(All dates BCE unless otherwise stated.)

AESCHYLUS   c.525–456, Athenian tragedian, said to have written ninety plays, seven surviving (or six, if Prometheus Bound is not his)

AGAMEMNON   King of Mycenae, commander-in-chief of the Greek expedition against Troy, represented ambivalently by Homer; his murder forms the subject of first play in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, 458

AGESILAUS II   co-king of Sparta c.400–360, for a time one of the most powerful figures in mainland Greece but presided over Sparta’s decline and fall

ALCIBIADES   c.450–404, ward of Pericles and most brilliant if most wayward of his successors, disgraced by treachery, rehabilitated, disgraced again

ALEXANDER THE GREAT   born 356, pupil of Aristotle c.343, reigned 336–323; assumed father Philip II’s role and completed conquest of Persian empire before early death at Babylon prevented consolidation of a new imperial system

ANAXIMANDER   c. first half sixth century, Milesian natural philosopher in line of Thales, conceived of universe as a cosmos in balance

ANTALCIDAS   Spartan general and diplomat, eponym of Peace with Persia in 386 (see Glossary, King’s Peace)

ANTIPHON   Athenian oligarchic politician, rhetorician, and perhaps philosopher, mastermind of 411 anti-democratic coup but executed for treason

APOLLO   twin of Artemis, especially associated with Delphi and music (and other arts); divine patron of colonization

ARCHIMEDES   c.287–212, inventor, especially mathematical, and astronomer, died fighting Romans in defence of his native Syracuse

ARISTIDES   c.525–467, Athenian nicknamed ‘the Just’, because famed for the equity of his original assessment (478/7) of tribute in cash or kind for allies of Athens in Delian League

ARISTOPHANES   c.445–385, author of over forty comedies, eleven extant, both master of political Old Comedy (e.g. Birds, 414) and inaugurator of Middle Comedy of manners (e.g. Wealth, 388)

ARISTOTLE   384–322, originally of Stageira (north Greece), son of court physician to Philip of Mace-don’s father, pupil of Plato, teacher of Alexander, founded own Lyceum School c.335; some 500 titles known, thirty treatises extant, especially biological, zoological and political (esp. Politics)

ARTEMIS   twin of Apollo, goddess of hunting and wild nature, associated with transition from girlhood to womanhood

ASPASIA   of Miletus, but famous or notorious for being partner of Pericles, whom she was forbidden to marry by Pericles’s own Athenian citizenship law of 451; had son with Pericles also called Pericles, who was made a special grant of citizenship following the deaths in the Great Plague of Pericles’s two Athenian sons by his only legal marriage

ATHENA   Olympian goddess daughter of Zeus, who gave birth to her through his cranium; associated especially with war and crafts; patron deity of both Athens and Sparta

BACCHYLIDES   c.510–450, of Ceos, relative of Simonides, lyric poet of victory odes and dithyrambs (see Glossary)

CALLICRATES   co-architect of Parthenon, also worked on Nike (Victory) temple on Athenian acropolis

CALLIMACHUS   third century, scholar-poet originally from Cyrene, produced first catalogue of Alexandria Royal Library

CALLISTHENES   c.380–327, of Olynthus (destroyed by Philip 348), kinsman and co-author of Aristotle, official historian of Alexander, but executed by him for alleged treason

CHILON   mid-sixth century. Spartan ephor, sometimes included in lists of Seven Sages

CIMON   c.510–450, son of Miltiades of Marathon, Athenian politician and general, mainly responsible for early development of Delian League, fell out with Pericles over policy towards Persia (aggressive) and Sparta (pacific)

CLEISTHENES   Athenian aristocrat, c.565–505, maternal grandson of a tyrant of Sicyon, credited—or debited—with founding the Athenian democracy 508/7

CLEON   leading Athenian politician in succession to Pericles, cordially detested by Thucydides (whose exile he was probably responsible for) and savagely lampooned by Aristophanes (esp. in Knights, 424)

CLEOPATRA   69–30, Cleopatra VII, last of the Graeco-Macedonian Ptolemies to rule Egypt following Alexander’s conquest, defeated with Antony by Octavian/Augustus at Actium in 31, committed suicide

CRITIAS   c.460–403, older relative of Plato, leader of pro-Spartan junta of Thirty Tyrants, wrote works in praise of Sparta in both verse and prose

CROESUS   proverbially wealthy (‘rich as Croesus’) king of Lydia, reigned c.560–546, philhellenic ruler of Greek cities, including Ephesus (whose Artemis temple he adorned), defeated by Cyrus the Great

CYRUS THE GREAT   Cyrus II, Great King of Persia c.550–529, founder of Achaemenid Empire, liberator of Jews from Babylon

DARIUS I   Great King of Persia c.520–486, second founder of Achaemenid Empire, quelled Ionian Revolt 499–494 but failed at Marathon, 490

DEMOCRITUS   c.460–370, of Abdera, wrote ethical, mathematical, and musical treatises, but most famous for his ‘atomist’ theory of physical universe

DEMOSTHENES   384–322, Athenian politician and forensic orator of genius, led Athenian and Greek resistance to Philip and Alexander of Macedon, ultimately without success

