Historical Characters of Ancient Greece
Gods and Myths—Legendary
Gaia and Uranus to Reign of the Olympians
Olympians-Second Generation of Gods, related to Zeus
|Zeus (Jupiter)||God of Heavens, Weather, Lightning - King of Gods|
|Poseidon (Neptune)||God of the Sea, Rivers, Earthquakes, Horses|
|Hades (Pluto)||God of the Underworld,Dead, Precious Metals|
|Hera (Juno)||Goddess of Marriage, Women - Queen of Gods - Mother (with Zeus) of Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe, and Eris|
|Hestia (Vesta)||Goddess of the Hearth, Home, Chastity|
|Ares (Mars)||God of War, bloodshed, violence|
|Athena (Minerva)||Goddess of Wisdom, Strategy, Handcrafts, Skill|
|Apollo (Apollo)||God of Light,Prophecy,Music,Healing|
|Artemis (Diana)||Goddess of the Hunt,Forest,Wild Animals,Maidens|
|Aphrodite (Venus)||Goddess of Love,Beauty,Desire, mother of Cupid|
|Hermes (Mercury)||God of Travel, Commerce, Speed, Diplomacy, Trickery - Messenger of Gods|
|Hephaestus (Vulcan)||God of the Forge, Fire, Craftsmanship|
|Demeter (Ceres)||Goddess of Grain, Agriculture, Harvest, Fertility - Mother (with Zeus) of Persephone|
|Dionysus (Bacchus)||God of Wine, Revelry, Festivals, Madness|
| ||Goddess of Spring - Wife of Hades|
|Hebe (Juventus)||Goddess of Youth - Cupbearer of the Gods|
|Eris (Discordia)||Goddess of Discord - Sister of Ares|
|Eros (Cupid)||God of Love - Son of Aphrodite|
|Pan (Faunnus)||God of Nature, Shepherds, Flocks|
- Primordals and Titans-First Generation of Gods ▼
Gaia Primordial Earth Goddess and mother of all Titans and Giants. Uranus Primoridal God of the Heavens and father of all Titans. Cronos (Saturn) King of Titans and wife of Rhea; overthrown by his son Zeus. Rhea Queen of Titans, mother of Zeus, Posiedon, Hades, Hestia, Hera, Demeter. Hyperion Titan of Light, father (with Theia) of Helios (sun), Selene (moon), Eos (dawn). Mnemosyne Titan of Memory, mother (with Zeus) of the nine muses. Oceanus Titan of Oceans, father (with Tethys) of rivers, springs, streams, fountains. Prometheus Titan of forethought and crafty council, creator of mankind. Epimetheus Titan of afterthought and father of excuses. Leto Titan of motherhood and mother (with Zeus) of Artemis and Apollo Metis Titan of good council and Mother (with Zeus) of Athena. Atlas Titan forced to carry the sky on his sholders.
- Sister Goddesses ▼
Mousai (Muses) Sisters of Inspiration for Arts and Literature: (9) History, Astronomy, Dance, Song, Comedy, Tragedy, Epic Poetry, Lyric Poetry, Love Poetry Charities (Graces) Sisters of Charm and Beauty: (3) Splender, Mirth, Good Cheer Moirai (Fates) Sisters of Destiny: (3) Spin Thread, Measure Thread, Cut Thread Horae (Hours) Sisters of Order and Justice: (3) Order, Justice, Peace Erinyes (Furies) Sisters of Vengences: (3) Punishment, Grudge, Anger Graeae (Grey Witches) Ancient Sisters who share one eye and one tooth: (3) Dread, Horror, Alarm Hesperides (Evening Nymphs) Sisters who tend an island garden in the far west: (3) Red, Light, Sunset
- Early Mortals ▼
Deucalion Son of Prometheus who survives a world-wide flood with his wife Pyrrha, sent by the gods as punishment for the evils of humaninty. Pyrrha Daughter of Pandora and survivor of a world-wide flood with husband Deucalion. The first human woman, created by the Gods, who opens a box that releases all of the evils in the world to plague humanity. Phoenican princess who was kidnapped by Zeus in the form of a white Bull, and carried off to Crete. Phoenician prince, brother of Europa, who goes to Greece in search of his sister and founds Thebes. Arachne Celebrated weaver who was boasted that her skill was great than that of Athene.
