A to Aegyptus Aello to Agesilaus I Agesilaus II to Akhaia Akhaian to Alkman Alkmene to Anaetius Anakeion to Apaturia Apeliotes to Argos Argus to Arkhidike Arkhilokhos to Astyanax Astydameia to Azov

Alkmene to Anaetius


The daughter of Elektryon (Electryon) and the mother of Herakles (Heracles) and Iphikles (Iphicles).

Alkmene’s father was accidentally killed in a dispute over some cattle by a young warrior named Amphitryon; in order to repay Alkmene for this cruel accident Amphitryon promised to avenge the murder of her brothers at the hands of the Teleboans.

Amphitryon was to consummate his marriage to Alkmene when he completed his promise but before he could return, Zeus came to Alkmene in the guise of Amphitryon and seduced her; from Zeus she conceived Herakles and from Amphitryon she conceived Iphikles.

Alkyone (1)

One of the seven daughters of Atlas known as the Pleiades.

The hunter, Orion, relentlessly pursued the girls until they were changed into pigeons by Zeus and eventually put into the night sky as a constellation.

The name Alkyone literally means Sea-Bird.

Alkyone’s sisters are: Asterope, Elektra (Electra), Kelaeno (Celaeno), Maia, Merope and Taygete.

Alkyone (2)

One of the daughters of Aiolos (Aeolus) and the wife of Keyx (Ceyx).

Husband and wife were both changed into birds that bore their names; Alkyone was changed into a Kingfisher and Keyx was changed into some other sort of sea bird.

Alkyone’s siblings were: Sisyphus, Kanake (Canace), Makareos (Macareus), Athamas, Salmoneus and Kalyke (Calyce).

Alkyone (3)

The by-name (nickname) of the daughter of Marpessa and Idas, Kleopatra (Cleopatra).

When Kleopatra was kidnapped by Apollon, Idas stood up to the god but could not save his maiden daughter.

Alkyone literally means Sea-Bird and the by-name was given to Kleopatra because her mother wailed and cried “like a sea-bird” for her kidnapped daughter’s return.

Alkyoneus (1)

A giant who threw a stone at Herakles (Heracles) and was killed when Herakles hit the stone back with his club.

Alkyoneus (2)

A giant who, invulnerable in his own country, was dragged by Herakles (Heracles) to another country and there killed.


An abstract or symbolic narrative (agoreuein = to speak, proclaim).


The name of a work on astronomy by Ptolemy, originally called Mathematike Syntaxis (System of Mathematics).

During the Middle Ages the work became known by its Arabic name, Almagest; assumed to have been written between 141 and 147 CE; Almagest means The Greatest, i.e. The Great Compilation.


The goddess of the Thrashing Floor.


A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Kanake (Canace); consort of Iphimedeia and father of the Giants: Otos and Ephialtes.


A daughter of Kerkyon (Cercyon) who was taken by Poseidon (lord of the Sea), and bore him a son, Hippothoos.


A name for Aphrodite (goddess of Love) meaning Sea-Born.


The first letter in the Greek alphabet.

Alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, were combined to give us the English word Alphabet.


The Greek AlphabetSymbols (letters) that compose a language.

The word, alphabet, comes from the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, i.e. alpha and beta; the 24 letter Greek alphabet is credited to Kallistratus (Callistratus) of the island of Samos.

Originally, the Greek alphabet had nineteen letters and employed no accents when written. After circa 403 BCE, the various dialects were replaced by Koine, i.e. common pronunciation.

The dialects used by the ancient Greeks included::

Epic (used by Homer);

Ionic (used by Herodotus);

Doric (used in the Attic choral songs) and

Aeolic (used by Sappho).

The Athenians finally refined a form of the Ionic dialect which eventually became known as Koine.

The noted educator, John Taylor Gatto, has some interesting insights into the importance of the Greek alphabet on his web site; he suggests that the Greeks recognized that a “revolutionary power could be unleashed by transcending mere lists, using written language for the permanent storage of analysis, exhortation, visions, and other things. After a period of experiment the Greeks came up with a series of letters to represent sounds of their language. Like the Phoenicians, they recognized the value of naming each letter in a way distinct from its sound value”; thus, Greek letters like “beta” might represent a “bee” sound but, when reciting the Greek alphabet, beta is intoned as “vetta”; this is comparable to English speakers using an “F” to represent a “fa” sound but, when we recite the English alphabet, we pronounce it as “eff.”


The river god of the Alpheius River on the Peloponnesian Peninsula which flows from Arkadia (Arcadia) westward through the district of Elis and the plain of Olympia.

