Catalogs of Ancient Greek Women

Homer’s Catalog of Women

  • Ἀντίκλεια — mother of Odysseus.
  • Tyro — Τυρὼ, Lover of the River God.
  • Antiope — ‘Αντιόπην, Prosmiscuity and Punishment.
  • Alcmena — ‘Αλκμήνην, Mother of Heracles.
  • Jocasta — ‘Επικάστην, Queen of Thebes.
  • Chloris — Χλω̃ριν
  • Leda— Λήδα , Λήδην — Mother of Helen. If this name is related to the word ‘lady’ then it is derived from germanic ‘hlaibaz’ meaning ‘bread’ and Indo-European ‘dheigh-‘ meaning ‘to knead clay’. But this is unlikely as Greek came before German. More likely is a relation between Leda and the Greek word ‘ληδον’ means the gum labdanum. This gum was known to the ancient world and used in flavorings and perfumes. The word is associated with more southern cultures and is perhaps Akkadian. The more likely meaning of the name ‘Leda’ is ‘fragrant’ like the gum.
  • Iphimedeia — Ἰφιμέδεια, Ἰφιμέδη, ‘Ιφιμέδειαν. This name means ‘strong measures’ from Indo-European yegwa-, ‘power’ and med- ‘to take appropriate measures’
  • Phaedra — Φαίδρην, Princess of Crete torn by love
  • Procris — Πρόκριν
  • Ariadne — ‘Αριάδνην, Princess of Crete
  • Maira — Μαι̃ράν
  • Clymene — κλυμένην
  • Eriphyle — ‘Εριφύλην

The catalog of Women of Homer occurs in the Odyssey in book 11 as Odysseus is visiting the Kingdom of the dead. Many have commented that this list has little to do with heroic action and so may not have been part of the original poem. On closer view one realizes that the Odyssey is not about heroic action and one realizes the importance of this list. Homer is about sirituality and the Spiritual life. Women form a part of this life and should be recognized. The lives of these women may provide insight to the lives of women at any time.

What is interesting about this list is that these names are not easily translatable in Greek. Why “Ariadne” is translated as “very holy” in the name lists is not clear, but it does not seem to be Greek. “Chloris” is the name of a goddess but this ‘Chloris’ is different. Anyway the name is associated with Demeter and a spring festival Chloia and the meaning comes from this. The location of the Women is interesting:

Life locations of the women:

  • Tyro – Born at Elis, Went to Phocis.
  • Antiope – Born at Hyria, went to sycion, enslaved at Thebes, finally settled in Phocis
  • Alcmena – Born at Mycenae, then Thebes, then Tiryns.
  • Jocasta – Born at Thebes and stayed there.
  • Chloris – Born at Orchomenus then went to Pylos.
  • Leda – Born is Aetolia an went to Sparta.
  • Iphimedeia – Lived in Thessaly.
  • Phaedra – Born in Crete and moved to Athens.
  • Procris – Born in Athens and moved to Phocis.
  • Ariadne – Born in Crete and may have died on Naxos
  • Maira – Born in Lycia, moved to Tiryns
  • Clymene – Lived at Phylace in Thessaly
  • Eriphyle – born in Argos, moved to Sicyon, and back to Argos

Translations of the names:

  • Ἀντίκλεια — ‘before fame’ from Indo-European ‘anti-‘, ‘against’ and ‘kleu-1’, ‘To hear’.
  • Τυρὼ — Tyro — ‘Cheese’ from Indo-European ‘teue-, ‘To swell’ and ‘reg-2’, ‘Moist’
  • Αντιόπην — Antiope — ‘against work’ from Indo-European ‘anti-‘, ‘against’ and ‘op-1’, ‘to work, choose in abundance’.
  • Αλκμήνην — Alcmena — ‘protective strength’ from Greek ‘ἀλκή’ and ‘μένος’, ‘might, force’ from Indo-European ‘alek-‘,’To ward off, protect’ and ‘magh-1’, ‘To be able, have power’

The range of these women is not unlike the range of the warriors of Achaea as described in Homer’s Iliad. The question is whether they are part of the Mycenaean culture, the Dorian culture, or part of the Minoan culture that is revealed to us from archeaology. Furthermore there is the question of whether the derivation of the names of this list will help in the mysteries of the time between the Minoan Culture and the Culture of Classical Greece.

Women in Homer’s Iliad

Many women are included in the Iliad as a part of the geneology of the heroes.

