The trireme

Athenian trireme names

Classified lists

Triremes named after heroines & goddesses

Pandora: she to whom all gifts were given (by the gods). This would be a good name if you didn't know the rest of her story!

Olympias: the Olympian (female) - chosen of course for the reconstructed trieres, now a serving ship of the Hellenic navy

Phosphoros : bringer of light - referring probably to Eos, goddess of the Dawn, although the same word was later applied to the Morning Star (planet Venus)

Hebe: goddess of Youth, married to Heracles after his apotheosis

Kytheria: the Cytherean - that is Aphrodite, from her possible birthplace on the island of Cythera.

Asklepias: the daughter of Asclepios, god of healing

Akhilleia: the Achillean. Trying to bend the rules by naming his ship after Achilles.

Amphitrite : wife of Poseidon, a pretty obvious one

Seiren: The Siren, named for the creatures who tried to lure Odysseus on to the rocks in the Odyssey

Triaina: Trident. Now a guided missile, but originally the symbol of Poseidon's power.

Hephaistia: the Hephaestean. Named for Hephaestus, god of fire, and patron of the workers.

Nereis: Nereid. Daughter of Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea. Thetis, mother of Achilles was the most famous of them

Parthenos: The Virgin - nothing to do with Richard Branson; this ship was dedicated to Athena, the Virgin Goddess

Europa and the Bull - though she was nothing to do with the continent of Europe!Aphrodisia: belonging to Aphrodite: but the sailors will have seen the name as neuter plural rather than feminine singular: ta aphrodisia was a common euphemism for sex.

Aianteia: Ajax's own. Compare Akhilleia above - a way to get a masculine flavour while still keeping the name feminine.

Thetis: The Thetis - still the name of a warship in the Royal Navy.

Tritogenes: another name for Athena - no one even in the 4th century BC knew what it meant.

Europe: Named for Minos' sister who rode on the bull's back - not EU sponsored!

Kekropis: daughter of Kekrops - the legendary founder of Athens. Also the name of one of the 10 tribes (electoral constituencies) in Athens.

Euia : devotee of Bacchus - a Maenad, wild uninhibited worshipper of Dionysus.

Pandia: "all divine"

Triremes named after places

Hellas : Greece - not a political concept at the time, more an abstract idea

Aithiopia: the African Queen (? as in the movie). Word literally means "burnt- faced", the usual Greek term for Black.

Salaminia: The Girl from Salamis - the island opposite the Peiraeus, scene of the great victory over the Persians in 480 BC [the last time anything eventful happened there - a fisherman I spoke to in 1989 talking about the battle made it sound like something which happened maybe a generation or so ago] According to Aristophanes' Lysistrata, girls from Salamis were renowned for their easy virtue.

Delias : The Girl from Delos - tiny island sacred to Apollo, which had housed the anti-Persian war chest [funds of the Delian Leaugue] until transferred to Athens for "safe keeping"

Delphis: The Girl from Delphi - site of Apollo's oracle in central Greece. Or it could mean "The Dolphin" - an equally suitable name, with associations with Dionysus.

Nemeas: the Girl from Nemea - associated with a monstrous lion killed by Herakles, a temple of Zeus, and the Nemean Games.

Doris: Dorian Girl - would have seemed a strange name to earlier generations of Athenian, for who the Dorian Spartans were enemies.

Eleusis : the small town west of Athens, home of the "Mysteries" - a secret rite observed annually in honour of Demeter and Persephone.

Pallenis : Girl from Pallene, an Attic village (deme). Only deme to have a trieres named after it.

Ionike : The Ionian - the Athenians regarded themselves as the leaders of the Ionian Greeks (as Sparta did of the Dorians)

Triremes named after animals or objects

Melitta : "The Bee"

Delphis : the Dolphin (or the Girl from Delphi - see above)

Panthera: Leopard

Lykaina : She-wolf

Salpinx : "The Trumpet"Synoris? How manmy horses?

Sobe: "The Horse's Tail" (?)

Sphendone: "The Sling" (weapon)

Synoris : "Pair of Horses"

Peristera - "The Dove" (not an image of peace in Greek culture)

Triremes named after abstract ideas

Philotimia : "Ambition". Word used for rivalry between politicians and others - not incompatible, however with...

Eleutheria: "Freedom". One of the key words of the Athenian democracy.

Euphemia: "Silence"

Euporia: "Plenty"

Pronoia: "Foresight"

Boetheia: "Help" [in sense of reinforcement]

Aktis: "Sunbeam"

Aura : "Breeze"

Gnome :"Intelligence"

Dikaiosyne: "Justice"

Hegemone: "Leadership"

Demokratia: "Democracy"

Nike: "Victory" (like Nelson's flagship) - and various combinations: Aristonike: Victory for the best. Kleonike - famous in victory. Polynike: much victorious. Axionike - worthy of victory. Pasinike - Victory for all; Agathonike : glorious in victory; Stratonike - victory for the army; Kallenike (sic) - Beautiful in victory; Polemonike - Victorious in War; Nikariste - best victory; Nausinike - Victory in Ships

Homonoia :"Harmony" - now the name of the busiest square in Athens

Apobasis: landing, disembarkation. Something to look forward to as a rower!

Eudaimonia: "Happiness"

Symmachia: The Alliance

Epideixis : Show, Display [as a part of philotimia - Athenians were not ashamed to flaunt their wealth, if they had it]

Andreia : "Courage"

Eukarpia: "Fruitfulness"

Hygieia : "Health"

Dynamis: "Power"


Parrhesia : "Free Speech"

Hegemonia: "Leadership"

Doxa: "Glory"

Eutychia: "Good luck"

Parataxis: being a buddy - fighting alongside

Eunoia: "Loyalty"

Strategis: "Generalship"

Theoris : "Sacred Mission"

Eueteria: "Prosperity"

Anysis: "Achievement"

Syntaxis : fighting together

Descriptive names

Okeia - swift

Takheia - quick

Ariste - best

Potone - winged (?)

Stilbousa - glittering

Paralia - from the coast

Euphrainousa - joyful

Petomene - flying

Stephanousa - crowning

Kallixena - Beautiful Stranger

Eucharis - Charming

Soizousa - Saving

Nikosa - Winning

Kratousa - Conquering

Hippia - Horsey

Gnoste - Famous

Thera - Beast

Panoplia - Armed to the teeth

Ephebos - Young man [the only masculine name I came across] - an ephebe was a youth between 18 and 22 performing compulsory military service.

Askousa - Exercising

Euploia - Plain sailing

Prote - first

Phanera - clear, obvious

Hedeia - "Sweetie"

Stephanephoria - wearing the crown

Hipparche - "Mistress of the Horse"

Proplous - leading ship

Kouphotate - "Light as a feather"

Hikane - "Up for it"

Hippegos - "Commander of the Horse"

Agreuousa : "Huntress"

Leontis - Lioness - but also the name of an Athenian tribe (see Kekropis)

Kratiste - "The Greatest"

Stephanoumene - "wearing the crown" (crown was of course a symbol of victory, not royalty!)

Erythreia - Red

Leuke - White

Ortheia - direct, straight

Iousa - "The Goer"

Megiste - the Greatest

Tryphousa (sic) - "Miss Fussy"

Nea - new

Aglaia - Spendid

Prepousa - "Miss Nice"

Hiera - holy

Naukratousa - winning at sea

Paidothera - Scouting for boys (?)

Epipedosa - leaping in.

Epione : Miss Gentle

Anthera - flowery


And two verbs!

Hegeso : Lead the way! (Aorist imperative: also occurs as a girl's name on the well-known stele)

Nikeso : I shall win