DIONYSIUS I   tyrant of Syracuse 405–367, kept Greek Sicily free of Carthaginian control, patron of Plato, winner of crown for tragedy at Athens

DIONYSUS   god of illusion and ecstasy, especially through wine and drama

DRACO   floruit c.620, author of earliest Athenian laws, later—unfairly—believed to have been ‘written in blood’, i.e. to stipulate capital punishment for all or most defined crimes

EPAMINONDAS   died 362, Theban general and (Pythagorean) philosopher, most famous for defeating Sparta, 371 and 362, and enabling foundation of Messene and Megalopolis

EPHIALTES   assassinated 461, opponent of Cimon, principal author of democratic reforms of 462/1 maintained and developed by Pericles

ERATOSTHENES   c.275–195, like Callimachus originally from Cyrene but made his name at Alexandria, multi-talented chronographer, literary critic, and geographer

EUCLID   floruit 295 (reign of Ptolemy I) at Alexandria, mathematician and astronomer, his thirteen books of Elements (plane geometry, theory of numbers, stereometry) have remained foundational

EURIPIDES   c.485–406, tragedian, nineteen of whose c.80 attributed plays survive, much ridiculed by comic poets in lifetime but the most popular of the Big Three tragedians after his death, died at Pella, capital of Macedon, where he had written Bacchae

GELON   tyrant of Syracuse 485–478, defeated Carthaginian invasion at Himera, 480, allegedly on same day as battle of Salamis

GORGIAS   c.483–375, of Leontini on Sicily, one of four ‘ancient Sophists’, charmed Athenian Assembly 427, influential teacher and exponent of rhetoric

HARMODIUS   junior beloved of Aristogiton with whom he killed brother of Athenian tyrant Hippias; the pair were the first to receive official honorific statues in the Athenian Agora

HECATAEUS OF MILETUS   floruit c.500, politician and geographical historian, author of a Journey Round the World, to whom Herodotus was much indebted

HERA   sister-wife of Zeus, associated with human married life; patron deity of Argos

HERODOTUS   c.484–425, of Halicarnassus, historian, in exile became citizen of Thurii

HESIOD   floruit c.700, didactic poet, author of Works and Days and Theogony

HIERON I   tyrant of Syracuse 478–467, in succession to Gelon, defeated Etruscans at Cumae, 474, patron of Simonides and Pindar

HIPPIAS   (i) of Athens, tyrant 527–510 in succession to father Pisistratus; (ii) of Elis, later fifth century, ancient Sophist and polymath, e.g. credited with fixing date of first Olympiad

HIPPOCRATES OF COS   c.460–380, founder of medical school, attributed with sixty treatises comprising the ‘Hippocratic Corpus’

HIPPODAMUS   fifth century, of Miletus, townplanner and utopian political philosopher, redesigned Piraeus and designed new city of Rhodes on orthogonal ‘Hippodamian’ plan

HOMER   claimed as a native son by many Ionian cities, ‘blind Homer’ may or may not have flourished in the eighth century and been responsible for combining and developing long oral traditions into the two monumental epic poems that bear his name

ICTINUS   co-architect of Parthenon, also credited with Hall of Initiation at Eleusis and Apollo’s temple at Bassae

LEONIDAS I   co-king of Sparta, died heroically at Thermopylae 480

LYCURGUS   of Sparta, possibly mythical lawgiver credited with establishing all main components of Sparta’s military, social, and political regime, but laws were all unwritten

LYSANDER   died Haliartus 395, Spartan admiral, key player in Sparta’s Peloponnesian War victory, but clashed with former beloved Agesilaus over post-War policy

LYSIAS   son of Cephalus, an immigrant from Syracuse; one of the ten canonical ‘Attic Orators’ but a metic (see Glossary) never an Athenian citizen, despite active participation in democratic resistance to Thirty Tyrants (see Glossary)

LYSIPPUS   fourth century, of Sicyon, hugely prolific sculptor most famed for portraits of Alexander

MAUSOLUS   hellenized Carian, sub-satrap of Persian province of Caria 377–353/2, based on Greek Halicarnassus, where his sister-widow built for him the original Mausoleum embellished by leading Greek sculptors (see Scopas)

MENANDER   c.342–292, principal author of New Comedy, famed for super-realism of characterization, pupil of Theophrastus

MILTIADES   c.550–489, Athenian general whose strategy carried the Battle of Marathon, but earlier a tyrant in the Thracian Chersonese and vassal of Persia

MYRON   floruit mid-fifth century, Athenian sculptor in bronze best known for his Discus-thrower (Roman copies only survive)

NICIAS   c.470–413, hugely wealthy slave-owning Athenian politician and general, defeated and killed on expedition to Sicily proposed by Alcibiades that he had opposed

PARMENIDES   born c.515, of Elea in south Italy (hence ‘Eleatic’ School), expounded his monist philosophy in long hexameter poem

PAUSANIAS OF MAGNESIA   floruit 160s–170s CE, religious traveller and antiquarian author of ten-book Guide to Greece preserving much lore and fact about Classical Greece