  • Abarbarea –“Aesepus and Pedasus, whom on a time the fountain-nymph Abarbarea bare to peerless Bucolion. Now Bucolion was son of lordly Laomedon, his eldest born, though the mother that bare him was unwed; he while shepherding his flocks lay with the nymph in love, and she conceived and bare twin sons.” 6.22
  • Laodice — “Laodice, fairest of her daughters to look upon 6.252
  • Castianeira — “but peerless Gorgythion he smote in the breast with his arrow, Priam’s valiant son, that a mother wedded from Aesyme had born, [305] even fair Castianeira, in form like to the goddesses.” 6.303
  • Althaea — “he(Meleager) then, wroth at heart against his dear mother Althaea,” 9.555
  • Cleopatra — “abode beside his (Meleager’s) wedded wife, the fair Cleopatra” 9.556
  • Marpessa — daughter of Marpessa of the fair ankles,” 9.557

Catalog of Women by Hesiod

These are being translated into Indo-European with the intent of discovering the nature of the culture which Hesiod reports. The Mycenaean culture is reported to be I-E as a result of the decoding of the linear-b tablets by Michael Ventris. But the contribution of the Minoan Culture is not clear. The artifacts from the Mycenaean culture have strong resemblance to the Minoan. But if their language differed then communication between the cultures might have been very restricted and influence weak. Most of the names seem translatable but some in odd, perhaps old forms. The general pattern is that the names are formed of two words. The two parts are reviewed in Liddel and Scott. Then a similarly spelled I-E word with a similar meaning is found in the Dictionary of European Roots. The final choice of words is influenced by the appropriateness of the name for young women. In some cases the name is related to some mythical act associated with the name. The suggestion is that the separation between Hesiod’s Greek and I-E is perhaps 2000 years or more. The translation of these names may relate to changes in the language during that time. Because of the inclusion in Hesiod’s Catalog the changes must have occurred well before Hesiod’s time. Word’s that are not I-E may well be loan words from the Minoan Culture. In the past it was suggested that most names could not be translated into Greek. But the translation into I-E seems to make more sense. With more effort more names may be made to correspond to meanings in myth. A number of women are known by several names. It may be possible to relate these differences to events in the lives of the women.

There seems to be a tendency to create the names of women from two other words.

The following definitions can be corrected when evidence is provided. The likelyhood is good because many translations are only approximate. More important are the names that cannot be translated into Indo-European as these may contain loan words from Crete or other cultures.

Carl Kerenyi in his book Dionysus identifies The place name ‘Oinoa’ with the meaning ‘the place of wine’ probably from the Minoan language. This word is used to define the name ‘Dionysus’. In the following ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’ is used to translate the following names as Indo-European names. If the other part of the name is Indo-European then this translation is supported.

