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Graecians or Grecians in older language may also refer to the Ancient Greeks as a whole.

The Graecians (Graeki, Graii, Graeci; Greek Γραίοι, Γραίκοι), were an Ancient Greek tribe. Their name is the origin of the Latin (and English) name of the Greeks as a whole.

It is likely that the Graecians were among the first to colonize Italy (i.e. Magna Graecia) in the 8th century BC, so that they were the first Greeks with whom the Latins came into contact, who consequently adopted the name of Graeci by synecdoche as the name of the Hellenes.

Aristotle records that the Graecians were the inhabitants of Hellas (a region within Thessaly), who were also known as 'Hellenes'. In later times Graecians settled in the city of Dodoni in Epirus from where they went on to establish colonies in southern Italy.

In Italy they founded the new Hellenic colony of Naples (Νέα Πόλις "New City").


It is possible that, in spite of Aristotle's testimony of their Thessalian origin,[clarification needed] their name is derived from the toponym of Graia (Γραία), a city in Boeotia, according to Pausanias identical with Tanagra. According to Aristotle and to the Parian Chronicle the city was called Graia (Γραία, meaning "old", from the adjective γραῖα "old (feminine)"[1] ) simply because it was standing there before the Deluge and was considered as the oldest city in Greece.

Eponymous ancestor[edit]

The eponymous ancestor of the Graecians in Hesiod is called Graecus (Γραικός). According to Hesiod, he was the son of Pandora and brother of Latinus. Their mother Pandora (named after her grandmother Pandora), was the daughter of Deucalion and Pyrrha and sister of Hellen. Other sources have Graecus as the son of Thessalus.


  1. ^ The adjective derives ultimately from the PIE root *ǵerh2-/*ǵreh2-, "to grow old" via Proto-Greek *gera-/grau-iu. R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 285.

See also[edit]