Herakles (Heracles) diverted this river to complete his Fifth Labor, i.e. cleaning the stables of Augeas.

The name may also be rendered as Alpheos or Alpheos.


The wife of the lord of Kalydon (Calydon), Oineus; the mother of Meleagros (Meleager).

Althaia was a woman of fierce passion and her bitter resentment of her son’s pride caused his eventual death.

On one occasion, the city of Kalydon was under assault and Meleagros refused to fight; the elders of the city offered many gifts to Meleagros if he would help defend the city and king Oineus begged for his son to take up the sword and save the city from certain destruction; finally, at the pleading of his wife, Kleopatra (Cleopatra), Meleagros donned his armor and entered the battle at the last moment; the city was saved but the gifts that he had been offered were not given because the people of Kalydon felt that Meleagros had not done his duty in a proper way.

Meleagros earned his mother’s hatred when he killed her brother (or brothers) in a quarrel; after the Kalydonian Boar Hunt, Meleagros awarded the hide of the boar to the huntress, Atalanta, because she had been the first to wound the beast; Althaia’s brother(s) tried to take the boar hide away from Atalanta and Meleagros killed him (them); Althaia never forgave Meleagros and her vengeance caused Meleagros’ death.

Meleagros was fated at his birth to die when the wood on the fire burned away; Althaia took the wood from the fire and preserved it so that her son might have a long life; when Meleagros killed her brother(s), she took the wood she had hidden at Meleagros’ birth and burned it; Meleagros died.


King of Lydia circa 617-560 BCE and the father of Kroesus (Croesus).

When Alyattes became king, he inherited a war of attrition against the people of Miletus that had gone on for twelve years; the war had the same basic theme each year: the Lydians would attack the Milesians and burn their crops but they would not kill the people or destroy their homes.

The Milesians were no match for the powerful army of Alyattes and suffered year after year of deprivation; in the twelfth year of the war, the army of Alyattes accidentally set fire to the temple of Athene (Athena) at Assesos and it was utterly destroyed.

Alyattes and his subjects, gave little thought to the destruction of the temple until Alyattes was afflicted with a lingering illness; he sent an emissary to the oracle at Delphi seeking a cure for his illness and was told that until he rebuilt the temple of Athene at Assesos he would suffer ill health.

The prince of Miletus, Thrasybulus, heard what the oracle had told Alyattes and contrived a way to end the yearly invasion of his country; when Alyattes sent a herald to Miletus seeking a truce so that the temple could be rebuilt, Thrasybulus had the people of Miletus gather all their meager stores of food and wine and stage a mock celebration; the herald of Alyattes saw the display of affluence and dutifully reported the scene to his master; Alyattes was convinced that the years of war against Miletus were in vain and negotiated a permanent truce that included the construction of two temples for Athene.


A daughter of Nereus and Doris, i.e. a Nereid.

When Zeus was born, his mother, Rheia (Rhea), hid him from his father, Kronos (Cronos), and placed the infant god in the care of Amathea; she nurtured Zeus and fed him goat’s milk; in some versions of the story Amathea is a goat or a nymph rather than a Nereid.

In gratitude, Zeus supposedly gave Amathea the horn of a goat that would give her anything she desired; this horn was called the Horn of Plenty which the Romans named cornucopia, from the Latin cornu copiae.


The Amazons were a society of female warriors reputed to be the daughters of the war god, Ares.

The Amazons lived at the fringe of the civilized world beyond the shores of the Euxine (Black Sea) in the land of Skythia (Scythia).

The Greek word, Amazon, comes from the combination of A (meaning Without) and Mazos (meaning Right Breast); the Amazons were said to have cut off their right breast so that it would not interfere with their use of the bow in battle.

The historian, Herodotus (Histories, book 4, chapter 110), said that the Skythians called the Amazons oeorpata which is the equivalent of Man Killers (orer being the Skythian word for Man and pata for Kill).

Early artwork representing the Amazons showed them as fierce warriors but later renderings showed them as comely women dressed in Persian garb.

There are several accounts of Greek heroes encountering the Amazons:

  1. The Ninth Labor of Herakles (Heracles) involved retrieving the belt of the Amazon queen, Hippolyte; the belt that Herakles was supposed to retrieve was not magical or valuable but simply an emblem of dominance, i.e. if Herakles could take the belt, then the Amazons were inferior to the Greeks; the Amazon queen either voluntarily gave the belt to Herakles or he took it by force, regardless Herakles was the master of the situation;
  2. When Theseus, king of Athens, encountered the Amazons, he married their queen, Antiope; the subjects of Antiope declared an unsuccessful war on the Athenians;
  3. Bellerophontes was sent to Lykia (Lycia) by the jealous king of Argos, Proetus, so that he could be killed; Bellerophontes was given a series of suicidal tasks and one of them was to go to the land of the Amazons and slaughter them; true to his heroic nature, Bellerophontes survived and the Amazons suffered under his sword; and
  4. During the siege of the city of Troy, Helen and king Priam had a conversation in which Priam told of the time when he had fought with the Amazons; he said that they were the equal of men and the only reason the Greek men won the battle was because they outnumbered the Amazon women.