  • Πύρρας — Pyrrha — ‘spinner’ from Indo-European ‘per-3’, ‘a bringing forth’ and ‘ruk-‘, ‘fabric, spun yarn’
  • Κλυμένης — Clymene — ‘famous for ability’ from Greek ‘κλειυός’,’famous’ and ‘μένος’, ‘might, force’ from Indo-European ‘kleu’ to hear and ‘magh-1’, ‘To be able, have power’
  • Πρυνόης — Prynoe — ‘beloved backside’ from Indo-European ‘pri’ to love and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Πανδώρας — Pandora — ‘cloth giver’ from Indo-European ‘pā̆n-‘, ‘woven fabric’ and ‘dō-‘, ‘to give’. Often it is derived from Greek: Πανδώρα, ‘giver of all, all-endowed’ click here) which is an epithet of the earth.
  • Πρωτογένια — Protogenia — ‘first born’ from Indo-European per-1, ‘first’ and gene- ‘beget’
  • Μελάνθεια — Melantheia — ‘dark bloom’ from Indo-European ‘mel-2’, ‘of a darkish color’ and andh- ‘bloom’
  • θυίας — Thyia — ‘dew’ from Indo-European dheu- ‘to rise in a cloud’
  • Iφθίμη — Iphthime — ‘strength’ as in Greek ῐφθῑμος from perhaps Indo-European yegwa – ‘power’. Homer uses ιφθίμη when referring to strong women
  • Κρείουσαν ­­– Creusa — ‘princess’ probably from Indo-European ker-3 – ‘to grow’ but also the feminine form of creon ( κρείων)
  • Aίναρέτη — Aenarete — ‘terribly brave’ possibly from Indo-European ane- ‘to breathe’ and erkw- to radiate, beam, praise.
  • Πεισιδίκην — Peisidice — ‘praise worthy’ from Indo-European per-1 ‘forward’ and deik- ‘to show’
  • Ἄλκυόνηυ — Alcyone — This name is related to the word for kingfisher. The name is not likely Indo-European since kingfisher was a local bird.
  • Καλύκην — Calyce — ‘fresh’ from Indo-European gal-1 ‘bald’
  • Κανάκην — Canace — the translation ‘daughter of the wind’ seems to refer to her father Aeolus the god of the wind. The name may be related to kanna ‘a reed’ but this is more likely a Semitic word.
  • Περιμήδην — Perimede — ‘appropriate behavior’ from Indo-European ‘per-4’, ‘To grant, allot, (reciprocally, to get in return)’ and ‘med-‘, ‘to take appropriate measures’
  • Εὐρείτην — Eurite — ‘well-dressed’ from Indo-European eu-1 ‘to dress’ and ar- to ‘fit together’ but might be related to Europa which means ‘goddess of the land of the setting sun’
  • Πολυκάστη — Polycaste — ‘abundantly chaste’ from Indo-European pel-8 ‘to fill’ and ‘kes-2’, ‘to cut’
  • Δηϊδάμεια — Deidamea — ‘housebound’ from Indo-European de- ‘to bind and deme-1 ‘House, household’.
  • Μολιόνης — Molione — ‘soft one’ from Indo-European ‘mel-1’, ‘soft’, and ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’
  • Ἰφιμεδείας — Iphimedia — ‘strong measures’ from Indo-European yegwa-, ‘power’ and ‘med-‘, ‘to take appropriate measures’
  • Δημοδίκη – Demodice — ‘house ornament’ from Indo-European deme-1 ‘House, household’ and deik- ‘to show’.
  • Leda— Λήδα , Λήδην — Mother of Helen. If this name is related to the word ‘lady’ then it is derived from the Indo-European word “dheigh-” meaning to knead clay. But what about ‘producer of a division’ from Indo-European ‘lei-1’, ‘to get’ and ‘da’, ‘to divide’. This would refer to the fact that her family was divided between Zeus and Tyndareus.
  • Ἄλθαίη — Althaea — ‘healer’ from Indo-European ‘al-3’, ‘to grow, nourish’ and ‘dhe-‘, ‘to set, put’.
  • ϓπερμήστρη — Hypermestra — ‘the greatest’ from Indo-European ‘uper’, ‘over’ and ‘meg-‘, ‘great’
  • Τιμάνδρην — Timandra — ‘worthy one’ from Indo-European ‘kwei-1’, ‘to pay, atone, compensate’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘man’
  • Κλυταιμήστρην — Clytemnestra — This name seems to have Indo-European roots in ‘kleu-, to hear, and ‘tem-‘, ‘to cut’. If the name means famous cutter then it is a name that applies to what she did to Agamemnon.
  • Φυλονόην — Phylonoe — ‘blooming backside’ from Indo-European ‘bhel-3′, “to thrive, bloom’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Ἰφιμέδην — Iphimede — ‘strong measures’ from Indo-European yegwa-, ‘power’ and med- ‘to take appropriate measures’
