English spelling of Classical Greek names varies, since English has sometimes used the Latin version and has sometimes followed the Greek (not always represented the same way in Latin letters). The most common such difference is final Greek -os as against Latin/English -us. The spellings here are in reasonably general use.
I have thrown in the Greek spellings for readers figuring to join sororities and fraternities and therefore needing to learn Greek letters, and I have added rough approximations to the usual English pronunciations of most names. The pronunciations are for the most part based on Catherine B. Avery’s The New Century Classical Handbook (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962). Their “phonetic” spellings are my own inventions. (The Greek "hard breathing" sign, corresponding to the English letter H, is almost invisible on computer typefonts. In this list an initial apostrophe has been used instead. Thus ͑Ελενη or ̔Ελενη becomes 'Ελενη. 'Ελενη is technically wrong, but the mark is visible.)
In most cases the father of a character is here noted. This is because Homer sometimes called his characters by their patronymics. A patronymic (for example Atreides, “children of Atreus”) was formed from the root of the father’s name (Atre-us) plus the ending -tes or -ides for men, -is for women. For Homer’s audience, kinship was an important part of the story. Reader-friendly translators suppress these, but translators seeking to be closer to the original retain them.
Part I: Greeks (Achaeans)
Achilles (Αχιλλευς) [uh-KILL-ease]. Son of Peleus & the nymph Thetis. Ruler of the Myrmidons from Thessaly. (More)
Agamemnon (Αγαμεμνων) [ag-uh-MEM-non]. King of Mycenae; elder brother of Menelaus; commander of the Greek forces at Troy.
Agememnon & Menelaus are collectively called Atreidae (singular: Atreides), meaning “sons of Atreus.”
Ajax (Αιας) [AY-jacks]. (1) (Great Ajax) (More) Son of Telamon (the brother of Peleus, Achilles’ father); king of Salamis. Ajax was a bit dim, but was considered the bravest of the Greeks (after Achilles), and was a great admirer of Achilles. Because of his father’s name, he is sometimes called Telamonian Ajax. Tradition holds that he committed suicide when he did not receive the armor of the dead Achilles.
Ajax (Αιας) [AY-jacks]. (2) (Lesser Ajax) (More) “The Runner,” son of Oileus; leader of the Locrians. Ajax, although small was a formidable fighter, the best lancer the Greeks had, and the fastest runner after Achilles himself, but tended to get on people’s nerves. When Troy was eventually sacked, Ajax raped Cassandra on the altar of Athena, infuriating the goddess, who obliterated Ajax and his whole fleet en route back to Greece.
Antilochos (Αντιλοχος) [an-TILL-uh-cuss]. Son of Nestor, brother of Thrasymedes.
Atreides [ay-TREE-uh-deze]. “Son of Atreus,” hence either Agamemnon or Menelaus.
Atreus (Ατρευς) [A-tree-us]. Father of Agamemnon & Menelaus.
Automedon (Αυτομεδων) [aw-TOM-uh-don]. Son of Diores; squire & charioteer of Achilles, lent to Patroclus.
Balius (Βάλιος) and Xanthus (Ξάνθος). Two immortal talking horses belonging to Achilles. They may have been fathered by the West Wind or the may have been fathered by Zeus (always a suspect when fathers were uncertain). They were given to Achilles father Peleus as a wedding present and were passed on to Achilles and drew his chariot at Troy.
Diomedes (Διομηδης) [die-uh-MEDE-e(z)e]. Son of Tydeus; king of Argos. Sometimes called Tydeides (= “son of Tydeus”). (Keep an eye on him; he is the dramatic counterpoint to Achilles.) (Caution: For most translators, this name has a final -s in English, just as it has in Greek, but a few, confusingly, leave it off. A female Diomede, whose name does not have the -s [Διομηδη], makes a brief appearance at the end of Book 9. Another famous Diomedes, not in the Iliad, was a Thracian owner of man-eating horses, whose capture was the eighth labor of Hercules, which is another whole story.)
Eurypylus (Ευρυπυλος) [you-RIP-pill-us]. Son of Euaemon ; leader of the Thessalians.
Helen ( 'Ελενη) [HELL-un]. Daughter of Zeus by Leda, whom he impregnated when appearing to her in the form of a swan (a scene captured in countless slightly silly paintings for the last several centuries); step-daughter of Tyndareus; sister of Castor & Polydeuces (& Clytemnestra); wife of Menelaus of Sparta, but ran away with Paris to Troy as his wife; sometimes referred to as “the face that launched a thousand ships” because she was the cause (pretext) for the Trojan War.