The legendary ferocity and uniqueness of the Amazons endures into our modern age; when the Spanish conquistadors were exploring South America (circa 1500 CE) they came across a tribe of women warriors and named the river where the warrior women lived the Amazon.

  • Iliad, book 3, lines 181-190; book 6, line 186
  • Amber Islands

    A name given by the Greeks in later times to the islands of the North Sea; also called the Elektrides (Electrides).


    The food of the Immortals.


    The wife of Xerxes and the mother of Darius.

    As the queen of the Persian Empire, Amestris was accustomed to the intrigues and excesses of her husband, Xerxes, but she exceeded all others in heavy-handed cruelty.

    When Xerxes tried, and failed, to seduce his brother’s wife he set his designs on his son’s wife, Artaynte; Amestris devised a clever and evil plan to punish her husband and foil his impulses for infidelity; she gave Xerxes an exquisite cloak that she knew young Artaynte would covet; Xerxes gave the cloak to Artaynte as Amestris predicted and by doing so Amestris knew without doubt that her husband was being unfaithful to her.

    Amestris waited for the king’s birthday and, as custom dictated, the king was obliged to grant favors and give gifts to his subjects; Amestris asked Xerxes for Artaynte’s mother as a gift and he could not refuse even though he suspected an evil end to such an unusual request; Amestris had Artaynte’s mother killed and mutilated.

    Xerxes feared revenge for such unjustified treatment of the innocent woman and had his brother, his nephews and their supporters murdered to prevent any retaliation.


    The Egyptian god that the Greeks equated with Zeus.

    The oracle of Ammon in Libya has a special significance the Greeks because after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, he went to Libya to consult the oracle and supposedly gained favor from the god to continue his conquests.

    The Oracle of Ammon and the oracle of Dodona are assumed to be the two oldest Greek oracles in existence; two priestesses with the skill of divination were carried away by Phoenicians; one was sold in Libya and the other was sold in Greece; the two women taught their skills to other women and thus the Greeks obtained their first oracles.


    A Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea in the Kyklades (Cyclades) Group southeast of the large island of Naxos and eastern-most of the Kyklades.

    The island is 46.7 square miles (121 square kilometers) in area with a shore line of 69.6 miles (112 kilometers).

    Approximate east longitude 25.59 and north latitude 36.50.


    A satyr who was placed among the stars by Dionysus.


    The husband of Eriphyle and father of Alkmaeon (Alcmaeon) and Amphilokhus (Amphilochus).

    Amphiaraus was a participant in the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt and one of the Seven Against Thebes; his life and death were tied to the Necklace of Harmonia which was crafted by Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and presumed to be a curse to anyone who possessed it.

    Polynikes (Polynices) was the son of Oedipus and as a direct descendant of the founder of the city of Thebes, he inherited the Necklace of Harmonia as his birthright; when Polynikes was exiled in Argos and organizing the attack on Thebes, he bribed Amphiaraus’ wife, Eriphyle, with the Necklace to persuade Amphiaraus to join the doomed quest to conquer the city.

    Amphiaraus was a seer and knew that the attack on Thebes would be fatal to himself and most of the other soldiers but he marched off to Thebes anyway; before he left for war, Amphiaraus made his son swear that he would take vengeance on Eriphyle and the city of Thebes so that his death would not be forgotten.

    A generation later, Alkmaeon avenged his father’s death when he killed his mother and was part of the army, the Epigoni, which successfully captured Thebes.

    Amphiaraus was deified after death and an oracle was established in his name at the city of Oropus; his shrine lasted well into Roman times before it was destroyed.

    Amphictyonic League

    Called the Amphiktyonia (Amphictyonia); the council was composed of deputies from several Greek cities which met twice a year at the cities of Delphi and Thermopylae.

    The primary concern of the League was religious matters and their unity had little effect in resolving political or military disputes; the League was supposedly founded by the legendary ruler, Amphiktyon (Amphictyon).


    One of the sons of Aldus and brother of Auge, Kepheus (Cepheus) and Lykurgos (Lycurgus).

    Amphidamas and Kepheus joined the Argonauts in the quest for the Golden Fleece; competitive games were held in the city of Khalkis (Chalcis) on the island of Euboea in honor of Amphidamas; the poet Hesiod said that he competed in the games and won a prize for one of his songs.