Heroes and Monsters—Legendary
Exploits of Perseus to Death of Hercules
Demigods—Sons of one god and one Mortal
(Son of Zeus) Greatest of Greek demigod heroes. Succeeded in twelve labors. (Son of Zeus) Legendary hero who killed Medusa, a monster so ugly it turned people to stone. (Son of Poseidon) Legendary hero, who killed the Minataur. Ancient King of Athens. Pollux (Son of Zeus) Prince of Sparta, renowned horseman, boxer, and Argonaut. Twin of Castor (a mortal) and brother of Helen. (Son of Aphrodite) Trojan hero who escapes from the Destroyed city and founds Rome. Minos (Son of Zeus) King of Crete, patron of Daedalus, and keeper of the Minotaur.
Led a voyage of 'Argonauts' on a quest to recover the Golden Fleece. Solved the mystery of the Sphinx, and became the King of Thebes. Then struck with tragedy. Hero associated with Corinth, who killed the Chimera and rode the winged horse Pegasus. Castor Mortal twin of Pollux, prince of Sparta and brother of Helen. Traveled with the Argonauts. renowed craftsman, credited with inventing many ingenious devices, and designing the Labyrinth. Icarus Son of Daedalus who perished when he flew too near the son with waxen wings crafted by his father. Meleager Hero who hosted the Calydonian Boar hunt, and was a suitor for Atalanta. Orpheus renowed musician, famed for leading the Argonauts past the Sirens and rescuing his wife from the Underworld. Phrygian king who was granted the "Golden Touch", but repented when he turned his daughter to gold. Eurystheus King of Tiryns, loyal to Hera, who imposes twelve labors on Hercules.
Andromeda Ethiopian princess who is doomed to be sacrificed to a sea-monster, but rescued by Perseus. Eurydice Wife of Orpheus, the only mortal ever rescued from the underworld. Daughter of Oedipus, king of Thebes. Cares for him when he is exiled. Atalanta Famed huntress who hunted the Calydonian Boar and was involved with Meleager. Deianeira Third wife of Hercules who accidently kills her husband with the Tunic of Nessus. Medea Sorceress wife of Jason, who helps him gain the Golden Fleece. Sorceress daughter of Helios, who enticed sailors with her hospitality and then turned them into animals. Hippolyta Daughter of Ares and Queen of the Amazons. Possessed a magical girdle.
Partially Human Creatures
Centaurs Half-Man, half horse creatures that are usually prone to rowdy behavior. Chiron, the famous centaur tutor of Achilles, Jason, and Perseus, was exceptionally noble and wise. Nessus was another famous Centaur, known for killing Hercules. Satyr Half-man, half goat creatures associated with Dionysus and drunkenness. Pan god of shepherds and flocks is the most famous satyr. Silenus, leader of the Satyrs, had the gift of prophesy when drunk.
- Greek Monsters ▼
Monster Hero Description Scylla Jason Six headed sea-monster that grabbed sailors from every vessal that approached her. Charybdis Jason Giant sea monster in the shape of a whirlpool, who consumed vessels that sailed too close. Harpies Jason Ugly winged bird-women, who torment people by snatching their food away. Sirens Jason Beautiful Sea Nymphs who lure sailors to their death with alluring song. Symplegades Jason (Clashing Rocks) A pair of Rocks in the Bosperous that smash ships between them as they pass. Talos Jason Bronze gaint who protect Crete by hurling bolders at passing ships. Cyclopes Odysseus One-eyed, man eating giants. Laestrygonians Odysseus Man-eating giants encountered by Odysseus Sphynx Oedipus Monster with a woman's head, a lion's body, wings, and a serpent's tail. Medusa Perseus One of the Gorgon sisters, So ugly she turned humans to stone. Cetus Perseus Sea Monster in the shape of a large shark or killer whale. Minotaur Theseus Man-eating Creature with the head of a bull and body of a man. Lived in Creten labyrinth. Procrustes Theseus Bandit who stretched his victims, or cut of their legs in order to fit them into an iron bed. Chimera Bellerophon Fire-breathing monster with a goat's body, a lion's head,and a serpent's tail. Pegasus Bellerophon Winged Horse, fathered by Poseidon, captured by Bellerophon. Calydonian Boar Atalanta Giant Boar sent by Artemis to ravage Aetolia. Subject of a famous hunt. Geryon Hercules Three-bodied, four winged giant. Antaeus Hercules Giant wrestler, who drew his enormous strength from contact with his mother Gaia (earth). Nemean Lion Hercules Giant lion, whose fur was impenetrable by mortal weapons. Hydra Hercules Many headed serpent, that grew two heads whenever one was cut off. Erymanthian Boar Hercules Giant boar that haunted the region of Mt. Erymanthos, Achaia in Western Greece. Stymphalian Birds Hercules Man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and metallic feathers. Ladon Hercules Hundred headed sea serpent who guards the apples of the Hesperides. Cretan Bull Hercules White bull that carried Europa to Crete. Father of the Minotaur. Mares of Diomedes Hercules Fire-breathing, man-eating horses, kept by a Thracian giant. Cyberus Hercules Three-headed dog that guarded the entry to Hades. Achelous Hercules River God of the largest river in Greece, who fought Hercules for the hand of Deianeria.
