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Billy Budd, Sailor
Herman Melville

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Adamastor, "Camões' ‘Spirit of the Cape’" Adamastor is a mythological giant from the epic poem the Lusiads (published 1570) by Portuguese poet Luíz Vaz de Camões. The work recalls the glories of the Portuguese over the enemies of Christianity, focusing especially on the triumphs of explorer Vasco da Gama. Called “Spirit of the Cape,” Adamastor threatens (but fails) to destroy da Gama's fleet as it rounds the Cape of Good Hope.

admiral The highest naval officer of flag-rank who commands one of the principal divisions of the fleet. Depending on which division he commands (van or fore, middle, or rear), the admiralty is divided into positions of Admiral, Vice-Admiral, and Rear-Admiral.

adulterate To make impure by adding extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients, especially by way of fraudulently increasing weight or quantity: adulterate coffee with ground acorns; silver debased with copper; doctored the wine with water, etc.

afterguard, afterguardsmen The afterguardsmen are those stationed on the quarter-deck and poop in order to man the gear.

Agamemnon In the Greek tradition, he was the commander of the Achaen forces during the war at Troy. Upon his return from Troy, he was killed by his wife's (Clytemnestra) lover, Aegisthus. Eventually his death was avenged by his son, Orestes. Melville also refers to the ship Agamemnon. Beginning with his ascendance to captaincy of it in 1793, Admiral Nelson, England's great sea commander, began seven years of nearly continual warfare at sea. It was during this time that he was wounded at Calvi, on the Corsican coast, and lost sight in his right eye. For the Old Dansker to have served aboard this ship -- to have been injured like Nelson -- is indeed a high honor.

Alexander the Great and Bucephalus  Alexander (356-323 BC), a Macedonian King and conqueror of the Persian Empire, established an empire of his own that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to India. Purported to be a descendant of Hercules on his father's side and Achilles on his mother's side, Alexander's feats often took on epic proportions. One of the earliest legends about Alexander involved his taming of the great horse, Buchephalus, the steed that carried him all the way to India before it died.

ambidexter 1. The state or quality of being ambidextrous. 2. Deceit or hypocrisy.

Ananias Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold their land but instead of giving all their profit to the apostles, as agreed, withheld some part of the price. Peter revealed the lie and said, "Ananias . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Upon hearing these words, Ananias "fell down, and gave up the ghost." Thus, in the biblical tradition, Ananias became the archetypal liar. It is important to note that the established parallel between Claggart and Ananias elevates his violation (see Bible, Book of Acts 5).

annals 1. A chronological record of the events of successive years. 2. A descriptive account or record; a history: "the short and simple annals of the poor" (Thomas Gray).
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