    A son of Deukalion (Deucalion) and Pyrrha and the brother of the founder of the Greek race, Hellen.

    Amphiktyon seized the throne of Attika (Attica) and devised a plan for avoiding disputes at his council meetings by becoming the first man to mix water with wine; he is credited with founding the Amphictyonic League.


    Disputations or Disputes; the daughters of Eris (Discord).


    One of the sons of Amphiaraus and the brother of Alkmaeon (Alkmaeon); Amphilokhus founded the city of Posideium in northern Syria.


    A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea); he and the Muse, Ourania (Urania), are believed to be the parents of the poet Linus.


    He was the most aggressive and considered to be the best man among the suitors of Penelope.

    Amphinomus was killed by Odysseus’ son, Telemakhos (Telemachus), after Odysseus returned home and organized the death and/or eviction of the suitors from his household.

    Amphion (1)

    He and his brother, Zethos, were sons of Zeus and Antiope; Amphion married Niobe.

    Amphion presumably built the foundations and bulwarks of the city of Thebes by moving the stones with the enchanting music from his kithara.

    In the play, Antiope, by Euripides, the story was expanded and the twin boys, now grown to manhood, avenged the harsh treatment their mother had received at the hands of her uncle and aunt, Lykus (Lycus) and Dirke (Dirce); as punishment for their ill-treatment of Antiope, Lykus was deposed as the king of Thebes and Dirke was killed cruelly on the horns of a bull.

    Amphion (2)

    Amphion and his brother, Asterios, were the sons of Hyperasios and Hypso; he is most noted as being an Argonaut.

    Amphion (3)

    The son of Iasos, king of Orkhomenos (Orchomenos).

    Amphion was the father of Khloris (Chloris) and thus, the grandfather of Nestor, Khromios (Chromios), Periklymenos and beautiful Pero.


    A city in Thrake (Thrace) on the Strymon River approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the coast of the Gulf of Strimon.

    The area around the city has been inhabited since the Neolithic Period and continuously populated since the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BCE).

    The city was occupied by the Greeks as early as the seventh century BCE and gained great importance with the discovery of nearby gold mines.

    In 442 BCE, soon after the Peloponnesian War began between Athens and Sparta, Amphipolis declared its independence; in 357 BCE, Amphipolis fell under the control of Phillip II of Makedon (Macedon).

    Approximate east longitude 23.86 and north latitude 40.80.


    Epithet for Aphrodite (goddess of Love) as the Busy-One.


    An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

    Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.


    A son of Apollon and Akakallis (Acacallis).

    Amphithemis was also called Garamas; his home was in Libya and he had two sons: Nasamon and Kaphauros (Caphaurus); his wife was a nymph but her name is unknown.


    One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.

    Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) who helped Theseus retrieve the ring that king Minos threw into the sea as a test of Theseus’ divine heritage; when the king of the island of Crete, Minos, met Theseus he doubted that the young man was actually the son of Poseidon; as a test, Minos threw a ring into the sea and waited to see if Theseus could retrieve it; Amphitrite caught the ring and returned it to the hand of Theseus.

    Amphitrite is also called Queen of the Sea.


    The son of Alkaeus (Alcaeus); the husband of Alkmene (Alcmene) and the father of Iphikles (Iphicles) and step-father of Herakles (Heracles).

    As a young man, Amphitryon, had accidentally killed Alkmene’s father in a dispute over some cattle and, to repay her for this cruel accident, Amphitryon promised to avenge the murder of her brothers at the hands of the Teleboans; Amphitryon was to consummate his marriage to Alkmene when he completed his promise but, before he could return, Zeus came to Alkmene in the guise of Amphitryon and seduced her; from Zeus she conceived Herakles and from Amphitryon she conceived Iphikles.


    A large jar or vase having a large oval body, narrow cylindrical neck and two handles that rise almost to the level of the mouth.


    A miniature Amphora; typically four inches tall.


    The inability to produce or comprehend musical sounds; the word is formed from the prefix A meaning “without” and Muse meaning The Muse, i.e. artistic inspiration.


    An ancient city in Lakonia (Laconia) slightly southeast of Sparta on the eastern banks of the Eurotas River.

    Amyklae was founded by Amyklas (Amyclas) and renowned as a city of fierce independence; when the Dorians invaded Greece in the twelfth century BCE, the citizens of Amyklae remained aloof to their influence and even after the Dorians had taken control of the city, the native inhabitants continued to maintain their customs and tradition.

    Soldiers from Amyklae participated in the Trojan War.