PELOPIDAS   c.410–364, Theban politician and commander, especially of Sacred Band (see Glossary), worked closely with Epaminondas

PERICLES   c.495–429, Athenian democratic statesman, financial expert, and commander, hugely influential c.450–430, connected especially with imperial building programme

PHIDIAS   c.490–430, Athenian sculptor in bronze, marble, and wood embellished with gold and ivory, fashioned cult-statues of Zeus at Olympia and Athena Parthenos at Athens, perhaps responsible for entire sculptural programme of Parthenon, associate of Pericles, disgraced for alleged theft of gold meant for Athena’s statue

PHILIP II   ruled Macedon 359–336, conquered most of Greece, planned invasion of Persia but assassinated during daughter’s wedding

PHRYNICHUS   floruit c.510–476, pioneer Athenian tragedian, fined heavily for his play Capture of Miletus c.493 on the grounds that the Athenians found it too distressing

PINDAR   538–448, Theban praise-singer, author of four books of epinician (victory) odes for victors at Olympic, Pythian (Delphi), Isthmian, and Nemean Games

PISISTRATUS   floruit c.560–527, three times tyrant of Athens, longest 545–527, promoted lavish public works and Athenocentric cultural and religious programmes

PLATO   c.427–347, pupil and disciple of Socrates, founded Academy c.385, all known dialogues extant together with some probably falsely attributed

PLUTARCH   c.46–120 CE, of Chaeronea, author of over 200 works, of which the seventy-eight Moral Essays and fifty biographies (most of them paired Greek–Roman Lives) survive

POLYCLITUS   floruit mid-fifth century, of Argos, sculptor and fellow-pupil with Myron

PRAXITELES   floruit 370–330, Athenian sculptor in both marble and bronze, chiefly notorious for first nude Aphrodite cult-statue and liaison with prostitute Phryne (‘Toad’)

PROTAGORAS   c.490–420, of Abdera, ‘ancient Sophist’, wrote at least two treatises including On the Gods, in the preface of which he expressed agnosticism, possibly democratic in politics and author of first constitution for new city of Thurii c.445

PTOLEMY I   c.367/6–283/2, founder of Ptolemaic kingdom and dynasty of Egypt as ‘Successor’ of Alexander, probably founded Museum and Library at capital Alexandria, wrote apologetic history

PYTHAGORAS   floruit 530, originally of Samos but settled in exile at Croton, founder of quasi-religious community avoiding animal blood-sacrifice, preoccupied with number-theory and astronomy

PYTHEAS   late fourth century, of Massalia, explored waters of northern Europe, including circumnavigation of Britain, possibly as far as Iceland

SAPPHO   late seventh century, of Eresus on Lesbos, poet and perhaps pedagogue, her homoerotic lyrics have given us ‘Lesbian’

SCOPAS   floruit 370–330, of the marble island of Paros, noted for expressiveness of his sculpture, employed on Mausoleum

SIMONIDES   c.556–468, of Ceos, relative of Bacchylides, praise-singer most famous for epigrams, e.g. on Athenian dead at Marathon and Spartan dead at Thermopylae

SOCRATES   469–399, Athenian philosopher of unorthodox ethical and religious views and antidemocratic political outlook, satirized by Aristophanes in Clouds (423), convicted of impiety 399, never wrote a word of his philosophy

SOLON   floruit 594, Athenian poet-politician, chosen Archon to resolve grave crisis, passed laws that mostly superseded those of Draco

SOPHOCLES   c.496–406, Athenian tragedian and sometime politician, credited with 123 plays of which seven survive (the last, Oedipus at Colonus, produced posthumously)

THALES   c.625–547, of Miletus, natural philosopher and Sage, alleged to have predicted solar eclipse of 585

THEMISTOCLES   c.524–459, Athenian admiral and statesman, guiding spirit of Greek resistance to Persia 480–479, laid foundations of Athens’s naval power, ostracized c.471 and ended days as honoured pensioner of Persian Great King

THEOPHRASTUS   c.371–287, originally of Eresus, pupil and successor of Aristotle as head of Lyceum, founder of systematic botany, author of collections of laws and customs, and of Characters

THRASYBULUS   died 389, Athenian democratic statesman and admiral, leader of resistance to Thirty Tyrants (see Glossary)

THUCYDIDES   c.455–400, historian and general, exiled 424 for failing to preserve Amphipolis, wrote unfinished history of Atheno - (as p. xxviii) Peloponnesian War (431–411)

TIMOLEON   c.365–334, Corinthian, distinguished himself in Sicily for overthrowing the Syracusan tyranny and defeating a Carthaginian army

XENOPHON   c.428–354, Athenian, conservative pupil and disciple of Socrates, pro-Spartan, autobiographical soldier of fortune and writer of history, biography, ethics, romance, and technical treatises

XERXES   Persian Great King 486–465, son of Darius I whose project of Greek conquest he failed to complete.

ZEUS   chief of the Olympians (see Glossary), brother-husband of Hera, lord of the sky and wielder of the thunderbolt; author of innumerable erotic affairs.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!