  • Ήλέκτρην — Electra — ‘light play’from Indo-European: ‘wlek-‘, ‘light’ and ‘ter-3’, ‘To cross over, pass through, overcome’.
  • Δηϊάνειραυ — Deianeira — ‘binder woman’ from Indo European ‘de-‘, to bind’ and ‘ner-2’ man.
  • Ἰφιάυειραυ — Iphianeira — ‘Strong woman’ from Indo-European ‘yegwa-‘, ‘power’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘man’
  • Λαοθόη — Laothoe — ‘spirit of the people’ from indo-European ‘al-3’, ‘to grow, nourish’ and ‘dew’ from Indo-European dheu- ‘to rise in a cloud’
  • Εὐρυθεμίστην — Eurythemiste — ‘widely placed’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and ‘dhe-1’, ‘to set or put’
  • Στρατουίκην — Stratonice — ‘well washed’ from Indo-European “strank-‘, ‘tight, narrow’and ‘neigw-‘, to wash
  • Στερόπην — Sterope — ‘heavenly’ from Indo-European ‘ster-‘, ‘star’ and ‘op’, ‘to produce in abundance’
  • Οἰτεϊς Προυόη — Oetaean Pronoe — ‘lovely backside’ from Indo-European ‘pri-‘, ‘to love’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Ἱόλειαυ — Iolea — ‘gets booty’ from Indo-European ‘ei’, ‘to go’ and ‘lei-, ‘to get’
  • Οἰχαλίην — Oechalia — ‘talkative’ from Indo-European ‘wegh’, ‘to go’ and ‘la-‘, ‘to talk’
  • Τυρὼ — Tyro — ‘cheese’ from Indo-European ‘teue-, ‘to swell’ and ‘reg-2’, ‘Moist’
  • Χλωριν — Chloris — ‘Spring shoots’ from Indo-European ‘ghel-2’, ‘To shine like yellow metal’ and ‘rei-2’, ‘Striped in various colors’
  • Εὐαγόρην — Euagore — ‘gathering joy’ from Indo-European ‘esu’, ‘good’ and ‘ger-1’, ‘To gather’
  • Ἀητιμέυην — Antimene — ‘before power’ from Indo-European ‘anti’, ‘against’ and ‘magh-1’, ‘To be able, have power’.
  • Ἀναξιβίη — Anaxibia — ‘ruler alive’ from Proto-Greek ‘Wanax’, ‘lord’ and Indo-European ‘gwei-‘, ‘To live’
  • Πολυκάστην — pel-8 ‘to fill’ casta — ‘Chastity’ from Indo-European ‘pel-8’, to ‘fill’ and ‘kes-2’, ‘to cut’
  • Πηρὼ — Pero — ‘Good omen’ from Indo-European ‘per-‘, ‘To grant, allot’ and ‘o’, ‘to announce, to hold as true’
  • Μέδουσαυ — Medusa — ‘good measure’ from Indo European ‘med-‘, ‘to take appropriate measures’ and ‘esu’, ‘good’
  • Άλκιμέδης — Alcimede — ‘righteous protector’ from Indo-European ‘alek’, ‘To ward off, protect’ and ‘med-‘, ‘to take appropriate measures’
  • Ἕλλην — Helle — ‘wished for’ from Indo-European ‘wel-2’, ‘To wish, will’ and ‘lei-1’, ‘to get’
  • Νεφέλης — Nephele — ‘Windy’ from Indo-European ‘nebh-‘ ‘Cloud’ and ‘el-3’, ‘to go’
  • Εὺίππη — Euippe — ‘horsey dresser’ from Indo-European eu-1 ‘to dress’ and ‘ekwo-‘, ‘horse’
  • Κομήτου — Cometes — ‘bushy hair’ From Indo-European ‘gembh’, ‘tooth’ and ‘teue’, ‘to swell’
  • Ειλαρίδην — Elara — ‘nice ride’ from Indo-European ‘wel-4’, ‘to turn, roll; with derivitives relating to curved, enclosing objects’ and ‘reidh” ‘to ride’
  • Ἀταλάντη — Atalanta — ‘beaten by deception’ from Indo-European ‘dher-1’, ‘to make muddy’ and ‘lengh’, ‘to refute’
  • Ἀρσινόης — Arsinoe — ‘well farmed backside’ from Indo-European ‘wer-2′, To bind, hang on the scale, heavy’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Ἐριωπις — Eriopis — ‘chosen one’ from Indo-European ‘ere”, ‘To Separate’ and ‘op-1’, ‘to work, choose in abundance.’ Note: ‘Ὤπις’ is an epithet of Artemis
  • Κορωνίδος — Coronis — ‘crown wearing one’ From Indo-Eropean ‘sker-3’, ‘to turn, bend’ and ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’
  • Ἠπιόνης — Epione — ‘gentle one’ from Indo-European ‘epi-‘, ‘Near, at, against’ and ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’
  • Ἀστερόδειαν — Asterodea — ‘starry’ from Indo-European ‘ster-3’, ‘star’ and ‘weid’, ‘To see’
  • Εὐρυανάσσης — Euryanassa — ‘Queen of far and wide’ Εὐρυ + ανάσσης from Greek ‘εὐρύτης’, ‘width or breadth’ and ‘ανάσσω’, ‘queen’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and from Proto-Greek ‘Wanax’, ‘lord’
