An epithet (Greek — ἐπίθετον and Latin — epitheton; literally meaning 'imposed') is a descriptive word or phrase that has become a fixed formula. It has various shades of meaning when applied to real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and biological nomenclature.
In linguistics, an epithet is often metaphoric, essentially a reduced or condensed appositive. Linguistics is the scientific study of Language, encompassing a number of sub-fields Metaphor (from the Greek: μεταφορά - metaphora, meaning "transfer" is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects Apposition is a grammatical construction in which two elements normally Noun phrases are placed side by side with one element serving to define or modify the other Epithets are sometimes attached to a person's name or appear in place of their name, as what might be described as a glorified nickname. An epithet is linked to its noun by long-established usage and some are not otherwise employed. Not every adjective is an epithet, even worn clichés: an epithet is especially recognizable when its function is largely decorative, as when "cloud-gathering Zeus" is otherwise employed than in conjuring up a storm. A cliché (from French, klɪ'ʃe or cliche is a phrase expression or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its intended force "The epithets are decorative insofar as they are neither essential to the immediate context nor modelled especially for it. Among other things, they are extremely helpful to fill out a half-verse", Walter Burkert has noted. Walter Burkert (born Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, February 2, 1931) a scholar of Greek mythology and cult, is an emeritus 
Some epithets are known by the Latin term epitheton necessarium because they are required to distinguish the bearers, e. g. as an alternative to ordinals after a prince's name — such as Richard the Lionheart, or Charles the Fat alongside Charles the Bald. Richard I (8 September 1157 &ndash 6 April 1199 was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death Charles the Fat (Carolus Pinguis 13 June 839 – 13 January 888) was the King of Alemannia from 876 King of Italy from Charles the Bald ( 13 June 823 – 6 October 877) Holy Roman Emperor (875–877 as Charles II) and King of West Francia Still the same epithet can be used repeatedly, in different spheres of life and/or joined to different names, say Alexander the Great as well as Catherine the Great. Alexander the Great ( or, Mégas Aléxandros; July 20 356 BC June 10 or June 11 323 BC also known as Alexander III of Macedon (el Ἀλέξανδρος Γ' Catherine II, called Catherine the Great (Екатерина II Великая Yekaterina II Velikaya;) reigned as Empress of Russia for 34 years
Other epithets can easily be omitted without serious risk of confusion, and are therefore known (again in Latin) as epitheton ornans; thus the classical Roman author Virgil systematically called the armsbearer of Aeneas, his main hero, fidus Achates, the epithet being fidus, which means faithful or loyal.
In contemporary usage, epithet is also used to refer to an abusive or defamatory phrase, such as a racial epithet. The following is a list of ethnic slurs that are or have been used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given Ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical
There are also specific types of epithets, such as the kenning which appears in works such as Beowulf. A kenning ( Old Norse kenning, Modern Icelandic pronunciation) is a Circumlocution used instead of an ordinary Noun in Old Norse Beowulf is an Old English Heroic epic poem of anonymous authorship dating as recorded in the Nowell Codex manuscript from between An example of a kenning would be the term whale-road, meaning "sea". A kenning ( Old Norse kenning, Modern Icelandic pronunciation) is a Circumlocution used instead of an ordinary Noun in Old Norse
Epithets are characteristic of the style of ancient epic poetry, notably in that of Homer or the northern European sagas. An epic is a lengthy Narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation Homer ( Ancient Greek:, Homēros) is a legendary ancient Greek epic Poet, traditionally said to be the author of the epic poems the See above, as well as epithets in Homer. A characteristic of Homer 's style is the use of recurring Epithets as in "rosy-fingered dawn" or "swift-footed Achilles When James Joyce uses the phrase "the snot-green sea" he is playing on Homer's familiar epithet "the wine-dark sea". James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 &ndash 13 January 1941 was an Irish expatriate writer widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the Also the phrase "Discreet Telemachus" is considered an epithet.
