How Did They Say Hello in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, people greeted each other in various ways depending on the time period, location, and social context. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common ways in which Greeks said hello.

The Classical Period

During the classical period (5th to 4th century BCE), when Athens was the cultural and intellectual center of Greece, people greeted each other with the word “χαίρετε” (chairete), which means “be happy” or “rejoice”. This greeting was often accompanied by a handshake or a hug, depending on the familiarity of the individuals.

The Hellenistic Period

In the Hellenistic period (4th to 1st century BCE), after Alexander the Great conquered most of Greece and spread Greek culture throughout his empire, people began to use a new greeting: “χαίρετε καὶ πρόσεχε” (chairete kai prosexete), which means “be happy and pay attention”. This greeting reflected the increasing emphasis on mindfulness and self-awareness in Greek philosophy during that time.

The Byzantine Era

During the Byzantine era (4th to 15th century CE), when Greece was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, people used a more formal greeting: “Χριστὸς ἀνέστη” (Christos anesti), which means “Christ is risen”. This greeting was usually exchanged during Easter season as a way of commemorating Christ’s resurrection. Another common greeting during this time was “Εἰρήνη σοι” (Eirini soi), which means “peace be with you”.


As we can see, the way Greeks said hello varied depending on the time period and social context. From the simple “χαίρετε” of the classical era to the more complex “χαίρετε καὶ πρόσεχε” of the Hellenistic era, each greeting reflected the cultural values and philosophical ideas of its time. And even though these greetings may no longer be in use today, they have left an indelible mark on Greek history and language.