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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Greek Cities of the South

Apparently, early settlers had a great fondness for the classical world.

Who knew the South loved Greece so much? I should have known since I hail from New Orleans, city of Mardi Gras krewes named after Greek and Roman gods and heroes. But I was surprised in my travels throughout the South that so many towns and cities gave homage to the ancient world. Some make sense, such as Athens, Georgia, named for the Greek center of learning in the classical world and home to the University of Georgia, the first American university created by a state government. Or that sophisticated Nashville was once called the “Athens of the South,” which is why, as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon was built in the city’s Centennial Park (shown above).

Here are a few more, although by no means the complete list:

Demopolis, Alabama

Greek for “City of the People” or “the People’s City,” Demopolis was founded by a group of French expatriates in 1817 after the fall of Napoleon and the colonial collapse of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).

Athens, Georgia

You might connect this university with football these days but the University of Georgia dates back to 1785, one reason the town is named for the ancient Greek center of learning.

Achille in Oklahoma and Achilles, Virginia

Achilles served in the Trojan War, was considered the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and the central character of Homer's “Iliad.”

Parthenon, Arkansas

Parthenon, near the Buffalo River, is named for the Athens, Greece, temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.

Corinth, Mississippi

This northeastern Mississippi town was first called Cross City for its railroad junction, but renamed Corinth after the Greek crossroad, according to The Daily Corinthian. It’s why Confederate and Union forces fought over the town and railroad during the Civil War.

Penelope, Texas

You might think this town in the Texas Hill Country was named for the queen of Ithaca in Homer’s “Odyssey,” the daughter of Spartan king Icarius and naiad Periboea. But Penelope is named for another daughter. Penelope Trice was the offspring of the president of the International-Great Northern Railroad, which came through the town in the early 1900s.

Troy, Alabama

Here’s another one that sounds like it should be linked to Greece but was actually named in 1838 for either Alexander Troy of Montgomery, Ala., or Troy, N.Y., according to However, Troy, N.Y., was named for the famous city in Homer’s “Illiad,” so there might be a Greek connection after all.

Eros, Louisiana and Eros, Arkansas

According to the Jackson Parish Journal of Louisiana, the Arkansas town was named for the Greek “God of Love,” but the Louisiana town was named for an asteroid. “According to records it was a local lady who lived in the area where Tremont Lumber had built a new mill in 1898 that gave the town its name,” writes the Journal. “The way it happened was one day Mrs. Pearl Collins, who was interested in astronomy, read that a German astronomer had discovered the 433rd asteroid ever documented and named it Eros. Enamored with the way it sounded and having already the want to have the community get a Post Office she submitted the name to the Louisiana Postal Service. On October 23rd, 1899 she received approval from the state and the town not only had a Post Office but a new name.

And then there’s Atlanta

The Capital of Georgia's name means “the sea of Atlas” or “the island of Atlas” in Greek.

atlanta georgia
Atlanta, Georgia

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1 Comment

Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
Dec 01, 2022

Wonderful story! Love the Greek connections!

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