Ancient Mythology

Greek Mythology Names

The following is a list of names in Greek mythology. Included are the names of gods, goddesses, heroes and other figures, and their past and present meanings where available.

English Name Greek Name Meaning
AgamemnonΆγαμέμνων“very resolute”
The AmazonsΆμαζόνεςUnclear. It may come from a Persian word meaning “warrirors”, though it has also been proposed to mean “manless”.
AnterosΑντέρως“love returned”, meaning love that is requited rather than rejected
AphroditeΆφροδίτηThe name has come to mean “risen from the foam” after aphros for “foam”, but this is a definition that comes after the name. It originally seems to mean “she who appears at dusk”, a reference to the evening star Venus and Aphrodite’s mesopotamian origins.
ApolloΆπόλλωνAccording to the Greek philosopher Plato, the name comes from the Greek words for “redeem”, “purification” and “simple”. It may also have originally meant “assembly”. Eventually, Greek language associated the name with the verb “to destroy”.
AresΆρης“curse”
ArtemisΆρτεμιςThe name possibly originated with an Indo-European word for “bear”, but has come to mean “safe” in Greek.
AthenaΆθηναPlato explains that Athenians thought it meant “divine mind”. Athena’s name is shared with the city-state of Athens.
AtlasΆτλαςPotentially means “enduring”, though it is still debated by scholars. It may also mean “to support”. Both are consistent with the myth of Atlas.
CerberusΚέρβεροςThe latinized name Cerberus comes from the Greek Kerberos, which likely comes from an Indo-European word meaning “spotted”.
ChaosΧαος“gaping void” or “chasm”
ClytemnestraΚλυταιμηστραOriginally meant “scheme”, but is traditionally thought to mean “famed for her suitors”.
DemeterΔημητηρ“earth mother”
DikeΔικη“justice”
DionysusΔιονυσοςThe name seems to mean “the Zeus of Nysa”. Nysa was a mythical place where Dionysus was raised by Nymphs. Notably, the worship of Dionysus seems to come from Asia Minor (now Turkey). The Hittites who inhabited part of this rejion called themselves the Nesi, though it is also thought that the myth of Nysa was invented after the god was named.
ElectraΉλεκτρα“bright” or “amber”
ErosΈρως“intimate love”
ErinyesΈρινυης“the angry ones”. Curiously, they are also known as the Eumenides, or “the gracious ones”.
GaeaΓαια“earth”
The GorgonsΓοργωνThe term “gorgon” comes from the Greek gorgos, which means “dreadful”.
HadesΆιδης“the unseen”
HelenΈλενηThe meaning of Helen’s name is debated. It may mean “the moon”, “torch” or “to roll”.
HellenΈλλενThe ancient Greeks called themselves the Hellenes. The name of their mythical founder, Hellen, may have come after they adopted the name. It may have similar origins as the name Helen, but is presumably older.
HephaestusΉφαιστος
HeraΉρηHera’s name may mean “season”, though it may also mean “heifer”, which would be consistent with her common description as cow-eyed.
HeraclesΉρηκληςLitterally, it means “the glory of Hera”. Heracles was the son of Zeus, Hera’s husband, and a mortal woman. The name is somewhat comical, since Hera was often eager to see Heracles fail.
HermesΉρμηςThe meaning of the name is uncertain, but the name Hermes has come to mean “messenger”, as Hermes was the messenger god.
IoΊώUnknown
KronosΚρονοςThe name was confused with Chronos sometime around the 15th century, and there grew an image of Kronos as “father time”. The name may have originally meant “the horned god”.
Laocoönλαοκοων
LetoλητώLikely means “woman” or “wife”, though it may mean “the hidden one”
MedusaΜεδουσα“guardian”
MinosΜινωσMinos was the mythical king of Crete. It is possible that the word minos originally meant “king”, or was merely adopted as the title of the kings after Minos.
MinotaurΜινώταυροσ“the bull of Minos”
MoiraeΜοιραιThe “apportioners” from the Greek “part” or portion. The Moirae, or Fates, controlled the parts of mortal lives.
NikeΝικη“victory”
OedipusΟιδιπουςOedipus’ name means “with swollen feet”, a reference to the manner in which he was orphaned as a child. The title of the Sophoclean play Oedipus Tyrannus in Greek, or Oedipus Rex in Latin, means “Oedipus the King”.
OuranosΟυρανος“sky”
PandoraΠανδωρα“giver of all”
PersephoneΠερσεφονηThe meaning of her name is unclear, but Persephone was also known as Kore meaning “girl”.
PhoenixΦοινιξThe origin of the name phoenix is unclear. The phoenix is present in the myths of ancient Greeks, Phonecians, Persians, Egyptians and Chinese.
PoseidonΠοσειδωνOriginal meaning uncertain. Poseidon was the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses.
PrometheusΠρομηθευς“forethought”
RheaΡεαThe name Rhea is closest to the Greek word for “ground”, but Plato identified her name with the word “flow”.
SirensΣειρην(ης)The original meaning is uncertain, but the name Siren has come to be synonymous with “temptress”.
SisyphusΣισυφοςThe term sisyphean is used to indicate a fruitless, endless labour. Its original meaning is unclear.
ThemisΘημις“law of nature”
ZeusΖευςZeus is the eventual Greek version of an earlier Indo-European sky god named Dieus. The name descends from Indo-European words meaning “sky”, though the Greek word for sky was assigned to the god Ouranos. Zeus’s name can also be equated with “god”.

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