Who Is Who in Greek Legend?

A Who's Who List of Greek Heroes from Greek Legend, Myth, and the Trojan War

When you're reading the literature and history of Ancient Greece, there are a few names that should be as familiar to you as Shakespeare, the Bible, Kennedy, or Hitler. Below you will find a list of such major names from legend for quick reference.

Related features on this site are listed beneath each description.

The first alphabetical group consists of heroes from before the Trojan War; then come Trojan War names beginning with Achilles. After the Trojan War heroes come the legendary non-humans.

Also see my ranking of the Top Heroes in Greek Mythology.

Peleus and Atalanta wrestling, black-figured hydria, ca. 550 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen
Peleus and Atalanta wrestling, black-figured hydria, ca. 550 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen. PD Courtesy of Bibi Saint-Pol at Wikipedia.

A rare item in Greek mythology - a woman hero. Atalanta was the lone woman on the quest for the Golden Fleece and the Calydonian Boar Hunt.

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Bellerophon, Pegasus, and the Chimera. Attic red-figure epinetron, c. 425-420 B.C.
Bellerophon, Pegasus, and the Chimera. Attic red-figure epinetron, c. 425-420 B.C. C.C. Marsyas Wikipedia.

Bellerophon was a Greek hero who rode on the winged horse Pegasus; killed the Chimera monster, and tried to fly Pegasus to Olympus.

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Cadmus

Library of Congress Annex Doors, showing people who contributed to writing, including Cadmus
Library of Congress Annex Doors, showing bronze relief sculptures of people who contributed to writing, including Cadmus. CC Flickr User takomabibelot

Cadmus was sent on a vain quest to find his sister Europa. He settled in Boeotia and founded the city of Thebes, instead.

Hercules and Cacus
Hercules and Cacus, by Baccia Bandinelli, 1525-34, in the Piazza della Signoria, Plazzo Vecchio, in Florence. CC Flickr User infollatus

Hercules or Heracles (Herakles) was a strong man and son of Zeus, who performed 12 labors; his nemesis was Hera.

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Jason, Medea, the Golden Fleece and the Serpent Guarding It.
Jason, Medea, the Golden Fleece and the Serpent Guarding It. Fragment of a sarcophagus. Luni marble, Roman artwork, second half of the 2nd century A.D. © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Jason was the Argonaut leader who captured the golden fleece and married the witch Medea.

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Perseus Followed by the Gorgons, by the Gorgon Painter c. 580 B.C. Louvre.
Perseus Followed by the Gorgons, by the Gorgon Painter c. 580 B.C. Louvre. Public Domain. Courtesy of Bibi Saint-Pol at Wikipedia.

Perseus was the Greek hero who decapitated Medusa; founded Mycenae. His biological father was Zeus who impregnated Perseus' mother Danae in a shower of gold.

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Theseus

Theseus and the Minotaur Mosaic
Theseus and the Minotaur Labyrinth Mosaic. Courtesy of Wikimedia

Theseus was the Athenian hero who volunteered to be one of the victims of the Minotaur. With the help of one of the Minotaur's half-sisters, Theseus put an end to the Minotaur and found his way out of the labyrinth, built by Daedalus (of wax-wings fame), in which the Minotaur had been hidden. Theseus reorganized the country of Attica.

Achilles Kills Trojan Prisoner Before Charun Armed With a Hammer.
Achilles Kills Trojan Prisoner Before Charun Armed With a Hammer. Side A from an Etruscan red-figure calyx-crater, end of the 4th century B.C. PD Bibi Saint-Pol. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Achilles is the quintessential Greek hero. During the Trojan War, Achilles was the Greek's best warrior; his nymph mother held him by his heel when she dipped him in the River Styx making him immortal everywhere but there.

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The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, with Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and two soldiers holding Iphigenia
The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, with Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and two soldiers holding Iphigenia. CC Flickr User virtusincertus

Agamemnon was a Mycenean king, the brother-in-law of the infamous Helen, and the leader of all the Greek forces who went to Troy (to fight the Trojan War) for the purpose of recovering Helen for her Greek husband, Menelaus.

