Humanities › History & Culture What Did "Kleos" Mean for the Ancient Greeks? The Idea of "Immortal Fame" in Greek Epic Poetry Share Flipboard Email Print Print Collector/Getty Images / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Ancient Languages Figures & Events Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated April 21, 2019 Kleos is a term used in Greek epic poetry that means immortal fame, but it can also mean rumor or renown. A very important theme in Homer's great epics The Iliad and The Odyssey, kleos often referred to having one's achievements venerated in poetry. As classicist Gregory Nagy notes in his book The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, a hero's glory was treasured in song and so, unlike the hero, the song would never die. For example, in the Iliad Achilles discusses how his mother Thetis assured him his fame would be everlasting, that he would have a kleos that will be imperishable. Kleos in Greek Mythology A Greek soldier, like Achilles, could earn kleos through his own courage in battle, but he could also pass that kleos on to others. When Achilles's killed Hector in honor of Patroclus, he extended his own kleos to include Patroclus. A monument or proper burial could bring and reaffirm kleos, as can reports of one's offspring's virtuous deeds. The kleos of the mighty Hector survived his death, living on in the memory of his friends and the monuments built to honor him. Although it was usually the bravest warriors who could achieve the long lasting fame of kleos, it was the poets who were responsible for making sure that their voices carried these tales far and wide and into the hands of future scholars. Resources and Further Reading Nagy G. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press.