Homeric Epics—1000 B.C.
Trojan War to Return of Odysseus
The Iliad - Trojans
Beautiful Spartan princess, and wife of Menelaus who started the Trojan when she ran off with Paris. Paris Prince of Troy, kidnaps Helen with the help of Aphrodite. Prince of Troy, Brave and Noble leader of Trojans. Killed by Achilles. Trojan hero, and son of Aphrodite, who escaped Troy and eventually settled near Rome. Cassandra Trojan princess who was given the gift of prophesy, but was never to be believed. Priam King of Troy, who pleads with Achilles for the body of his son Hector. Hecuba Queen of Troy, mother of Hector, Paris, and Cassandra. Andromache Faithful wife of Hector who becomes a concubine of Achilles' son after the war. Pandarus Trojan archer who unwittingly sabotages a truce by shooting Menelaus.
The Iliad - Greeks
Menelaus Spartan king and husband of Helen, who raised a fleet of "1000 Ships" to rescue her from Troy. Brother of Menelaus, and Greek leader in the Trojan War. Killed by his wife upon his return home. Greatest warrior hero of the Greeks, renowned for his fighting skills. Central character of the Iliad. Patroclus Dearest friend of Achilles who dons the armor of Achilles and is killed by Hector. Thetis Immortal Mother of Achilles, who seeks to protect him from harm. Nestor Veteran warrior who is too old to fight, but serves as a trusted advisor to the Greeks. Iphigenia Daughter of Agamemnon who is sacrificed to the Gods while the Greek fleet is stranded at Aulis. Diomedes Courageous and noble hero, who leads the Greeks in battle after Achilles quits the field. Ajax (Greater) Strongest and Bravest of the Greek warriors, chosen to do single combat with Hector. Briseis Greek princess who is the cause of a great row between Achilles and Agamemnon during the Trojan War.
The Odyssey - Heroines and Heroes
Greek hero known best for strategy and craft. Central character of the Odyssey. Patient and faithful wife of Odysseus. Kept suitors at bay for twenty years as she awaited his return. Telemaches Son of Odysseus who leaves Ithaca in search of his father. Laertes Father of Odysseus, who sailed with Jason on the Argo and grieves for his lost son. Nausicaa Phaecian princess who rescues Odysseus when he drifts ashore her land.
The Odyssey - Monsters and Immortals
Lotus Eaters Race of people who eat lotus plants that put the into an oblivious sleep. Aeolus Ruler of the four winds, including the Boreas, the North wind, and Zephyrus, the West Wind. Circe Sorceress daughter of Helios, exiled to the island of Aeaea, where she turned men into beasts. Scylla Six headed sea-monster that grabbed sailors from every vessel that approached her. Charybdis Giant sea monster in the shape of a whirlpool, who consumed vessels that sailed too close. Harpies Ugly winged bird-women, who torment people by snatching their food away. Sirens Beautiful Sea Nymphs who lure sailors to their death with alluring song. Clashing Rocks (Symplegades) A pair of Rocks in the Bosperous that smash ships between them as they pass. Talos Bronze giant who protect Crete by hurling boulders at passing ships. Cyclopes Race of one-eyed giants, sons of Gaia, freed from Tartarus by Zeus. Polyphemus Giant Cyclops, son of Poseidon, who captures Odysseus in his cave. Laestrygonians Race of man-eating giants who ate a great many of Odysseus's men. Calypso Sea nymph who fell in love with Odysseus and kept him captive for many years.
