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This article is about the mythological term. For the modern meaning, see Bile.

In Greek mythology, ichor (/ˈkər/ or /ˈɪkər/; Ancient Greek: ἰχώρ)[1] is the ethereal fluid that is the blood of the gods and/or immortals.

In classical myth[edit]

Ichor originates in Greek mythology, where it is the ethereal fluid that is the Greek gods' blood, sometimes said to retain the qualities of the immortal's food and drink, ambrosia and nectar.[2] Great demigods and heroes occasionally attacked gods and released ichor, but gods rarely did so to each other in Homeric myth.[citation needed]

Iliad V. 364–382[2]

    Blood follow'd, but immortal; ichor pure,
    Such as the blest inhabitants of heav'n
    May bleed, nectareous; for the Gods eat not
    Man's food, nor slake as he with sable wine
    Their thirst, thence bloodless and from death exempt. †

†   We are not to understand that the poet ascribes the immortality of the Gods to their abstinence from the drink and food of man, for most animals partake of neither, but the expression is elliptic and requires to be supplied thus—They drink not wine but nectar, eat not the food of mortals, but ambrosia; thence it is that they are bloodless and from death exempt.
— W. Cowper, The Iliad of Homer, Schol. per Vill

In Ancient Crete, tradition told of Talos, a giant man of bronze portrayed with wings. When Cretan mythology was appropriated by the Greeks, they imagined him more like the Colossus of Rhodes. He possessed a single vein running with ichor that was stoppered by a nail in his back. Talos guarded Europa on Crete and threw boulders at intruders until the Argonauts came after the acquisition of the Golden Fleece and the sorceress Medea took out the nail, releasing the ichor and killing him.

The Greek Christian writer Clement of Alexandria used "ichor" in the ancient medical understanding of a foul-smelling watery discharge from a wound or ulcer, in a polemic against the pagan Greek gods. As part of his evidence that they are merely mortal, he cites several cases in which the Gods are wounded physically, and then adds, "And if there are wounds, there is blood. For the ichor of the poets is more repulsive than blood; for the putrefaction of blood is called ichor."[3]

In medicine[edit]

In pathology, "ichor" is an antiquated term for a watery discharge from a wound or ulcer, with an unpleasant or fetid (offensive) smell.[4]

In art, entertainment, and media[edit]

Comics and manga[edit]

In the manga Immortal Rain, ichor is an injection created by the character Yuca that suppresses the mutation of angel blood in the series.


In Dungeons & Dragons, the blood of demons is referred to as "ichor".

In the MOBA game League of Legends, two types of ichors were available on the Twisted Treeline map as consumable items that gave temporary bonuses to a player's stats.

In the trading card game Magic: The Gathering, ichor is a frequent euphemism for the phyrexian glistening oil.

In the video game Shovel Knight, ichor is a special liquid that can be filled into a chalice by the so-called Troupple King. These liquids have special effects when used, being able to heal the character, grant him immunity, or attract treasures.

In the video game Tales of Monkey Island, ichor is a beverage drunk by Coronado De Cava and his crew members while trapped inside a giant manatee looking for La Esponja Grande.

In the video game Terraria, ichor is a loot drop from Ichor Stickers and Tainted Ghouls and is used to make various items that inflict a unique debuff which lowers defense by 20, regardless of armor type.

In the video game Warframe, the weapon "dual ichor" is a pair of two short blades that do poison damage to foes. Considering all foes are mortal, it fits rather well.


In John Birmingham's Dave Hooper novels, Emergence, Resistance, and Ascendance, the dragons' bodily fluids include ichor.

In Peter V. Brett's The Demon Cycle book series, the black blood of the various species of demon is referred to as ichor.

Jim Butcher, in his Dresden Files series, uses the term ichor to describe the thick black blood of "ghouls".[5]

In Jacqueline Carey's fantasy novels series, Kushiel's Legacy, the D'Angelines are said to have ichor in their veins.

In Cassandra Clare's young adult fantasy novel series The Mortal Instruments, the blood of the demons and angels is referred to as ichor.

Ursula K. Le Guin, in her story "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", calls the term, "the infallible touchstone of the seventh-rate."[6]

In Doris Lessing's novel The Diaries of Jane Somers/ If the Old Could, Jane Somers thinks, “every gland in my body was shooting out magical substances and that my blood must be pure ichor.”

H. P. Lovecraft often used "ichor" in his descriptions of other-worldly creatures, most prominently in his nightmarish detail of the remains of Wilbur Whateley, in The Dunwich Horror.

In Anne McCaffrey's science fiction series Dragonriders of Pern, the native fauna of Pern has been referred to as "greenblood" and the dragons themselves have green ichor.

In Rick Riordan's series Percy Jackson & the Olympians, all divine immortal beings have ichor instead of blood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Of uncertain etymology; R. S. P. Beekes has suggested that is a foreign word (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 607–8).
  2. ^ a b Homer, (trans. William Cowper) (1802). Johnson, John, ed. The Iliad of Homer, Translated into English Blank Verse. Volume 1. Iliad V. 364–382 (p. 153). 
  3. ^ Clement of Alexandria. "Protrepticus (EXHORTATION TO THE HEATHEN)". Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Ichor - definition". Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. 
  5. ^ Butcher, Jim, "Cold Days", Chapters 6 & 23 ISBN 978-0451419125
  6. ^ Le Guin, Ursula K. "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie". The Language of the Night. p. 80. ISBN 0-425-05205-2. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of ichor at Wiktionary