gangway On deep waisted ships like the seventy-four, a narrow platform extending from the quarter-deck to the forecastle.
gelid Very cold; icy: gelid ocean waters.
genus homo Broadly, a genus is any group of similar things; homo derives from the Latin for "man." In this case, then, genus homo refers to Billy as being an exemplar of "one belonging to the group of man."
German wars, the This is probably a reference to the Thirty-Years' War (1618-1648), a series of political and religious wars that eventually involved most of the European countries. It began as a conflict in Germany between Catholics and Protestants during the 16th century, but grew and spread as it became more of a political struggle between certain princes and the Holy Roman Emperor. It ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia.
Germanicus In 54 B.C., Julius Caesar invaded England with a small force, defeated some of the indigenous Celts, and then left. Although the Romans did not actually control England completely until Claudius ordered the Romans to invade England again in 43 A.D., Germanicus Caesar (15 B.C.-19 A.D.), a general and conqueror, did win some significant victories over the British. Less than four decades later, Rome controlled nearly all of Great Britain, a rule that lasted until around 400 A.D.
Girard, Stephen Girard (1750-1831) was a French-born American businessman and philanthropist who helped finance the United States during War of 1812 and who played a key role in the founding of the Second Bank of the United States. As Melville points out, Girard was an admirer of the French liberal thinkers like Voltaire and Diderot.
Graces, the Also called the Charites, the Graces were the personification of grace and beauty. They are generally depicted as three sisters who influence artistic and imaginative works. Billy is said to be favored by them once again raising his stature to near-supernatural levels.
grades Although in some ways synonymous with ranks, there is a fine distinction between rank and grade when used by members of the military or navy. In this usage, the former term distinguishes the relative authority between individuals of the same grade. That is to say, while there may be many of the same grade, there can only be one of a certain rank.
gravel 1. To apply a surface of rock fragments or pebbles to. 2. To confuse; perplex. 3. Informal. To irritate.
Great Mutiny, the See Nore.
Greenwich Seaport in Massachusetts, near Salem.
gun decks (upper and lower)The gun decks extend below the spar-deck where the guns are carried.