Actor – How did I not know this?

Today I had a small revelation. While watching the final season of Slings and Arrows, I decided to look up the plot to Troilus and Cressida. When doing so, I was reminded of the ambiguous relationship that Achilles is said to have with Patroclus. In looking up more about Patroclus, I found out that he is the grandson of someone named “Actor.” Wading through Wikipedia, I decided to learn more about that name and found the following information.

Actor (Greek: Ἄκτωρ; gen.: Ἄκτoρος) is a very common name in Greek mythology. Here is a selection of characters that share this name (which means ‘leader’, from the verb άγω: to lead or carry, to convey, bring):

  1. Actor, a king of Phthia, was said to be the son of King Deioneus of Phocis and Diomede, or of King Myrmidon and Peisidice, daughter of Aeolus. Some say that Actor died childless, but others say that he is the father of Eurytion, his successor.
  2. Actor, son of Deioneus and Diomede, daughter of Xuthus, thus a brother of Asterodeia, Aenetus, Phylacus, and Cephalus. This Actor married Aegina, daughter of the river godAsopus, and had several children, among them Menoetius. Menoetius was counted among the Argonauts, and was the father of Patroclus (Achilles’ best friend or lover).
  3. Actor, son of Azeus, descendant of Phrixus, was ruler of the Minyans of Orchomenus. He was father of Astyoche, who was seduced by the war-god Ares and bore him twin sons, named Ascalaphus and Ialmenus. These last two led the Minyan contingent to the Trojan War.
  4. Actor, son of Phorbas and Hyrmine, thus a brother of Augeas. He was king of Elis, and founded the city of Hyrmina, which he named after his mother. This Actor married Molione and became by her father of the twins known as the Molionides, Cteatus and Eurytus.
  5. Actor, son of Hippasus, one of the Argonauts.
  6. Actor, son of Oenops, brother of Hyperbius. He was among the defenders of the Borraean Gate at Thebes when the Seven Against Thebes attacked the city.
  7. Actor, father of Sthenelus. Sthenelus followed Heracles in his campaign against the Amazons and was killed by them.
  8. Actor, one of the companions of the exiled Aeneas. He is probably the same who in another passage is called an Auruncan, and of whose conquered lance Turnus made a boast. This story seems to have given rise to the proverbial saying “Actoris spolium” (“the spoil of Actor”), for any poor spoil in general.
  9. Actor, father of Echecles. His son married Polymele, mother of Eudorus by Hermes.
  10. Actor, a warrior in the army of the Seven Against Thebes. He saw a chasm open in the earth that swallowed Amphiaraus.
  11. Actor, a Lapith. He was killed by the CentaurClanis.
  12. Actor, son of Acastus, was accidentally killed by Peleus while hunting. As a retribution, Peleus sent to Acastus some cows and sheep that had been killed by a wolf sent byThetis.
  13. Actor and Eurythemis were in one source called parents of Ancaeus and grandparents of Agapenor.
This was shocking to me. I had never realized that so many people were named Actor. I am sure I read it in passing, but it never seemed to click with me until today. I did know that the term “actor” that we use today to mean performer, is not what the Greeks referred to them as. Our use of the term “actor” came into popular use around the 1600’s. (According to the dictionary it was 1580’s). Still, I thought this was interesting, and I wanted to share. 


  1. Katherine said,

    June 21, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Leave it to an actor to find more than a dozen definitions of the word. I love it. I had no idea of its origins.

  2. March 26, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Used image

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