Homer ('Ομηρος) [HO-mer]. The putative author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Idomeneus (Ιδομενευς) [eye-DOMM-uh-nuss]. Son of Deucalion; king of Crete.
Iphigenia (Ιφιγενεια) [if-i-jen-EYE-ah]. Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, sacrificed in order to have the Greek forces released to attack Troy.
Kalchas (Καλχας) [KAL-cuss]. Son of Thestor; chief seer of the Greek expedition.
Machaon (Μαχαων) [muh-KA-yun]. Son of Asclepius, the famous physician. He serves with his brother Podaleirios as a physician for the Greeks.
Menelaus (Μενελαος) [men-un-LAY-us]. Son of Atreus; king of Sparta (= Lacedaemon); younger brother of Agamemnon; husband of Helen.
Menestheus [men-NESS-thus]. Son of Peteos; prince of Athens.
Meriones (Μηριονης) [mey-REE-oh-neze]. Son of Molus; nephew & squire of Idomeneus and a one-time suitor of Helen, a warrior famed for his elegant dancing.
Nestor (Νεστωρ) [NESS-ter]. Son of Neleus; king of Pylos; oldest of the Greek leaders at Troy.
Odysseus (Οδυσσευς) [oh-DISS-ee-us]. Son of Laertes & Anticleia; king of Ithaca; hero of Homer’s Odyssey. (In Latin and subsequently in English he is often known as Ulysses.)
Patroclus (Πατροκλος) [pah-TRO-kluss]. Son of Menoetius of Opus. He accidentally slew a friend over a game and fled to the court of his uncle Peleus, Achilles’ father, where he became the inseparable friend of Achilles.
Phoenix (Φοινιξ) [FEE-nix]. Son of Amyntor; king of the Dolopes; friend & tutor of Achilles.
Sthenelus (Σθενελος) [STHEN-uh-luss]. Son of Capaneus; squire to Diomede.
Talthybius (Ταλθυβιος) [tal-THIBB-ee-us]. Chief herald to Agamemnon.
Teucer (Τευκρος) [TYOO-sir]. Son of Telamon; half-brother to Ajax (1); the best bowman among the Greeks.
Thersites (Θερσιτης) [ther-SITE-eze]. An irreverent Greek soldier, the most ugly & despised of the Greeks, executed by Achilles for sneering. (May be used on campus as a deadly insult hurled under extreme provocation.)
Tlepolemus [tlep-PAHL-uh-muss]. Son of Heracles & Astyocheia living in Rhodes.
Tydeides (Τυδεϊδης) [tie-DIE-uh-deze]. “Son of Tydeus.” See Diomede.
Aeneas (Αινειας) [uh-NEE-us]. Son of the goddess Aphrodite & the mortal Anchises [an-KIE-ses]; a Trojan noble second-in-command to Hector. Hero of Virgil’s Aeneid, where, have escaped from burning Troy, he sails to Italy and becomes the ancestor of the Romans, who can see themselves as the new Trojans.
Andromache (Ανδρομαχη) [an-DRAW-muh-key]. Daughter of Eëtion, king of Thebes in Cecelia, whom Achilles had defeated several years before; wife of Hector; mother of Astyanax (Scamandrius). Her long and complex life before, during, and after the Trojan war provides the subject matter for Euripides’ play named after her.
Antenor (Αντηνωρ) [an-TEE-nor]. A Trojan noble, Priam’s brother-in-law, who advised the Trojans to return Helen, and hence was condemned as a traitor by later tradition. He served as Priam’s groom.
Astyanax (Αστυαναξ) [ass-TIE-uh-nacks]. See Scamandrius .
Briseis (Βρισηις) [bree-SEE-us]. Daughter of Brises of Lyrnessus, taken captive by Achilles when he helped sack the place, but subsequently seized by Agamemnon to replace Chryseis.
Cassandra (Κασσανδρα) [kah-SAND-ruh]. Daughter of Priam & Hecuba; a prophetess, she rebuffed amorous advances by Apollo, who doomed her to having her prophecies ignored, a fate she should have foreseen.
Chryseis (Χρυσηις) [cry-SEE-us]. Daughter of Chryses, the priest of Apollo at Chryse near Troy. (That is more confusing than necessary, but fortunately it goes away after Book 1.) She was captured in a raid by Achilles but allotted to Agamemnon, who was forced to return her to her father.
Dardanus (Δαρδανος) [DAR-dann-us]. An illegitimate son of Zeus, honored as the ancestors of the Trojans
Deiphobos (Δηιφοβος) [dee-IF-uh-bus]. Son of Priam & Hecuba; prince of Troy.
