Names in the Soldier books

In the Soldier books, Wolfe refers to many historical / mythical persons, places and things by names not familiar to the modern ear. They're a mix of literal translations, allusions, and unfamiliar ancient names.

This is an attempt to provide a key to some of them. (Several of the below are already glossed in the book itself, but they're included here for completeness's sake.)

See also this interesting essay about the derivation of the place names, by Scott Wowra.

Used in Soldier of the Mist:

  • Advent = Eleusis (centre of the Demeter cult)
  • Aram = Syria?
  • Bearland = Arcadia (interior of Peloponnese)
  • Boat = Lemnos?
  • Circling Isles = Cyclades
  • Clay = Plataea (conclusive land battle of the Persian Wars, 479 BCE)
  • Cowland = Boeotia (area ruled by Thebes)
  • Crimson Country = Phoenicia
  • Crimson Men = Phoenicians/Canaanites
  • Descender = Zeus (king of the gods)
  • Destroyer = Apollo
  • Dog's Tail = Kynosoura (landmark of the battle of Salamis)
  • Dolphins = Delphi (home of one of Apollo's oracles)
  • Earth Shaker = Poseidon (god of the sea)
  • Euxine = the Black Sea
  • Fennel Field = Marathon (defeat of first Persian invasion force, 490 BCE)
  • Fingers = Dactyls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dactyls)
  • First Sea = Sea of Marmara (links Aegean to Black Sea)
  • God in the Tree = Dionysus
  • Goodcattle Island = Euboea (large island near Athens)
  • Grain Goddess = Ceres
  • Great Mother = Gaea / Demeter / Cybele (Wolfe treats these as different names for the same underlying goddess)
  • Gulf = Gulf of Corinth (almost cuts Peloponnese off from mainland)
  • Hellas = Greece
  • Helle's Sea = the Hellespont / Dardanelles (links Aegean to Sea of Marmara)
  • Hellenes = Greeks
  • Hill = Thebes (Athens's chief rival for dominance of northern Greece)
  • Horseland = Thessaly
  • Hot Gates / Gates to the Hot Springs = Thermopylae (defeat of Spartans under Leonidas in rearguard action, 480 BCE)
  • Hundred-Eyed = Argos (neutral city of the Peloponnese)
  • Huntress = Artemis (goddess of hunting)
  • Island Sea = Caspian Sea?
  • Ister = Danube
  • Khsharyarsha = Xerxes, the Great King
  • Kid = Dionysus (god of wine)
  • King from Nysa = Dionysus (god of wine)
  • King of Nysa = Silenus (drunken satyr, teacher of Dionysus)
  • Kore = Persephone (Demeter's daughter, queen of the dead)
  • Lady of Cymbals = Phrygian name for Cybele
  • Long Coast = Attica (peninsula on which Athens stands)
  • Maiden = Persephone (Demeter's daughter, queen of the dead)
  • Navel of the world = Oracle of Delphi
  • Nysa = Ethiopia (mythical home of Dionysus)
  • Parsa = Persia
  • Peace = Salamis (important naval battle of Persian Wars, 480 BCE)
  • People from Parsa = Persians
  • Redface Island = the Peloponnese (the southern projection of Greece, not actually quite an island)
  • Riverland = Egypt
  • Rope = Sparta (most important city of the Peloponnese)
  • Rope Makers = Spartans
    • Wolfe as "translator" explains in the introduction that Latro's names for Sparta and the Spartans reflects a common mistake made by uneducated speakers of the time, and has to do with the the Greek word for rope or chord, σπαρτον, or "sparton."
  • Sacred Way = the route from Athens to Eleusis
  • Shining God = Apollo (god of the sun)
  • Silent Country = Laconia (area ruled by Sparta)
  • Teleia = Hera
  • Thought = Athens (most important city of northern Greece)
  • Tieup = Piraeus (the port of Athens)
  • Tower Hill = Corinth (wealthy city that controlled the isthmus between northern Greece and the Peloponnese)
  • Victory = Nike
  • Water = Aegean Sea
  • War God = Ares
  • Wolf-Killer = Apollo

Introduced in Soldier of Arete:

  • All = Pan
  • Cynthia = Artemis
  • Goat man = Pan
  • Ilion = Troy
  • Isle of Roses = Rhodes
  • Kemet = Egypt
  • Swollenfoot = Oedipus (ancient king of Thebes)