    The exact location of the ancient city is not known because it was never very large or rich and therefore lost in the mists of time.

    The name, Amyklae, may also be rendered as Amyklia or Amyclia.

    Amyklaean Apollon

    A name for Apollon in the Lakonian (Laconian) city, Amyklia (Amyclia).


    The father of Hyakinthus (Hyacinthus) and the founder of the city of Amyklae (Amyclae) on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.


    A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the nymph, Melie.

    Amykos was the king of the Bebrykians (Bebrycians) and was known for his ruthlessness and his skill at boxing.

    When the Argonauts sought hospitality from Amykos, he challenged their best man to fight with him; since Herakles (Heracles) was no longer with the Argonauts, Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) rose to the challenge; he literally beat Amykos to death.

    The name, Amykos, may also be rendered as Amykus or Amycus.


    One of the fifty daughters of Danaus collectively called the Danaids.

    Amymone and her sisters were forced to marry their cousins but, at the prompting of their father, all of the sisters with the exception of Hypermnestra, killed their husbands on their wedding night; their punishment was to try and fill leaky jars with water in the Underworld for eternity.

    Amymone was seduced by Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and had a son named Nauplios; Poseidon created and named a spring after Amymone.


    The father of Philip II and thus the grandfather of Alexander the Great.


    The father of Phoinix (Phoenix) and husband of Kleobule (Cleobule).

    When Amyntor was being unfaithful to Kleobule, she begged Phoinix to seduce the mistress and turn her affections away from Amyntor; when Amyntor detected the plot, he cursed Phoinix and drove him from the city of Kalydon (Calydon).


    A large cup common in the district of Thrake (Thrace).


    The son of Kretheus (Cretheus) and Tyro who supported Iason’s (Jason) claim to the throne of Iolkos (Iolcos).


    Sometimes called The Persian Expedition; a book by Xenophon describing the plight of ten thousand Greek mercenaries who were forced to fight their way from central Persia back to Greek-controlled territory.

    After the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) had ended, Greece was awash with career soldiers who became mercenaries for lack of any other marketable skills.

    Xenophon was not a soldier but became involved with the army of mercenaries who had been hired by Kyrus (Cyrus) the Younger, the brother of the Persian king, Artaxerxes II.

    Kyrus hired the Greek soldiers to augment his army in an attempt to put himself on the throne and depose Artaxerxes; the Greeks fought valiantly and, compared to their Persian counterparts, were superior in all matters of warfare.

    After the army had penetrated deep into Persia, Kyrus was killed and the Persian segment of the army was utterly defeated; the Greeks were victorious but, after the death of Kyrus, they had no sponsor, i.e. paymaster, and thus, no incentive to continue the fight.

    The victorious Persians demanded that the Greeks disarm and become soldiers of Artaxerxes; the Greeks reasoned that in order to be soldiers, for Artaxerxes or anyone else, they could not surrender their arms; after fruitless negotiations to disarm the Greeks, the Persians agreed to let the Greeks return to the Aegean coast, i.e. Greek territory, unhindered.

    The Persians requested that all the high ranking Greek commanders attend the signing of a peace accord and, in an act of unmitigated barbarity, the Persians murdered many of the Greek officers; the remnants of the Greek command staff were mostly officers of mid-rank and not qualified to lead an army but necessity dictated that the Greeks either die fighting or die like sheep.

    Xenophon was not a soldier but his rational and successful suggestions soon made him the commander of the Greeks; he earned the respect of the soldiers and officers because he conducted his affairs in an honest and democratic way and was willing to undertake any plan or maneuver that would work, regardless of the source of the idea.

    The ten thousand soldiers were reduced to six thousand as fought their way back to Greek territory; the story is true and inspiring and a “must read” for all students of history or anyone with a fascination for the origins of military strategy and the triumph of the human spirit.

    The name Anabasis means “up-country” or “going up”; the Greeks used the term as an idiom in the same way we might say “downtown;” Anabasis was the common term for anyone traveling from the Aegean Sea to the center of the Persian Empire.

    I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 90 (ISBN 0674991001) translated by Carleton L. Brownson; you can find this book at your local library or it can be ordered through the Book Shop on this site which is linked to


    One of the names of Aphrodite (goddess of Love) which literally means, to rise up from the sea.


    One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE).

    Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy.

    The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence.

    Open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

    Alkmene to Anaetius

    A to Aegyptus Aello to Agesilaus I Agesilaus II to Akhaia Akhaian to Alkman Alkmene to Anaetius Anakeion to Apaturia Apeliotes to Argos Argus to Arkhidike Arkhilokhos to Astyanax Astydameia to Azov


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