Ancient Greek names

Here’s a question for any Classicists out there – how do you pronounce the Ancient Greek names Lycos, Nycteus and Epirus? This question was sent to me by Persephone Vandegrift, who is writing a play based on the Bacchae by Euripides and has added these new characters, who are associated with Pentheus and the story of his altercation with Dionysus, but isn’t sure how their names should be pronounced.

If you can help, you can contact Persephone at:

The strangeness of some of the questions received at Omniglot HQ never ceases to surprise me!

This entry was posted in Language.

10 Responses to Ancient Greek names

  1. TJ says:

    It would depend largely I guess on the original Greek version of the name and how it is written.
    for example, if “Lycos” is written as “ΛΥΚΟΣ (λυκος)” then I think the name would be pronounced like “leekos”
    There is one note about “EU” combination in Greek names. I don’t know how they are pronounced nowadays but in modern Greek it is pronounced as “EV” (Zeus which is said almost like Ziyos or Zoos by some readersis in fact Zevs)!

  2. BG says:

    The way we would pronounce it in my Ancient Greek Class:
    Lycos = Λυκος = [lykos]
    Nycteus = Nυκτευς = [nykteus]
    Epirus = Eπιρυς = [epirys]
    The epsilons in Nycteus and Epirus could be zetas but that would only change the pronounciation slightly.

  3. Aeneas says:

    Actually, Epirus is taken from Latin, which latinized the Greek Epiros.

  4. Aeneas says:

    Epirus is the latinized form of Epiros, the Greek word for “Mainland”, which corresponds roughly with modern-day Albania/Northern Greece. Also, in Ancient Greek, as opposed to modern Greek, the diphthongs “eu” and “au” were pronounced like their Latin counterparts. So Zeus would have sounded a bit like Deus in Latin.

  5. Cheri says:

    How to properly pronounce Minos (one of the judges of the Underworld) and Helios (Sun God)?

  6. Simon says:

    Cheri – Minos = me-no-s (pronouncing me and no as in English), and Helios = hay-lee-os

  7. Persephone says:

    Thanks so much TJ, BJ, Aeneas and Simon for your help, I didn’t know this ‘blog’ was here until I typed my name in google just to see what was there and found this link. I am so glad I did as now I can thank you properly for your input. The first reading of the play was successful and the pronounciations were not as difficult as I thought they would be! Thanks again.

  8. Josh says:


  9. elicia says:

    You say “lycos” would be “leekos”
    but isn’t the upsilon “y” supposed to be like an umlat, i.e., “oooh”?