Early City-States—800 to 500 B.C.
Rise of Sparta to Reforms of Cleisthenes
Character Date Short Biography ~ 1000 BC Blind poet who "wrote" the Iliad and Odyssey, before the age of writing. ~ 550 BC Famous Greek Fablist, alledgedly lived at the court of Croesus in Lydia.
d. 631 BC Bravely defended Messenians from Spartan conquest, for 17 years. ~ 650 BC Wrote inspiring battle ballads for Sparta during the Messenian War. Historian of Sparta. 884–820 BC Mastermind of Spartan laws and lifestyle. d. 489 BC King of Sparta before Persian Wars, removed tyrants from Athens, defeated Argos.
~ 1000 BC Last King of Athens. Died nobly, and Athenians resolved to never have another king. ~ 621 BC First wrote the laws of Athens, but made them very harsh. 638–559 BC Rewrote the laws of Athens to better protect poor citizens from the rich. 605–527 BC Tyrant of Athens. Respected Solon's laws. Established festivals, and promoted culture. ~ 555 BC Opposed, and then allied himself with Pisistratus. Married Agriste of the Alcmaeonidae clan. ~ 490 BC Exiled son of Pisistratus; helped lead Persian forces against Athens at Marathon. ~ 510 BC Athenian statesman who overthrew Hippias, and helped institute democratic reforms.
Corinth, Samos, Miletus
635–543 BC Early Greek philosopher and scientist, one of seven sages of Greece. d. 627 BC Legendary Tyrant of Corinth. Under the rule of his family the city became powerful. d. 522 BC Prosperous king of Samos who was overthrown by Oretes, his enemy from Asia Minor. 570–480 BC Philosopher and mathematician; invented the Pythagorean Theorem.
Persian War—560 to 472 B.C.
Rise of the Persia to Aftermath of Persian War
Character Date Short Biography
645–561 BC King who conquered much of Assyria and made his capital at Babylon. d. 525 BC Second to last king of Egypt, died before Egypt was overrun by Cambyses. 560–547 BC Wealthy monarch of Lydia who lost his kingdom to Cyrus the Great.
Rise of Persia
558–529 BC Prince of Persia who overran Medes, Lydia and Assyria to create the Persian Empire. ~ 550 BC Minister of Astyages who betrayed him in favor of Cyrus. d. 522 BC Eldest son of Cyrus. Invaded Egypt, killed brother, then died. ~ 522 BC Impersonated Smerdis, son of Cyrus and stole the throne of Persia. ~ 521 BC Daughter of Cyrus the Great, wife of Darius, mother of Xerxes d. 486 BC With six conspirators seized the throne of Persia, primarily through craft rather than force. ~ 529 BC Queen of the Scythians. Her army defeated and killed Cyrus the Great. ~ 500 BC Greek physician, valuable slave of Darius. Schemed and plotted to return to Greece. d. 482 BC Loyal Persian General, helped Darius retake Babylon with an elaborate ruse.
d. 494 BC Very close advisor to Darius, rescued him from disaster in Scythia, later rebelled. Father in law of Aristagoras. ~ 494 BC Son-in-law of Histiaeus. Led Rebellion of Greek Colonies in Asia Minor.
~ 500 BC Brother of Darius, Satrap of Lydia during Ionian Rebellion. Lead Persian forces at Marathon. 520–465 BC Raised an enormous army for Persian invasion of Greece. Defeated at Battle of Salamis. d. 489 BC Brother-in-law of Xerxes and commander-in-chief of Xerxes's Army. ~ 480 BC Brother of Darius. Close advisor to Darius and Xerxes. ~ 480 BC Queen of Halicarnassas and Cos. One of Xerxes most trusted advisors and Generals. ~ 480 BC Exiled King of Sparta, advisor to Xerxes during his invasion of Greece. ~ 480 BC Satrap who magnificently hosted Xerxes and was repaid by having his eldest son slain.