  • Φιλωνίς — Philonis — ‘loving one’, from Greek ‘φιλέω + ‘ένας’ ‘affectionate love’ and ‘one’ from Indo-European ‘bhilio’, ‘Friendly, loving’ and ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’
  • Πολυμήλη — Polymele — ‘many melodies’ from Indo-European ‘poly-‘, many and ‘mel-3’, ‘a limb hense a muscal phrase’
  • Μήστραν — Mestra — ‘shape changer’ From Indo-European ‘mei’,’To change, go, move’ and ‘strebh’, ‘To wind, turn’.
  • Εὐρονόμη — Eurynome — ‘widely known’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and ‘gno-‘, ‘Known’.
  • Ἰους — Io — ‘I announce (I am an omen)’ from Indo-European ‘i’, ‘Pronominal stem’ and ‘o’, to announce’.
  • Εὐρυδίκην — Eurydice — ‘Widely seen’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and ‘deik-‘ ‘to show’
  • Δανάην — Danae — ‘provided shining’ from Indo-European ‘da-‘, ‘to divide’ and ‘nei-1’, ‘to be excited, shine’.
  • Σθενέβοια — Stheneboea — ‘strength of a cow’ from Indo-European ‘strenk-‘, ‘Tight narrow’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’.
  • Λυσιππην — Lysippe — ‘horse tamer’ from Greek ‘λύσις’, ‘loosing, releasing, ransoming’ and ‘ιππος’, ‘horse’ from Indo-European ‘leu-1’, ‘To loosen, divide, cut apart’ and ‘ekwo-‘, ‘horse’.
  • Ἰφινόην — Iphinoe — ‘powerful backside’ from Indo-European ‘yegwa-‘, ‘power’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Ἰφιάνασσαν — Iphianassa — ‘mighty queen’ from Greek ‘ἰφι’, ‘by force or might’ and ‘ανάσσω’, ‘queen’ from Indo-European ‘yegwa-‘, ‘power’ and from Proto-Greek ‘Wanax’, ‘lord’
  • Ἀλθαίας — Althaea — ”healer’ from Indo-European ‘al-3’, ‘to grow, nourish’ and ‘dhe-‘, ‘to set, put’.
  • Περίβοιαν — Periboea — ‘cow provider’ from Indo-European ‘per-4’, ‘To grant, allot, (reciprocally, to get in return)’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’.
  • Θρονίη — Thronia — ‘throw down’ from Indo-European ‘dhreu-‘, ‘To fall, flow drip, droop’ and ‘ni’, ‘down’.
  • Εὐρώπη – Europa — ‘wide choice’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and ‘op-1’, ‘to work, choose in abundance.’ but believed to mean ‘land of the setting sun’
  • Κασσιεπείας — Cassiepea — ‘pure cassia(cinnamon)’ from Akkadian ‘kasia’, ‘cassia’ and from Indo-European ‘peue-‘, ‘To cut, strike, stamp’
  • Ἀλφεσιβοίας — Alphesiboea — ‘bring many hides’ from Greek ‘ἀλφάίνω’, ‘fetch’ and ‘βοῦς’ ‘bovine’ From Indo-European perhaps ‘albho-‘, ‘white, ‘sel-3’, ‘To take’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’. Note: This references a Maiden who can yield many ox hides from her suitors. The derivation of ‘alphasi-‘ is unknown
  • Νιόβης — Niobe — ‘no boasting’ from Indo-European ‘ni-‘, ‘Down’ and ‘beu’, ‘to swell’
  • Μελίβοία — Meliboea — ‘sweet cow’ from Indo-European ‘melit-‘ honey’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’.
  • Καλλιστὼ — Callisto — ‘divine beauty’ From Indo-European ‘kal-2’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘leuk-‘, ‘Light, brightness’.
  • Ἀστρηἶδος — Astreis– ‘bright star’ from Indo-European ‘ster’, ‘star’ and ‘weid’, ‘To see’>
  • Ὑρίη — Hyria (or Thyria) — ‘stewardess’ from Indo-European ‘dhe-‘, ‘to set, put’ and ‘rei-‘, ‘scratch, tear, cut’
  • Θήβην — Thebe — ‘Make warm’ from Indo-European ‘dhe-‘, ‘to set, put’ and ‘bhe-‘, ‘Warm’
  • Ἀρέθουσα — Arethusa — ‘fountain’ from Indo-European ‘ar’, ‘To fit together’ and ‘dhreu-‘, ‘To fall, flow drip, droop’ ( a name of several fountains)
  • Λυσιδίκην — Lysidice — ‘abundance’ from Indo-European ‘leu-1’, ‘To loosen, divide, cut apart’ and ‘deik-‘ ‘to show’
  • Νικίππην — Nicippe — ‘Victorious horse’ from Indo-European ”, ” and ‘nek-‘, ‘To reach, attain’ and ‘ekwo-‘, ‘horse’
  • Ἀστυδάμειαυ — Astydamea — ‘star house’ From Indo-European ‘ster’, ‘star’ and ‘deme-1’ ‘House, household’
  • Ἀμφιβίαν — Amphibia — ‘leading a double life’ from Greek ‘αμφίβιος’ from Indo-European ‘ambhi-‘, ‘around’ and ‘gwei-‘, ‘To live’.
