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Names of the Greeks


The Greeks (Greek: Έλληνες) have been identified by many ethnonyms. The most common native ethnonym is "Hellen" (Ἕλλην), pl. "Hellenes" (Ἕλληνες); the name "Greeks" (Latin: "Graeci") was used by the Ancient Romans and gradually entered the European languages through its use in Latin. The mythological patriarch Hellen is the named progenitor of the Greek peoples; his descendants the Aeolians, Dorians, Achaeans and Ionians correspond to the main Greek tribes and to the main dialects spoken in Greece and Asia Minor (Anatolia). Among his descendants are also mentioned the Graeci and the Makedones.

The first Greek-speaking people, called Myceneans or Mycenean-Achaeans by historians, entered present-day Greece sometime in the Neolithic era or the Bronze Age. Homer refers to Achaeans as the dominant tribe during the Trojan war period usually dated to the 12th-11th centuries BC, using "Hellenes" to describe a relatively small tribe in Thessaly. The Dorians, an important Greek-speaking group appeared roughly at that time. According to the Greek tradition, the "Graeci" ("Greeks", Γραικοί, Graikoi) were renamed "Hellenes" probably with the establishment of the Great Amphictyonic League after the Trojan war.



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