apocalypse In general terms, the apocalypse is the catastrophic end of the world foretold both in the Old and New Testaments (see Revelation 6-22).
Apollo An Olympian god who is the son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother of Artemis. Generally, he is depicted as having great stature and outstanding beauty, especially distinguished by his long, curly, black hair. Most importantly, Apollo is the God of Light, in whom there can be no darkness, and the God of Truth, who can utter no lies. The reference here serves to raise Billy's stature and inherent purity to Olympic proportions.
apothecary Appointed by the surgeon of the cruise, he is the chief assistant to the medical officer.
aridity, arid 1. Lacking moisture, especially having insufficient rainfall to support trees or woody plants: an arid climate. 2. Lacking interest or feeling; lifeless and dull: a technically perfect but arid musical performance.
armorer The petty officer in charge of keeping the small-arms in condition for service.
Articles of War The Articles were Royal Navy regulations--a varied collection of rules dealing mainly with the misconduct of both officers and seamen. They covered a broad range of issues: pay and wages, mutiny, spying, and insubordination. Under Article 4, Billy had to convey any information concerning an enemy or would-be mutineer to a superior officer within twelve hours of being able to do so. But Captain Vere is more concerned with a couple other regulations: Article 22 (which forbids any quarreling with, striking, drawing a sword on, or offering to draw swords with a superior officer) and Article 28 (which orders death as punishment for anyone convicted of murder).
ascetic A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion. 1. Leading a life of self-discipline and self-denial, especially for spiritual improvement. 2. Pertaining to or characteristic of an ascetic; self-denying and austere: an ascetic existence.
athwart 1. From side to side; crosswise or transversely. 2. So as to thwart, obstruct, or oppose; perversely. 1. From one side to the other of; across: "the Stars that shoot athwart the Night" (Alexander Pope). 2. Contrary to; against. 3. Nautical. Across the course, line, or length of.
augury 1. The art, ability, or practice of auguring; divination. 2. A sign of something coming; an omen.
austerity, austere 1. Severe or stern in disposition or appearance; somber and grave: the austere figure of a Puritan minister. 2. Strict or severe in discipline; ascetic: a desert nomad's austere life. 3. Having no adornment or ornamentation; bare: an austere style.