The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names was established in 1972 as a Major Research Project of the British Academy, at the suggestion of Peter Marshall Fraser, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and a Fellow of the Academy. From the start, LGPN involved international collaboration, scholars from many countries being invited to contribute material and advice; but the Editors and central staff have always worked in Oxford. In October 1996, the project became part of Oxford University, under the aegis of the Faculty of Literae Humaniores, now the Faculty of Classics. It is a member of the group of Oxford Classics Research Projects. The project receives funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Fell Fund of the University of Oxford, and the Academy of Athens.
Its purpose and scope is to list, with documentation, the bearers of all known ancient Greek personal names (including non-Greek names recorded in Greek, and Greek names in Latin or other languages), drawn from all available sources (literature, inscriptions, graffiti, papyri, coins, vases and other artefacts), within the period from the earliest Greek written records down to, approximately, the sixth century CE.
The work thus starts with the period of epichoric scripts, embraces the classical and hellenistic periods of Greek history, following dialect and the development of koine, and continues through the period of the Roman Empire when Greek nomenclature underwent changes as a result of Roman rule, and religious, social and other factors. The rough terminus ante quem is 600 CE, ie the time of the Islamic conquests. To have moved into the developed Byzantine system of 'baptismal name', 'family name' and 'additional name' would have been to move into a new world with new forms of nomenclature and different concepts of name-giving. But we have had to take each region on its own terms in considering the terminal date. This is a particular issue with LGPN IV, where for Byzantion itself we break notionally at the moment of its re-foundation as the new Rome (soon renamed Constantinople) in 323 CE. Mythological, heroic and (with regret) Mycenaean names are excluded (but a few heroes whose names are taken up within a city they supposedly founded, such as Agapenor at Paphos in Cyprus, are let in.) A full explanation of editorial practice in compiling and editing LGPN was given in the Introduction to LGPN I. These principles have been applied consistently, with small modifications explained in LGPN VA xv-xvi, VB xxviii-xxx.
For the principles of Greek naming and the later history of Greek naming see the following articles:
1. Greek names
2. The formation of names
3. The 'meanings' of names
4. Later developments
5. Modern Greek names