  • Ἀντιβίαν — Antibia — ‘opposing force to force’ from Greek ‘ἀντίβῐος’ from Indo-European ‘anti-‘, ‘against’ and ‘gwei-‘, ‘To live’
  • Ἀργεία — Argea — ‘a woman from Argos’ but also ‘a throw at dice’ and ‘shiner’ from Indo-European ‘arg-‘, ‘to shine’ and ‘ei1-‘, ‘to go’
  • Ἀλκμήνη — Alcmene — ‘protector of power’ from Indo-European ‘alek-‘, ‘to protect’ and ‘magh-1’, ‘To be able, have power’.
  • Ἀερόπης — Aerope — ‘breeze in abundance’ from Indo-European ‘we-‘, ‘to blow’ and ‘op-1’, ‘to work, choose in abundance.’
  • Δίαντος — Dia — ‘capable of being wetted’ from Indo-European ‘gwa’, ‘to go, come’ and ‘teng-‘, ‘To soak’.
  • κλεόλλας — Cleolla — ‘famous for eagerness’ from Indo-European ‘kleu’, ‘To hear’ and ‘las-‘, ‘to be eager, wanton, or unruly’.
  • Ήερόπεία — Aeropea — ‘protective choice’from Indo-European ‘ser-1’, ‘To protect’ and ‘op-2’, ‘To choose”.
  • Ἀρήτην — Arete — ‘goodness’ from Indo-European ‘ar-‘, ‘To fit together’ and ‘esu-‘, ‘good’
  • Κλεοδώρην — Cleodora — ‘famous for hides’ from Indo-European ‘kleu’, ‘To hear’ and ‘der-2’, ‘To split, peel, flay; with deritives relating to skin and leather’ (This may relate to suitors’ gifts)
  • Πολυδώρην — Polydora — ‘many hides’ from Indo-European pel-8 ‘to fill’ and ‘der-2’, ‘To split, peel, flay; with deritives relating to skin and leather’ (This may relate to suitors’ gifts)
  • Ἑλένης — Helen – ‘burn within’ related to the Greek word for torch, ‘ἑλένη’, ‘helene’, from Indo-European ‘bhel-1’, ‘To shine, flash, or burn’ and ‘en’, ‘within’
  • Ἑρμιόνην — Hermione — maybe ‘commanding voice’ from Indo-European ‘bhrem’, ‘To growl’ and ‘oino-‘, ‘One, unique’. This name does not seem to be the feminine form of Hermes because Hesiod spells these names differently. The notion of the name as earthy comes from the notion of Hermes as a god of the stone pile.
  • Ἀσίνην — Asine — ‘Unhurt’ from Greek ‘ἀσῐνής’, ‘unhurt’ from Indo-European ‘as-‘, ‘to burn, glow’ and ‘ne-‘, ‘not’.
  • Ἀμυμῴνηι — Amymone – ‘bameless’ from Greek ‘ἀμύμων’ from Indo-European ‘magh-2’, ‘to fight’ and ‘ne-‘, ‘not’.
  • Λαπηθείαι — Lapetha — ‘Divine light’ from Greek ‘λάπη’, ‘scum’ and ‘θεῖος’, ‘divine’ from Indo-European ‘lap-‘, ‘To light, burn’ and ‘dhes-‘, ‘divine’.
  • Μηθώνηι — Methone — ‘without measure’ from Indo-European ‘me’, ‘To measure’ and ‘ne-‘, ‘not’.
  • Κελαινοῖ — Celaeno — ‘cloud-wrapped’ from Indo-European ‘kel-4′, ,To cover, conceal’ and ‘ane’, ‘to breathe’
  • Μηκιονίκηι — — Mecionice — ‘significant win’ from Indo-European ‘meik’, ‘to mix’, ‘ei-‘, to go, ‘nek-2’, ‘To reach, attain’
  • Λαοδίκαι — Laodice — ‘profitable win’ from Indo-European ‘lau-‘, ‘gain,profit’ and ‘nek-2’, ‘To reach, attain’.
  • Πολυβοίαι — Polyboea — ‘Many cows’ from Indo-European ‘pel-8’, ‘to fill’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’.
  • Εὐβοίας — Euboea — ‘good cow’ from Indo-European ‘esu-‘, ‘good, well’ and ‘gwou-‘, ‘ox, bull, cow’. Note: ‘Εὔβοία’ is a place name from this woman’s name.
  • Φιλωνίδος — Philonis — ‘love of joy’ from Indo-European ‘bhilo-‘, ‘Loving, Friendly’ and ‘neud-‘, ‘To make use of, enjoy’.
  • Ἀρσινόης — Arsinoe — ‘hot backside’ from Indo-European ‘as-‘, ‘to burn, glow’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’.
  • Ἀκακαλλίδα — Acacallis — ‘Not evil, playfully’ from From Indo-European ‘ne’, ‘not’, ‘kakka’, ‘to defecate’ and ‘leid-‘, ‘to play, jest’. The first part of the name is related to Greek ἄκακος “without malice” (α- “not” + κακός “evil”) but there seems no Greek word corresponds to the second part of the name. These names seem to be split between two words and when a double letter occurs the split is between the two double letters. So the second word appears to be ‘λίδα’. But no similar Greek word has been found. From the Indo-European both ‘leid-‘ and ‘leu-1’ are posibilities.
  • Κυρήνης — Cyrene — ‘attain happily’ possibly from Indo-European ‘twer-2’, ‘To grasp, hold hard’ and ‘en-‘, ‘in’.

