rammers A rammer is the long staff with a cylindrical head used in loading to press home the charge of a gun.
rate 1. Rate applies to the classification of ships according to size and armament. There were six rates at the time of the narrative: 1st (100+ guns), 2nd (90-98 guns), 3rd (64-80 guns), 4th (50-60 guns), 5th (32-48 guns), and 6th (20-32 guns). Ships of the first three rates were considered powerful enough to fight in a line of battle in a major fleet action. 2. For titles of station aboard a ship, all non-commissioned officers were marked in the ship's muster-book according to skills and duties. The chief grades in the Royal Navy were seaman, petty officers, and landsmen. 3. The term also applies to the classification of ships according to size and armament.
rattan 1. Any of various climbing palms of the genera Calamus, Daemonorops, or Plectomia of tropical Asia, having long, tough, slender stems. 2. a. The stems of any of these palms, used to make wickerwork, canes, and furniture. b. Work made of the stems of these palms. 3. A switch or cane made from these palms.
recondite 1. Not easily understood; abstruse. 2. Concerned with or treating something abstruse or obscure: recondite scholarship. 3. Concealed; hidden.
rectitude 1. Moral uprightness; righteousness. 2. The quality or condition of being correct in judgment. 3. The quality of being straight.
reef, furl These are the verbs which describe the management of the sails. To reef is to reduce the amount of exposed sail by rolling up a part and securing it with the reef points. To furl a sail is to roll up and bind a sail neatly upon the yard or boom.
Republic, the After the overthrow of the monarchy, the Roman Republic was established in 509 B.C. The city state soon developed a (semi)democratic system of government based in representative rule. By 82 B.C., however, Lucius Sulla emerged as dictator who ruled in conjunction with the Senate. In the following years of Roman expansionism, several generals rose in prominence, most notably Julius Caesar. By 44 B.C. he had become sole ruler of Rome, but was murdered by a group of conspirators who hoped to revive the old Roman Republic. Following the murder, continued civil war brought Octavius, Julius Caesar's adopted son and heir, to power. His crowning as Emperor Augustus marked the beginning of the "Rome of the Caesars" and a 200-year stretch of the Pax Romana, or Roman period of peace.
restiveness, restive 1. Impatient under restriction, opposition, criticism, or delay. 2. Resisting control; difficult to control. 3. Refusing to move. Used of a horse or other animal.
rigor 1. Strictness or severity, as in temperament, action, or judgment. 2. A harsh or trying circumstance; hardship. 3. A harsh or cruel act.
romance Though the term romance as applied to literature has shifted over the years, Melville here insists that this story bears none of fantastic or supernatural elements of the novelistic romance. On the other hand, Melville was certainly aware that he uses in Billy Budd some of the elements central to the romance.