Name of Greece
The name of Greece differs in Greece in comparison with the names used for the country in other languages and cultures, just like the names of the Greeks. The Greeks call the country Hellas or Ellada (Greek: Ελλάς, Ελλάδα) and its official name is Hellenic Republic. In English, however, the country is usually called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia (as used by the Romans) and literally means 'the land of the Greeks'.
The English name Greece and the similar adaptations in other languages derive from the Latin name Graecia, literally meaning 'the land of the Greeks', which was used by the Romans to denote the area of modern day Greece. Similarly, the Latin name of the nation was Graeci, from which the English name Greeks originates. These names in turn trace their origin from Graecus, the Latin adaptation of the Greek name Γραικός, which means 'Greek' but its etymology remains uncertain. It is unclear why the Romans called the country Graecia and its people Graeci. In Arabic "الإغريق" or "alegreek" is the name of the old Greeks, while the Greeks called their land Hellas and themselves Hellenes, and several speculations have been made. William Smith notes in the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography that people are frequently called by foreigners by a name different from their native one.
Aristotle was the first to use the name Graeci (Γραικοί) in Meteorology, saying that the area about Dodona and Achelous was inhabited by the Selli and a people formerly called Graeci, but at his time Hellenes. From this statement of Aristotle it is asserted that the name of Graeci was at one period widely spread in Epirus and the western coast of Greece in general, hence it became the one by which the Hellenes were known to the Italic peoples on the opposite side of the Ionian Sea. According to Hesiod, in his work Catalogue of Women, Graecus was the son of Pandora and Zeus; he gave his name to the people who followed the Hellenic customs, while his brother Latinus gave his name to the Latins. In Ethnica, Stephanus of Byzantium also states that from Graecus, the son of Thessalus, the Hellenes derived the name of Graeci.
List of names in other languages
In these languages, the name of Greece has a common "gr" initial. The root of all of these was Graecus in Latin, and was also the ancient name that the Romans used for the Greeks: Greek=Eλλάδα Italian=Grecia
The third root is "hl", used by a few languages around the world, including Greek:
In the Chechen language, the name is "Джелтимохк" ("Džieltimohk")
- Aristotle, Meteorology, online in the University of Adelaida Library
- Hesiod, Catalogue of Women, online in the Online Medieval & Classical Library
- Stephanus. Meineke, Augustus, ed. Ethnica (in Greek) (1849 ed.). Reimer.
- Smith, William (1854). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography 1. Little, Brown and Co.
- Smith, William (1849). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 2. J. Walton.