~ 485 BC Volunteered to sacrifice their lives to the Persian King to expiate the murder of Ambassadors. d. 489 BC Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon. d. 490 BC Ran from Athens to Sparta to warn of Persians. Ran to Athens after Marathon, then died. d. 480 BC Spartan King whose whole army died defending the pass of Thermopylae. 525–462 BC Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy. ~ 480 BC Head of Spartan Fleet during the Persian War. d. 468 BC Athenian General and Statesman. Fought at Marathon, Salamis; created Delian League. d. 470 BC Spartan General who led Greece against Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea.
Athenian Empire—478 to 404 B.C.
Formation of Delian League to Fall of Athens
Character Date Short Biography
Arts and Literature
525–456 BC First of the three great Greek Tragedians. Wrote plays including the tragedies of Oedipus and Antigone. 496–406 BC Wrote Greek Tragedies, including the tragedies of Agamemnon, Electra, and Orestes. 480–406 BC Third of the great Greek Tragedians. Wrote Alcestis, Medea, Orestes, Electra and many others. 448–388 BC Greatest of Greek Comedian playwrights. Wrote Frogs, Clouds, Peace, Birds, and many others. 518–438 BC Most famous of Greek Lyric Poets. 500–432 BC Built statues of Athene in the Parthenon and Jupiter at Olympia. Friend of Pericles. 484–425 BC Wrote Histories of the Persian War and empires of the east. 460–400 BC Historian of Peloponnesian War. An Athenian general sent into exile after he failed a mission.
Science and Philosophy
500–428 BC First Great Philosopher of Athens, thought to be a teacher of Socrates. 469–399 BC First moral philosopher, immortalized by Plato. 460–377 BC Father of modern medicine. Set up medical school to train doctors by scientific methods.
499–429 BC Athenian statesman during Golden Age of Athens. Made Athens cultural center of Greece. ~ 450 BC Foreign born courtesan, and wife of Pericles. Highly educated for a woman of her age. 476–427 BC Spartan King during the early years of Peloponnesian War. Sought peace with Athens, but was forced into the war. d. 424 BC King of Persia during early part of Peloponnesian War, allied with Sparta
d. 449 BC Athenian statesman and general. Fought Persians in Ionia after the war. Friend of Sparta. d. 422 BC War mongering politician, opposed Sparta's peace proposals. d. 422 BC Eloquent Spartan general, turned tide of Peloponnesian War in Sparta's favor. Died at Amphipolis. d. 395 BC Spartan naval Commander who defeated Athens in Peloponnesian War. ~ 413 BC Lead the resistance in Syracuse that defeated Athenian forces during Peloponnesian War. 450–404 BC Controversial statesman and general of Athens, who betrayed the city, then returned as hero. d. 413 BC After death of Pericles, emerged as leader of peace party. Led disastrous Sicilian Expedition. d. 413 BC Important Athenian general in the Peloponnesian War. Perished at Syracuse. d. 415 BC Admiral who with Nicias and Alcibiades led the Sicilian Expedition. Died in early combat.
Late Classical—404 to 338 B.C.
Thirty Tyrants in Athens to Battle of Chaeronea
Character Date Short Biography
Retreat of the 10,000
430–357 BC Historian who led Greek army out of Persia, in retreat of the Ten Thousand. d. 401 BC Plotted to kill his brother Artaxerxes, and assume the Persian throne. d. 401 BC Spartan mercenary who commanded the 'Ten Thousand' Greeks at Cunaxa. Treacherously killed by Tissaphernes. d. 395 BC Persian Satrap of Asia Minor during Peloponnesian War. Allied with Sparta. d. 358 BC King of Persia during the retreat of the Ten Thousand.
444–360 BC Leader of Sparta after the Peloponnesian War. Campaigned in Asia Minor and warred with Thebes. 410–364 BC Helped to liberate Thebes. Leader of the "Sacred Band" of Theban Warriors. 418–362 BC Greatest General of his age. Defeated the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra, and made Thebes predominant.
Science and Philosophy
427–347 BC Writer of moral philosophy. Well known for 'Dialogues'. Student of Socrates. 384–322 BC Renowned scientist and philosopher. Cataloged all types of knowledge. Tutor to Alexander the Great. 412–323 BC Cynic Philosopher.