Dolon (Δολων) [DOE-lone]. Son of Eumedes; the man who agreed to spy on the Greeks in exchange for the promise of Achilles' chariot and horses, should they be captured.
Ganymede (Γανυμηδος) [GAN-ee-meed]. An extremely handsome early Trojan prince abducted by Zeus to serve as the latter’s cup bearer, inciting Hera’s wrath.
Glaucus (Γλαυκος) [GLAW-cuss]. Son of Hippolochus; a Lycian prince.
Hecuba ('Εκαβη) [HECK-you-ba]. Daughter of Dymas; consort of Priam; mother of Hector, Helenus, & Deïphobos.
Hector ( 'Εκτωρ) [HECK-tor]. Son of Priam & Hecuba; prince of Troy; commander of the Trojans & their allies. (Hector plays the role of Priam’s eldest son, but it seems likely that Paris was actually older by some 15 or 20 years. Food for thought: Did Homer invent Hector because Paris was too wimpy to be an adequate adversary for Achilles?) This is the origin of the English verb, “to hector,” meaning to swagger or to bully or intimidate someone. Keep an eye on whether that is a fair characterization of how Hector actually behaves.
Helenus ( 'Ελενος) [HELL-uh-nuss]. Son of Priam & Hecuba; twin of Cassandra; prince of Troy.
Idaeus (Ιδαιος) [EYE-dee-us]. Son of Priam and his chief herald.
Laocoön (Λαοκοων) [lay-AH-ko-un]. A Trojan elder who suspected that the Trojan Horse might be full of Greeks and tried to warn his fellow citizens, only to be destroyed by sea serpents.
Lycaon (Λυκαων) [lye-KAY-on]. Son of Priam and prince of Troy.
Pandarus (Πανδαρος) [PAN-dah-rus]. Son of Lycaon; Lycian commander, bowman who shot at Menelaus and broke the peace.
Paris (Παρις) [PAIR-us]. Son of Priam & Hecuba; prince of Troy; the putative cause of the war through his abduction of Helen. Sometimes named Alexandros. See Hector.
Polydamas (Πολυδαμας) [pole-LID-uh-muss]. Son of Panthoös; a Trojan leader, though a commoner; counselor to Hector.
Polydorus (Πολυδωρος) [polly-DOOR-us]. Son of Priam and prince of Troy
Priam (Πριαμος) [PRY-am]. Son of Laomedon & descendant of Dardanos, a son of Zeus; king of Troy.
Sarpedon (Σαρπηδων) [sahr-PEE-don]. Son of Zeus & Laodameia, the daughter of Bellerophon; king of Lycia.
Scamandrius (Σκαμανδριος) [ska-MAN-dree-us]. The infant son of Hector, called by the Trojans Astyanax, meaning “King of the City.” Presumably named after the Scamandros river, near Troy.
Aphrodite (Αφροδιτη) [af-roe-DIE-tee]. Daughter of Zeus & Dione (a Titaness); goddess of love and sex (in all forms); partisan to the Trojans in gratitude to Paris & as mother of Aeneas. Her name seems to be cognate with afros (αφρος), "sea foam," and in art she is often represented in association with the foaming waves. (Perhaps growing from this etymology, an alternative myth says that when the god Uranus was castrated his semen mixed with the sea and produced Aphrodite. Go figure.)
Apollo (Απολλων) [uh-PALL-oh]. Son of Zeus & Leto; god of prophecy, poetry, music, & archery & protector of herds; partisan of the Trojans. Also called Phoebus or Phoebus Apollo. He was a god both of medicine and of plagues. Men’s deaths by disease were attributed to his darts, while Artemis was responsible for women’s deaths by disease.
Ares (Αρης) [AIR-eze]. Son of Zeus & Hera; the god of war; father of the Amazons.
Artemis (Αρτεμις) [ART-uh-miss]. Daughter of Zeus & Leto; sister of Apollo; goddess of hunting & protectress of wild animals; partisan of the Trojans. Women’s deaths by disease were attributed to her darts, while men’s deaths by disease were attributed to Apollo.
Ate (Ατη) [ATE-tee]. Daughter of Zeus; personification of folly & infatuation.
Athena (Αφηνη) [uh-THEE-nuh]. Daughter of Zeus; goddess of wisdom; patroness of women’s arts & crafts; protectress of cities; partisan of the Greeks because she was offended by the Judgment of Paris. (Usually spelled Athena, but the spelling Athene is preferred by some translators as closer to the Greek.)
