Greece vs Hellas: The Semantics Behind the Country with Many Names

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Many names, one country: Greece. The Mediterranean land, which you might know as the birthplace of Democracy, a state in crisis, or a paradise on Earth because of its stunning beauty has had different names throughout its history.

Even today the country is known abroad as Greece, while the Greeks call themselves “Ellines” and their country Ellada or Hellas in English. The official name of the country is Hellenic Republic as it is written on Greek passports, however the ethnicity on the same documents is described as “Greek.”

We interviewed Katerina Zacharia, a professor of Classics and Archaeology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA to find out how the term Greece came to be the country’s international name as well as the semantics of the different names of the country throughout its long history. Watch the videos below:

Dr. Zacharia is a renowned speaker on the subject of Hellenism as well as the editor and major contributor for the book “Hellenisms: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity (Ashgate Variorum 2008).” She is also the author of “Converging Truths: Euripides’ Ion and the Athenian Quest for Self-Definition (Brill 2003)” is a Professor of Classics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. degree in Psychology and Philosophy and minor in Pedagogy, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from University College London.