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Continued From Page 1 of the Greek Legend Who's Who

Trojan War Heroes
Image ID: 1624208 The heroes of Troy. (1882). NYPL Digital Gallery

This group of names you should know from Greek myth and legend is in two parts for heroes, divided chronologically, with a third part for names that do not belong to legendary heroes. The first alphabetical group consists of heroes from before the Trojan War. These are on page one. Next come Trojan War names beginning with Achilles, some of which are on page one and some on this, page two. After the Trojan War heroes come the legendary non-humans. Also see my ranking of the Top Heroes in Greek Mythology.

Ajax
Ajax. Clipart.com

During the Trojan War, Ajax was the second best Greek warrior. When he was denied the honor of the armor of the dead Achilles, he tried to kill the Greek leaders but was driven mad, instead.

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Hector
Hector. Clipart.com

Hector was a son of King Priam of Troy and the best warrior of the Trojans in the Trojan War. He killed Patroclus and was killed by Achilles.

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Helen of Troy and Menelaus

Helen and Menelaus on at Attic red-figure crater from c. 540-440 B.C. at the Louvre.
Helen and Menelaus on at Attic red-figure crater, by the Menelaus Painter from c. 540-440 B.C. at the Louvre. Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.

Helen of Troy known as the face that launched a thousand ships for starting the Trojan War. Helen was married to King Menelaus of Sparta when Paris took her.

Homer

Homer
Homer. Clipart.com

The blind bard believed to have written at least one if not both of the Iliad and Odyssey.

Iliad

Set in the tenth year of the Trojan war the Iliad tells the story of Achilles' wrath. It ends with Achilles returning Hector's body.
Iliad Summary/Notes/Study Guides, Homeric Questions, Ghost StoriesHeroic Behavior, Quotes.

Odysseus
Odysseus. Clipart.com

Odysseus was the cunning Greek who devised the Trojan Horse; subject of the Odyssey.

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Odyssey

Odyssey The 10-year return voyage taken by Odysseus from the Trojan War to Ithaca.

Paris
Paris. Clipart.com

Paris (aka Alexander) was a Trojan prince who took Helen from Menelaus.

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Don't Stop Here! More Names to Know From Greek Legend on the Next Page =>

Achilles and Patroclus
Achilles and Patroclus. Clipart.com

Patroclus was responsible for Achilles' rejoining the battle of the Trojan War, at first by proxy and then for revenge. While Achilles was still refusing to fight for the Greeks, he let his friend Patroclus wear his armor and lead his troops. The Trojans, who thought Patroclus was Achilles, killed him. To avenge the death of Patroclus, Achilles rejoined the battle.

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Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse. Clipart.com

The Trojan Horse was a device conjured by Odysseus to get the Greek troops inside the Trojan Walls. The Trojans took the horse as a gift not knowing it was filled with warriors. After the Trojans welcomed the gift into their city, they celebrated what they thought was the departure of the Greeks, but while they slept, the Greeks poured forth from the horse's belly and destroyed Troy.

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Centaur. Clipart.com

Chiron or Cheiron was the kindly centaur who tutored heroes. Hercules accidentally killed him.

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Pegasus
Pegasus. Clipart.com

Pegasus is the winged flying horse that sprang from the neck of the Gorgon Medusa More »

Medusa
Medusa. Clipart.com

Medusa was a dreaded monster with snaky locks the sight of which turned men to stone More »

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Gill, N.S. "Who Is Who in Greek Legend?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/who-is-who-in-greek-legend-118993. Gill, N.S. (2017, June 17). Who Is Who in Greek Legend? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-is-who-in-greek-legend-118993 Gill, N.S. "Who Is Who in Greek Legend?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-is-who-in-greek-legend-118993 (accessed November 24, 2017).