The modern-day city-state of Monaco was first settled by Phoenician sailors, and then by Greek colonists in the sixth century BCE. While the Phoenicians regarded it as a sacred city of their god Melqart, the Greeks believed that the city was significant because Hercules passed through it while going about his adventures. According to the Greek geographer Strabo, a temple of Heracles Monoikos was established there. Monoikos here translates to "single house" in Ancient Greek, and what exactly was meant by that is subject to some debate. Some believe the "house" part may be regarded as meaning "one" and that "single one" was an epithet of Hercules, while others think that it might have been a reference to the temple, or just the fact that the city was relatively isolated. Either way, the temple lent its name to that of the city, which later changed into the spelling we know today. There's also a prominent port in Monaco called Port Hercules, which is a cool remnant of this story.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.