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The first part of the article analyzes and classifi es nicknames of prominent Athenian politicians as read in ostraka. The author is matching his old principle, according to which nicknames were a) neutral, positive, negative; b) standing, situative, secondary. It becomes clear that situative negative nicknames prevail in ostraka, and their source, it seems, in a number of cases may have been invectives in comedy.

Further, the author turns to nicknames of demagogue politicians in the Late Classical period, and he notes that in the end of the 5th century B.C. there appear “professional” nicknames (such as Kleon “the Tanner”, Hyperbolos “the Lamp-maker”, etc.). They were often also generated by comedy as satiric epithets.

In the conclusion it is noted that in general nicknames were less developed among the Greeks of pre-Hellenistic times than later. Maybe, a circumstance played its role that in the Hellenistic period frameworks of the Greek world widened in all respects, and contacts between states became more intensive. But the onomastical fund of Greeks remained practically the same, limited enough.


Nicknames, Greece, Athens, ostracism, ostraka, demagogues, epithets

Igor E. Surikov

Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia

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