In classical myth
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. Great demigods and heroes occasionally attacked gods and released ichor, but gods rarely did so to each other in Homeric myth.
Iliad V. 364–382
Blood follow'd, but immortal; ichor pure,† 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.
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. †
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."
In art, entertainment, and media
Comics and manga
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 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.
- Of uncertain etymology; R. S. P. Beekes has suggested that is a foreign word (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 607–8).
- 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).
- Clement of Alexandria. "Protrepticus (EXHORTATION TO THE HEATHEN)". Retrieved 16 December 2016.
- "Ichor - definition". Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
- Butcher, Jim, "Cold Days", Chapters 6 & 23 ISBN 978-0451419125
- Le Guin, Ursula K. "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie". The Language of the Night. p. 80. ISBN 0-425-05205-2.
- The dictionary definition of ichor at Wiktionary