Old and New Worlds in Greek Onomastics

Old and New Worlds in Greek Onomastics

Old and New Worlds in Greek Onomastics


Greek onomastics, the study of names and naming practices, offers a unique window into the ancient world. Names not only reflect the culture and society of a particular time and place, but they also reveal connections between different civilizations. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Greek onomastics and discover the links between the old and new worlds.

The Significance of Names

1. Names as Cultural Markers

Names serve as cultural markers, reflecting the values, beliefs, and traditions of a society. Greek names, for example, often have mythological or religious connotations, highlighting the importance of mythology in ancient Greek culture. By studying Greek names, we can gain insights into the religious and cultural practices of the time.

2. Names as Historical Records

Names also serve as historical records, preserving the memory of individuals and events. Through the study of Greek onomastics, historians can uncover forgotten stories and shed light on the lives of ordinary people. Names provide a glimpse into the social and economic structures of ancient Greek society.

The Old and New Worlds

1. Greek Influence on Modern Names

The influence of ancient Greek culture can be seen in modern naming practices. Many names of Greek origin, such as Alexander, Sophia, and Nicholas, are still popular today. This demonstrates the enduring legacy of Greek civilization and its impact on the modern world.

2. Borrowed Names

On the other hand, Greek onomastics also reveals the borrowing of names from other cultures. The ancient Greeks adopted names from neighboring civilizations, such as Egypt and Persia, through trade and conquest. These borrowed names provide evidence of cultural exchange and the interconnectedness of ancient civilizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How were Greek names chosen?

Greek names were often chosen based on religious or mythological significance. Parents would select names that honored gods, goddesses, or heroes, believing that it would bring good fortune to their children.

2. What is the significance of patronymics in Greek names?

Patronymics, where a person’s name is derived from their father’s name, were common in ancient Greece. It served as a way to establish lineage and family connections.


Greek onomastics offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient world and its connections to the present. By studying names, we can uncover the cultural, historical, and social aspects of ancient Greek society. The old and new worlds are intricately linked through the names we bear, reminding us of the enduring legacy of Greek civilization.