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See also: ægis



A tondo with a Roman mosaic from the 3rd century C.E. depicting Minerva and her aegis (sense 1), in the pavement of the Sala a Croce Greca in the Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Borrowed from Latin aegis, from Ancient Greek αἰγίς (aigís, goatskin; shield of Athena), probably from αἴξ (aíx, goat), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eyǵ- (goat).

The plural form aegides (IPA(key): /ˈiːd͡ʒɪdiːz/) is borrowed from Latin aegides, from Ancient Greek αἰγῐ́δες (aigídes).



aegis (plural aegises or aegides)

  1. (Greek mythology, Roman mythology) A mythological shield associated with the Greek deities Zeus and Athena (and their Roman counterparts Jupiter and Minerva) shown as a short cloak made of goatskin worn on the shoulders, more as an emblem of power and protection than a military shield. The aegis of Athena or Minerva is usually shown with a border of snakes and with the head of Medusa in the center. [from early 17th c.]
    • 1790, “AEGIS”, in Bell’s New Pantheon; or, Historical Dictionary of the Gods, Demi-gods, Heroes, and Fabulous Personages of Antiquity: [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed by and for J[ohn] Bell, [], OCLC 976883484, page 20, column 1:
      The goat Amalthea, which had suckled Jove, being dead, that god is said to have covered his buckler with the skin thereof, whence the appellation Aegis, from αιξ, αιγις, a she-goat. Jupiter afterwards restoring the goat to life, covered it with a new skin, and placed it among the stars. This buckler, which was the work of Vulcan, he gave to Minerva, who having killed the Gorgon Medusa, nailed her head to the middle of the Aegis, which henceforth possessed the faculty of converting to stone all who beheld it, as Medusa herself had while alive.
    • 1822, James Millingen, Painted Greek Vases, from Collections in Various Countries: [] (Ancient Unedited Monuments; series 1), London: [s.n.], OCLC 58892108, page 3:
      Herodotus, as proof of this origin of Minerva, says, that the Greeks had taken from the Libyan women, the dress and the ægis with which her statues were represented: this dress was of leather: the ægis, as its name implies, was simply a goatskin died red and worn over the shoulders like a mantle: the extremity of it was cut into shreds or tassels, which the lively fancy of the Grecian artists converted into serpents.
    • 1837, F. M. Hubbard, quoting Herodotus, “Article III. An Inquiry into the Commerce of Ancient Egypt.”, in B[ela] B[ates] Edwards, editor, The American Biblical Repository, volume X, number 27, New York, N.Y.: Gould & Newman, publishers and printers; Boston, Mass.: Perkins & Marvin and Crocker & Brewster; Cincinnati, Oh.: Truman & Smith, OCLC 472043802, page 49:
      The robe and aegides of the statues of Minerva the Greeks have made in imitation of the Lybians, for except that the robe among the Lybians is of leather and the fringes of the aegis are not serpents but strips of leather, the adorning is entirely the same. And the very name is an acknowledgement that the vesture of the palladium is derived from Lybia, for the Lybian women put around the robe their goat skins tasselled and stained with madder (ἐρευθεδάνω) and from these goat skins, (ἐχ δὲ τῶν αἰγἑων τουτἑων) the Greeks have taken the word aegis.
    • 1849, [Eliza Robbins], “Minerva”, in Elements of Mythology; or, Classical Fables of the Greeks and Romans: [], 11th improved edition, Philadelphia, Pa.: Published and for sale by Hogan & Thompson [], OCLC 10952348, page 57:
      In her right hand Minerva bore a beaming lance, and in her left a buckler, called the Egis. The Egis of Minerva had embossed upon it the head of Medusa.
    • 1934 November, Theodor Haecker; A[rthur] W[esley] Wheen, transl., “Leader and Mission”, in Virgil, Father of the West (Essays in Order; no. 14), London: Sheed & Ward, OCLC 270557474, page 65:
      Cattle grazed where now is the Forum Romanum, and the Capitol, now glittering with gold, was covered then with brambles; nevertheless a god already dwelt there, even Jupiter himself, whose right hand had oft been seen to shake the aegis and summon the storm-clouds.
  2. (figuratively) Usually as under the aegis: guidance, protection; endorsement, sponsorship.
    Synonyms: auspices, protection, patronage
    • 1913 March, “National Safety (II): The Real Obstacle to Military Reform”, in The Nineteenth Century and After: A Monthly Review Founded by James Knowles, volume LXXIII, number CCCCXXXIII, New York, N.Y.: Leonard Scott Publication Co.; London: Spottiswoode & Co. Ltd., printers, OCLC 776577785, page 490:
      [T]hree ex-Secretaries of State for War had learnt their military theory under the ægis of Regular soldiers. Now it is an admitted fact that, broad-minded and enterprising as soldiers have frequently proved themselves in matters unconnected with the actual corporate body to which they belong, they are, nevertheless, perhaps the most obstinate and optimistic advocates of a laissez-faire policy, which the interests of their own profession are at issue, that it is at all possible to conceive.
    • 1967, Nancy Nichols Barker, Distaff Diplomacy: The Empress Eugénie and the Foreign Policy of the Second Empire, Austin, Tx.; London: University of Texas Press, OCLC 820726483, page 141:
      Under the aegis of France a group of buffer states would be born. Austria would cede Venetia to Italy and receive Silesia from Prussia. France had only to promise Austria her neutrality and to keep Italy on its leash.
    • 2002 July 3, Mark Morford, “Girl With The Toaster Tattoo”, in San Francisco Chronicle[1]:
      It is a reminder. It is a psychological aegis, a soul-slap, a permanent piece of tangible everpresent everprofound artwork meant to speak to the wearer and say things like: You don't always have to make toast.
    • 2003, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Epistemology of the Closet”, in Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Itzkovitz, and Ann Pellegrini, editors, Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (Between Men—Between Women), New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 57:
      The Supreme Court in Bowers v. Hardwick notoriously left the individual states free to prohibit any acts they wish to define as "sodomy," by whomsoever performed, with no fear at all of impinging on any rights, and particularly privacy rights, safeguarded by the Constiution; yet only shortly thereafter a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules (in Sergeant Perry J. Watkins v. United States Army) that homosexual persons, as a particular kind of person, are entitled to Constitutional protections under the Equal Protection clause. To be gay in this system is to come under the radically overlapping aegises of a universalizing discourse of acts and a minoritizing discourse of persons.

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From the Ancient Greek αἰγῐ́ς (aigís).



aegis f (genitive aegidos or aegidis); third declension

  1. the aegis, or shield. See Aegis; αἰγίς.
    1. of Zeus or Jupiter
      • (Can we find and add a quotation of Virgil to this entry?)
      • (Can we find and add a quotation of Silius Italicus to this entry?)
    2. of Athena or Minerva
  2. (transferred senses):
    1. a shield, a defence; protection;
      1. (in the writings of Ovid) the jewelry by which maidens try to conceal their ugliness
    2. the heartwood of the larch
      • (Can we find and add a quotation of Pliny the Elder to this entry?)


Third-declension noun (Greek-type, normal variant or non-Greek-type).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative aegis aegides
Genitive aegidos
Dative aegidī aegidibus
Accusative aegida
Ablative aegide aegidibus
Vocative aegis

1In poetry.

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  • aegis”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • aegis”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • ægis in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette, page 72/1
  • aegis”, in The Perseus Project (1999) Perseus Encyclopedia[2]
  • aegis”, in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • aegis”, in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin
  • aegis” on page 63/1 of the Oxford Latin Dictionary (1st ed., 1968–82)