Tyrants in Sicily
430–367 BC From humble origins, arose to become Tyrant of the city of Syracuse. ~ 380 BC Story of Damon and Pythias celebrates trusted friendship and willingness to die for one another. 397–343 BC Continued tyrannical reign in Syracuse after the death of his father; student of Plato, overthrown by Dion. 409–354 BC Brother-in-law of the Tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse; helped to overthrow him. d. 337 BC Liberated the entire island of Syracuse from Tyrants and Carthaginians.
Rise of Macedonia
402–318 BC Athenian statesmen who tried to avoid war between Athens and Macedonia. Sometimes opposed Demosthenes. 382–336 BC Used statesmanship as well as military force to bring Greece under sway of Macedonia. 385–322 BC One of Greece's greatest orators. Spoke against Philip and the Macedonians.
Hellenistic Era—336 to 146 B.C.
Reign of Alexander to Rome Destroys Corinth
Character Date Short Biography
Age of Alexander
356–323 BC Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers. 410–330 BC Chief general of both Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. Eventually killed by Alexander. d. 319 BC One of Philip's most trusted generals. Left in charge of Macedonia during Alexander's conquests. d. 316 BC Wife of Philip of Macedon. Alexander's mother. Quarreled with Antipater over charge of Macedonia. d. 330 BC Last king of Persia, overthrown by Alexander the Great. ~ 325 BC Proud King of India, defeated by Alexander, but then restored as Satrap of the region.
Diadochi - Early Division of Empire
d. 321 BC Took over the empire of Alexander at his death, but couldn't keep it. d. 283 BC General of Alexander, founded Egyptian Dynasty that lasted for 300 years. 361–316 BC Enemy of Antigonus, allied with Perdiccas; controlled Asia Minor until killed by Antigonus. 382–301 BC Allied with Antipater and Ptolemy I in early Diadochi Wars. Won control of Asia Minor and Syria. 358–297 BC Son of Antipater. Wrestled control of Macedonia from Polyperchon. Enemy of Olympias. 355–281 BC Bodyguard of Alexander. Took control of Thrace on his death. Engaged in Wars of Diadochi.
Later Hellenistic Empires
337–284 BC Son of Antigonus, active in the wars of the Diadochi. d. 280 BC Son of a general of Alexander. Founded Seleucid Dynasty, in Syria and Central Asia. 318–272 BC Renowned general, won victories in Macedon, Italy, and Greece, but failed to follow up wins. ~ 280 BC Minister of Thessaly, and friend and advisor of Pyrrhus of Epirus. 320–239 BC Son of Demetrius. After many battles, ended with control of Macedon and established Antigonid Dynasty. 241–187 BC King of Syria who warred with Rome in Thrace and Asia Minor. d. 160 BC Lead a Jewish rebellion during the reign of the Syrian King Antiochus V.
Sparta vs. Achaean League
d. 241 BC King who tried to reform Sparta and return to laws of Lycurgus. Killed for his efforts. 236–220 BC Successfully implemented many reforms in Sparta, but was resisted by Achaean League. d. 213 BC Leader of Achaean League; First resisted Macedonia, then forced an alliance to defeat Sparta. 252–182 BC Lead the Achaean League. Tried to unite Greeks, shortly before Greece fell to Rome.
Hellenistic Era Science
340–300 BC Most eminent mathematician of his age, wrote Elements of Geometry. 287–212 BC Eminent scientist and inventor. Held off Roman siege of Syracuse with clever defenses. 275–192 BC Early Greek scientist from Alexandria who correctly predicted the precise size of the earth in 200 BC. 203–120 BC Taken as Greek hostage during Macedonian wars; historian of Punic Wars.
Greco-Roman Science and Literature
64–24 Greek Geographer and philosopher. Well known for a 17 volume geographic history of the world. 46–122 Most outstanding moralist and biographer of ancient times. Wrote Lives of Greeks and Romans. 90–168 Greatest map-maker of Roman times. Renowned expert in Astronomy and Geography. 129–199 Renowned physician and philosopher whose works on the human body were studied until the 17th century. 380–415 Philosopher and teacher who lived in Alexandria.
- Sister Goddesses ▼