gave her a beautiful box, which she was ordered to present to the man who married her; and by the commission of the god, Mercury conducted her to Prometheus's brother Epimitheus, who married her.

When he opened the box which she presented to him, it spewed out a multitude of evils and distempers, which dispersed all over the world and since then never ceased to afflict the human race. Hope was the only quality which remained at the bottom of the box, and it is she alone who has the wonderful power of easing human labours and of rendering troubles and sorrows less painful. This misogynist legend parallels the account of the effects of Eve’s transgression in the book of Genesis.

IV.178-79 the strife: The contest between Athena and Neptune to decide which of them should become the divine patron of Athens. Neptune created a salt spring or a horse; Athena won by producing the olive tree.

IV.179 Pallas: Pallas Athena was an alternate name for Athena, derived from Greek legends in which she killed in battle the giant Pallas, assuming his name. In Greek mythology, Athena was the wise companion of heroes and patron of heroic endeavor. Her cult seems to have existed from very early times as the patron of Athens, and she was variously associated with wisdom, philosophy, weaving and other crafts, the crafting of weapons, and military strategy. In iconography she often wears a breastplate and helmet, is attended by an owl, and often by Nike, the winged goddess of victory, who is placed on her extended hand.

As an armed warrior goddess, Athena appears in Greek mythology as a helper of many heroes, including Odysseus and Heracles. Her legends include her birth from the forehead of Zeus, born after he swallowed her pregnant mother Metis to evade a prophecy that any offspring of his union with Metis would exceed him in power. As the female offspring of Zeus, Athena shared with him control of the thunderbolt and the Aegis.

IV.179 the Shaker of the Earth: In Greek mythology, Poseidon, god of the sea and source of earthquakes.

IV.180 the theft of Bacchus: Possibly Jupiter's rescue of the child Bacchus (Dionysus) from Semele's body after her incineration by his divine splendour, or the kidnapping by pirates of the young Bacchus, as described in Homeric Hymn VII.

IV.181 Natheless: nevertheless

IV.205 the land of Lemnos: An island in the Aegean sea, between Tenedos, Imbros, and Samothrace. It was sacred to Vulcan, called Lemnius pater, who according to mythology fell there when pushed down from heaven by Jupiter. See Map 1, H2.

It was notorious for two horrible massacres; in one, the Lemnian women murdered their husbands, and in the second, the Lemnians, or Pelasgi, killed all their children by a group of Athenian women, whom they had abducted. These two acts of cruelty have given rise to the proverb of Lemnian actions, applied to barbarious and inhuman deeds. The first "Lemnian action" is narrated by the rescued man.

IV.215 tost: tossed

IV.218 sore: intensely; with much suffering

IV.252 doubt: fear, apprehend

IV.294 tore along: to move with violence or impetuosity; to rush or ‘burst’ impetuously or violently

IV.301 kirtles: a woman's gown, skirt, or outer petticoat

IV.332 whiles: sometimes

IV.344 by my head: [I promise you, swearing] by my head.

IV.366 the Mysian land: Mysia was a region in the extreme northwest of Asia minor, bounded on the north by the Propontis, to the west by the Aegean Sea, to the south by Lydia and to the east by Phrygia. See Map 1, K2.

According to Homer, the Mysians fought on the side of Troy in the Trojan War. Herodotus (Bk. IV, Ch. 20) reports that before the war the Mysians and Teucrians invaded "all of Thrace" and a part of Greece.

IV.421 bane: that which causes death; harmful element

IV.447 erewhile: a while before

IV.461 nay: refuse

IV.488 there-between: between that place

IV.530 nowise meet / For deeds of love: by no means fit for deeds of love

IV.543 for a space: for a while

IV.666 run-out: extended