Mortal Women Seduced by Zeus

From Hom. Il. 14.312

  • Δία — Dia? — the wife of Ixion, who bare Peirithous, the peer of the gods in counsel. The meaning is said to be ‘bright sky’ but this seems unlikely. More likely is ‘worshipped’ from Indo-European ‘2. deu-, or dou- : du-‘, ‘to worship, venerate; mighty’
  • Δανάη — “Danaë of the fair ankles, daughter of Acmsius, [320] who bare Perseus, pre-eminent above all warriors”, The meaning ‘shining shower’ may apply and come from Indo-European ‘dā-‘, ‘fluid; river; to flow’
    and ‘2. nei-, neiə-, nī-‘, ‘to be moved, excited; to shine’
  • Europa “the daughter of far-famed Phoenix, that bare me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthys”. Means ‘wide choice’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8′, wide, broad’ and ‘op-1’, ‘to work, choose in abundance.’ but believed to mean ‘land of the setting sun’ It is not likely an Indo-European name because Europa is supposed to be from Phonecia.
  • Ἀλκμήνη — Alcmene– “Alcmene in Thebes, and she brought forth Heracles, her son stout of heart,” This name does not seem to be Indo-European.
  • Σεμέλη — Semele — “Semele bare Dionysus, the joy of mortals.” Semele is thought to be a transformed goddess of the earth so her name is not likely Indo-European.

Other Mortal Women

  • Names starting with ‘Andro’ the word ‘ἀνδρών’ (andron), ‘men’s room’, this word is from Indo-European ner(-t)- ‘vital force; man’ and ‘reu̯ə-‘, ‘to open; wide’. ‘andro-‘ is indicated in English as a prefix meaning ‘male sex’. andh- ‘to sprout, bloom, blossom’
    • Andro — commonly ‘warrior’ — Amazon, In this case Indo-European ‘man router’ from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘2. reu-‘, ‘to open, tear out, dig/rip up, etc.’
    • Androcleia — ανδρος (andros) “of a man” and κλέος (kleos)”good report” or “praising man” from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘1. k̑leu-‘, ‘to hear’.
    • Androdaixa (Androdaira) — Amazon — ανδρος (andros) “of a man” and δάϊς (dais)”battle” “battle man” from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘2. u̯eik-‘, ‘energy, force (in battle, victory, etc.)’
    • Androdice — ‘man transfixer from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘dhēigu̯- ‘to plant, stab, stick’
    • Androgenia — ‘man begeter’ from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘gene-‘, ‘beget’.
    • Andromache — Ἀνδρομάχη — commonly “battle of a man” from the Greek elements ανδρος (andros) “of a man” and μαχη (mache) “battle”. But in her myth she does not fight with men. ‘man kneader’ from Indo-European ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, and ‘mag̑-‘, ‘to knead, press’ seems better.
    • Andromeda — Ἀνδρομέδα — commonly ‘leader of men’ — “to think of a man” from the Greek element ανδρος (andros) “of a man” combined with μηδομαι (medomai) “to think, to be mindful of” and yet what does this have to do with the story of Perseus and Andromeda. More likely is the combination of ανδρος and δρόμος which suggests a race with Andromeda as the prize. No doubt Andromeda was the prize of some contest. A possible Indo-European derivation: ‘1. ner(-t)-‘, ‘vital force; man’, ‘1. dhregh-‘, ‘to run’, ‘3. mē-‘, ‘to measure’. But Andromeda is supposed to be from Ethiopia and could be a foreign name.
  • Adraste – probably related to Adrastos from ad +rastos which means to backward and come from the Indo-European ad – (to)+ wer-3 (to turn,bend)
  • Agaue — Ἀγαύη — ‘leader’ from Indo-European ‘ag̑-‘, ‘to lead, drive, agitate’
  • Alcippe — From the Greek Αλκιππη (Alkippe), which meant “mighty mare” from αλκαιος (alkaios) “mighty” from alek- to ward off, an Indo-European word, and ‘ιππος (hippos) “horse” from ‘ekwo-‘, ‘horse’ is Indo-european.
  • Phylo — probably Philo φιλεω (phileo) “to love”. This is derived from bhilo- Friendly, loving, and is Indo-European.
  • Clytemnestra — This name seems to have Indo-European roots in "kleu-" to hear "tem-" to cut. If the name means famous cutter then it is a name that applies to what she did to Agamemnon.
  • Iphigenia — strong born from perhaps Indo-European yegwa-, ‘power’ and ‘gene-‘, ‘beget’
  • Ἰοκάστη — Jocasta — ‘telling star’ from Indo-European ‘i̯ek-‘, ‘to speak’ and ‘2. stē̆r-‘, ‘star’.>
  • Πηυελόπεια — Penelope — from Indo-European ‘pā̆n-‘, ‘woven fabric’ and ‘1: op-‘, ‘to work, perform, bring about’ A less likely possibility is ‘spen-‘, ‘to draw, stretch, spin’ and ‘leup-‘, ‘ to peal off, breakoff’. This name may have been given to her because of the trick she pulled on the suitors.
  • Ἀραχνη — Arachne — ‘spiders web’ from Indo-European ‘ar-‘, ‘fit together’ and ‘ank’, ‘To bend’.
  • Αριαδυη — Ariadne — ‘Snake goddess’ from Indo-European ‘aryo’, ‘Lord, ruler’ and ‘angwhi’, ‘Snake, eel’
  • Πασιφαη — Pasiphae — ‘all shining’ related to Greek ‘παν-‘, ‘all’ and ‘φᾰέθω’, ‘shine’ from Indo-European and ‘keu-3’, ‘To swell, vault, hole’ and ‘bheigw’, ‘to shine’ Note that ‘πας’ also means all in Greek but the only I-E root is the one indicated.
  • Ino — Ἰνώ — ‘shining one’ from Indo-European ‘2. nei-, neiə-, nī-‘, ‘to be moved, excited; to shine’
  • Κασσάνδρα — Cassandra — ‘she who entangles men’ from Indo-European ‘kwet-‘, ‘To shake’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘Man’
  • Ἰτέῐνης orἸτωνη(?sp)– Itone — ‘willow tree(goddess)’ from Indo-European ‘wel-3’, ‘To turn, roll’ and ‘nei-‘ , ‘to be excited, shine’
  • Κῠνίσκη — Cynisca — ‘puppy’ from Indo-European ‘kwon-‘, ‘Dog’, ‘yeu-2’, ‘young’, and ‘ka-‘, ‘To like, desire’
  • Attic Greek Σαπφώ IPA: [sapːʰɔː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω [psapːʰɔː]) — Sappho — ‘perceptive brightness’ from Indo-European ‘sap-‘, ‘To taste, perceive’ and ‘bheigw-‘, ‘To shine’
  • Eurynoe — ‘broad backside’ — From Indo-European ‘u̯er-‘, ‘wide, broad’ and ‘nōt-‘, ‘rump, backside’
  • Thyone — inspired frenzy — ‘4. dheu-, dheu̯ə-, presumably dhu̯ē-, compare suffixes dhu̯ē-k-, dhu̯ē̆-s-‘, ‘to blow, dissipate, fly about like dust, etc.’ and ‘2. nei-, neiə-, nī- ‘to be moved, excited; to shine”

