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An epithet is linked to its noun by long-established usage. Not every adjective is an epithet. An epithet is especially recognizable when its function is largely decorative, such as if “cloud-gathering Zeus” is employed other than in reference to conjuring up a storm. The epithets are decorative insofar as they are neither essential to the immediate context nor modeled especially for it.
The same epithet can be used repeatedly joined to different names, e. Homer’s familiar epithet “the wine-dark sea”. The phrase “Discreet Telemachus” is also considered an epithet. Epithets were in layman’s terms glorified nicknames that could be used to represent one’s style, artistic nature, or even geographical reference.