In many polytheistic religions, such as in ancient Greek and Roman religions, a deity's epithets, easily multiplied in the practice of cultus generally reflected a particular aspect of that god's essence and role, for which their influence may be obtained for a specific occasion: Apollo Musagetes is "Apollo, [as] leader of the Muses" and therefore patron of the arts and sciences while Phoibos Apollo is the same deity, but as shining sun-god. Polytheism is belief in or worship of multiple Gods (usually assembled in a pantheon) together with associated Mythology and Rituals This article discusses cult in the original and typically ancient sense of "religious practice" (cultus In Greek mythology, the Muses ( Ancient Greek, hai moũsai: perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European root * men- "think" are "Athena protects the city as polias, oversees handicrafts as ergane, joins battle as promachos and grants victory as nike. The Athena Promachos (Ἀθηνᾶ Πρόμαχος "Athena who fights in the front line" was "
Alternatively the epithet may identify a particular and localized aspect of the god, sometimes already ancient during the classical epochs of Greece or Rome, such as a reference to the mythological place of birth or numinous presence at a specific sanctuary: sacrifice might be offered on one and the same occasion to Pythian Apollo (Apollo Pythios) and Delphic Apollo (Apollo Delios). Numen ("presence" plural numina) is a Latin term for the power of either a deity or a spirit that is present in places and objects in the A localizing epithet refers simply to a particular center of veneration and the cultic tradition there, as the god manifested at a particular festival, for example: Zeus Olympios, Zeus as present at Olympia, or Apollo Karneios, Apollo at the Spartan Carneian festival. The Carneian festival (Κάρνεια was one of the most important religious festivals in ancient Sparta and other Dorian cities held in honor of Apollo
Often the epithet is the result of fusion of the Olympian divinity with an older one: Poseidon Erechtheus, Artemis Orthia, reflect intercultural equations of a divinity with an older one, that is generally considered its pendant; thus most Roman gods and goddesses, especially the Twelve Olympians, had traditional counterparts in Greek, Etruscan, and most other Mediterranean pantheons, e. In Greek mythology, Erectheus was an early king of Athens. Early writers often identified him with either Erichthonius, who later became known as his grandfather The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, an Archaic site devoted in Classical times to Artemis, was one of the most important religious sites in the Greek The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon ( Greek: Δωδεκάθεον g. Jupiter as head of the Olympian Gods with Zeus, but in specific cult places there may even be a different equation, based on one specific aspect of the divinity. In Roman mythology, Jupiter was the king of the gods and the god of Sky and Thunder. Zeus (zjuːs in Greek: nominative: Zeús /zdeús/ genitive: Diós; Modern Greek /'zefs/ in Greek mythology Thus the Greek word Trismegistos "thrice grand" was first used as a Greek name for the Egyptian god of science and invention, Thot, and later as an epitheton for the Greek Hermes and, finally, the fully equated Roman Mercurius (Mercury; both were also messenger of the gods). For other meanings of "Thoth" or of "Djehuti" and similar see Thoth (disambiguation. Hermes ( Greek,, ˈhɝmiːz in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them of Shepherds and "Alipes" redirects here For the Centipede Genus, see Alipes (centipede. Among the Greeks, T. H. Price notesthe nurturing power of Kourotrophos might be invoked in sacrifices and recorded in inscription, without specifically identifying Hera or Demeter. In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hera (ˈhɪərə or /ˈhɛrə/ Greek) or Here ( in Ionic and Homer Demeter (dɨˈmiːtɚ Greek:, possibly "distribution-mother" from the noun of the Indo-European mother-earth * dheghom * mater
Some epithets were applied to several deities of a same pantheon, rather accidentally if they had a common characteristic, or deliberately emphasizing their blood- or other ties; thus in pagan Rome, several divinities (including demi-gods, heroes) were given the epitheton Comes as companion of another (usually major) divinity. The French Solar Energy Authority ( Commissariat à l'Energie Solaire, ComES) a public Scientific and industrial entity was set up in An epithet can even be meant for collective use, e. g. in Latin pilleati 'the felt hat-wearers' for the brothers Castor and Pollux. For the stars see Castor (star and Pollux (star, for the sculptural group in the Prado Museum, see Castor and Pollux (Prado, and for Some epithets resist explanation. 
Similar practices still exist in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in the veneration of Christ and, mainly, of the saints. "Our Lady of Lourdes" is essentially periphrasis, unless some aspect of the Virgin were being invoked. The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes began on 11 February 1858 when Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes admitted when questioned In Linguistics, periphrasis is a device by which a grammatical category or relationship is expressed by a Free morpheme (typically one or more Function
In historical, journalistic, and other writings, one often encounters epitheta, but it is worthwhile distinguishing different types. While the same rationale as in the genealogical section above may apply, in some cases posthumously politicians, unlike ordinary citizens, often have some control over public opinion and generally more of an interest in their image, so whether forged for themselves or contrived by opponents, their epitheta often carry a political message.
Indeed while these differ from official titles as they don't express any legal status, epitheta have been awarded and adopted (though the official procedure may provide for the formal decision to be issued by another institution, such as a legislative assembly) by statesmen in power for fairly formal use, not unsimilar in purpose to various sinecures, knighthoods or peerage-type titles in post-feudal societies: they confer prestige without any legal authority, so essentially a matter of image or even propaganda, aimed at a domestic and/or foreign target audience. Examples of such epithets are the various traditions of victory titles (see there) awarded to meritous generals and rulers since Antiquity, and the epithets awarded to entire units, e. A victory title is an honorific title adopted by a successful military commander to commemorate his defeat of an enemy nation g. such adjectives as 'Fidelis' 'loyal' to various Roman legions.
In casual usage, epithet also means a derogatory word or phrase used to insult someone although this euphemistic use is discredited by Martin Manser and other prescriptive linguists.