Names of Ancient Greek Men

  • Ἀγαμέμνων– Agamemnon — This name is commonly translated “very resolute”. This is derived from the Greek prefix ‘ἀγα-‘, ‘Very’ and ‘Μέμνων’, ‘the Steadfast or Resolute’. Memnon is the name of a soldier who fought on the side of Troy. It is odd that The name of the commander of the Achaean forces uses his name. A derivation from the older Indo-European may have a different meaning. If Aga relates to ‘agro-‘, ‘Field, place where cattle are driven’ and memnon is related to ‘men-1’, ‘To think’ then the name might mean ‘driven to memories’ or ‘maker of stories’. This might fit his role in myth better.
  • Ajax — Αἴᾱς — ‘Wished for’, from Indo-European ‘3. u̯ei-, u̯eiə- : u̯ī-‘, ‘to wish, pursue, go for, reach towards; strong, violent’. In Sophocles Ajax the name is fancifully derived from ‘αἰαῖ’ which relates to grief.
  • Αἰνείας — Aeneas — ‘praiseworthy’ from Indo-European ‘5. ai- : oi-‘, ‘oath, significant speech’ and ‘1. neu-‘, ‘to call, praise’ defined in Hymn to Aphrodite line 196.
  • Polyneices — ‘abundant death’ is from Indo-European ‘pel-8’, ‘To fill, be abundant’ and ‘nak-‘, ‘Death’.
  • Eteolcles — ‘famous for causing’ from Indo European ‘ai-1’, ‘to give, allot’ and ‘kleu-1, ‘to hear’
  • Odysseus — In Book XIX of the Odyssey the meaning of this name is given as “a man of wrath”. The suggestion is that this name comes from the Indo-European ‘od-2, ‘To hate’; ‘yes-‘, ‘To boil, foam, bubble’; and ‘seu’, ‘To seathe, boil’.
  • Κάδμος — Cadmus — “Students of the Semitic languages derive the name Kadmos from the root *kadm- which means “forward”, “before”, “east”. But an Indo-European interpretation kā- ‘to like, wish, desire’ and ‘mō-, mo-lo-‘, ‘to strain, trouble oneself’ is consistent with Hesiod when he describes him as high-spirited (Theogony, line 934).

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Catalogs of Ancient Greek Women


Questions and Answers


One thought on “Catalogs of Ancient Greek Women”

  1. I find “iphimedeia” in The Greek Myths by Robert Graves defined as, “she who strengthens the genitals.” Can you elucidate?

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Including Amazons, Goddesses, Nymphs, and Archaic Females from Mycenaen and Minoan Cultures