THE HEROIC NAME ANTILOCHOS AS A PERSONAL NAME AMONGST THE GREEKS
This paper concerns the Greek heroic name Antilochos and examines its distribution as a personal name in the ancient Greek world, from the Archaic to the Roman Imperial period. The popularity of the name Antilochos as a personal name among the Greeks derives from the fact that in Homer and in later Greek epic tradition the hero Antilochos has many distinctive features that were highly appreciated by the Greeks. As a beloved son of Nestor, king of Pylos and the great hero of the Trojan Cycle, Antilochos is one of the bravest Achaean warriors who fought at Troy, and even lost his life trying to save his father. On the other hand, Antilochos, following the death of Patroklos, is also attested in tradition as a favorite and close companion of Achilles, the greatest hero of the Trojan War. At the funeral games that Achilles celebrated for Patroklos, Antilochos finished second in the chariot race “by his skill, not by the speed of his horses” (Il. XXIII 515), just as Nestor had advised him and also took part in the foot race. After Antilochos’ death, his shade, along with those of Achilles and Patroklos, was believed to have gone to the Black Sea island later known as Leuke (the White Island). These were all the reasons why the heroic name Antilochos could also be acceptable as a personal name and desirable in the choice of names given to children and was attested as such in all periods and in almost all parts of the Greek world.
The personal name Antilochos could sound to the Greeks as a good Panhellenic name, but also as a name attractive particularly to the Athenians and the Ionians. The popularity of the name amongst the Ionians can be best explained with possible Neleid associations and connections, because the aristocratic elites in the Ionian cities mainly claimed Neleid ancestry (ostensibly descendents of Neleus, the son of Poseidon and the father of Nestor). The name Antilochos is thus attested as a personal name in Athens from an early date. Later and especially in the Classical period, it was widespread in various parts (demes) of Attica. It is also attested by the Ionians of Asia Minor in the several cities of the region, especially in inscriptions dating from the Late Hellenistic to the Imperial periods. The personal name Antilochos, on the other hand, is well attested as a personal name in Thessaly because of the hero Antilochos’ associations with Achilles, the Thessalian national hero. Although not a Thessalian, the hero Antilochos could also be considered a Thessalian through his Neleid ancestry. There are many occurrences of the personal name Antilochos from other parts of the Greek world, but numerous attestations from the island of Rhodes, mostly from the Hellenistic period, attract special attention. It is, however, not uncommon for the name Antilochos, as the other personal ‘Neleid’ names (Nestor, Thrasymedes, Peisistratos), to be attested in a large number on the very island of Rhodes, as a large economic and trading centre of the Hellenistic world which maintained intensive economic and political relations with many Greek cities in a wide area of the Mediterranean basin.