Cronos (Κρονος) [CROW-nos]. Father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, & Hera; ex-King of heaven, deposed by Zeus.
Demeter (Δημητηρ) [duh-ME-ter]. Cronos’ Daughter; goddess of grain & fruitfulness.
Dione (Διωνη) [die-OH-knee]. Mother of Aphrodite by Zeus.
Dionysus (Διονυσος) [die-uh-NIGH-sus]. Son of Zeus & Semele; god of wine (& beer & fraternity parties). Identified by the Romans with Bacchus, god of toga parties. (Caution: Dionysus, the party patron, is not to be confused with Dionysius, the name of various classical authors & tyrants, none of whom were much fun at parties. The Greek names varied in the stress/pitch as well as in the final vowel: Διόνυσος vs. Διονύσιος.)
Discord or Eris (Ερις) [EAR-iss]. Goddess of discord and sister of Ares, the war god. Eris literally means “discord,” and the goddess is a example of deifying an abstraction.
Hades (Άιδης) [HAY-deze]. Son of Cronos & Rhea; god of the dead after drawing the land of the dead as his share of the world. See Poseidon.
Hebe ('Ηβη) [HE-be]. Daughter of Zeus & Hera; cupbearer & handmaiden of the gods; goddess of youth.
Hephaestus ('Ηφαιστος) [heh-FEST-us]. Son of Zeus & Hera; master-smith & architect of Olympus; god of fire; partisan of the Greeks.
Hera ('Ηρη) [HEAR-uh]. Daughter of Cronos & Rhea; sister & consort of Zeus (whom she never liked very well); partisan of the Greeks because she was offended by the Judgment of Paris. She was worshipped as the goddess of marriage —not necessarily happy marriage, just marriage.
Hermes ('Ερμης) [HER-meeze]. Son of Zeus & Maia. Hermes’ name is probably related to herma ('ερμα), “boundary stone,” and he was associated with everything related to them, carrying messages as the ambassador of the gods; conducting of souls to the land of the dead, &c. He was worshipped by boundary-crossing travellers, including both legitimate merchants and smugglers and pirates. In art he is often shown with wings on his feet, and in Roman times his cult was assimilated to Mercury (from merx, “merchandise”). (Box-like boundary stones often displayed his head on top and sometimes his male sex organs on the front.) Hermes was a partisan of the Greeks. Homer calls him by the title “the Helper.”
Iris (Ιρις) [EYE-riss]. Identified with the rainbow; a messenger of the gods.
Leto (Λητω) [LEE-toe]. Daughter of Cronos & Phoebe; mother of Apollo & Artemis by Zeus.
Persephone (Περσεφονη) [purse-SEFF-uh-knee]. Daughter of Demeter; consort of Hades, and hence queen of the dead.
Phoebus Apollo. See Apollo.
Poseidon (Ποσειδων) [po-SIDE-un]. Son of Cronos & Rhea; younger brother of Zeus; god of the sea & of earthquakes; partisan of the Greeks because he never did like Trojans very well. Poseidon received the sea as his domain when the three brothers, Zeus, Poseidon, & Hades, divided the world by lot among them. (However he is also associated with earthquakes and, strangely, horses, which has led some scholars to speculate that the famous Trojan horse was an earthquake metaphor gone viral.) Poseidon was represented in art carrying the trident. His formidable son, Triton, was the basis for a whole class of sea deities (the tritons) in later mythology, who were human from the waist up but fish from the waist down, and who went about blowing shell trumpets. (This is the same lore that makes a triton the UCSD athletic symbol, located as we are at the seaside, and explains why a shell trumpet is blown at Muir College graduations.)
Thetis (Θετις) [THEE-tus]. Daughter of Nereus; wife of the mortal king Peleus & mother of Achilles; a supporter of Achilles in particular rather than of Greeks in general.
Xanthus (Ξανθος) [ZAN-thus]. The god of the Xanthus (= Scamandros) river, one of the two major rivers of the Trojan plain. (The other was Simoeis, personified as Xanthus’ brother.) Son of Zeus. (Caution: Homer also applies the same name to another river, in Lycia, to one of Hector’s horses, & to one of Achilles’ horses.)
Zeus (Ζευς) [zoose]. Son of Cronos & Rhea; supreme Olympian deity; master of destiny. Zeus is officially neutral in the war, but supports Achilles in his feud with Agamemnon. Associated with weather and the sky, he has titles like "thunderer" and "cloud-gatherer" in Homer. In art he is often shown hurling a thunderbolt. As an all-powerful ally, he comes across in the Iliad as disappointingly flaky.