Who is the first person in recorded history that practicaly everyone has heard of?

Alexander the Great was 4th century BC.

Socrates was 5th century BC.

Homer was 8th century BC.

How much further back can we go?

I have known lots of rednecks who never heard of Homer or Socrates. Alexander the Great? Maybe. Julius Caesar for sure. I would say even in a Third World country like Thailand, Julius Caesar is a recognizable name, maybe. Certainly not Alexander. Hell, the locals thought he was just made up for that Colin Farrell movie.

My grandies have never heard of those you cited. They are aged 6 and 9. Perhaps you might want to redefine your parameters??


Sargon the Great?

Adam and Eve. Done!

Edit: If you count divine beings. God!

Tutankhaumen, maybe? (13th century BC.)


14th century BC

My wife was a history major in college, so she knows all of these, but thinks that most Taiwanese may have heard of many in world history but certainly can’t really say anything about them.

I would be extremely surprised if a significant percent of Westerners could recognize anyone from Asian history
outside of Buddha or Confucius.

Yes, OP will need to define what “practicaly everyone” means. If it means “at least half the people on the planet” I’d guess … Donald Trump!

If it means “at least half the people who attended high school in a developed Western country,” Adam and Eve, or Moses would come to mind if probably-fictionally people are allowed. (If you say the Pentateuch is not “recorded history” what makes you the arbiter of news fakery? :slight_smile: )

If “The Great Pyramid of Cheops” were generally known by that name, then “Cheops” (or “Khufu”) might be the answer. But I doubt that most could remember either of those proper names. Hammurabi, the great King of Babylon, would be a strong candidate; but again, he’d work only for very small values of “practically everyone.”

Assuming only certainly-real people are allowed, King Tut was very famous decades ago when his grave goods went on world tour. Are Millennials still familiar with him?

I might bet on Siddhartha the Buddha from the 6th century BC as well-known worldwide, though his contemporary Pythagoras of Samos may be better known to a Eurocentric “everyone.”

I was dismayed when some Westerners told me Charlemagne was just a vague name to them. I’ll bet many would be unable to arrange Charlemagne, Julius Caesar and King Tut in chronological order.

My money would be on the Scorpion King, if only because the Rock was in that movie. So that would be, what? 3100 BC? Although I would guess 0% of that movie’s audience knew he was based on a real person.

The problem is that OP is asking for two variables. We can start with someone who is almost universally known (e.g. King Tut) but not particularly old, and work backwards to people who are older but more obscure. Without some further parameters its just guessing.

And as others have pointed out, no matter how famous a historical person is, there is some ignoramus somewhere who has never heard of him.

I think the winner should be simply the maximum value for the product of the % of people who have heard of the person multiplied by the time since they lived.

I’m thinking anyone who’s heard of Moses has also heard of Abraham, who was an earlier figure.

Agreed that this is a loaded question with no possible definitive answer.

My votes would be for:

If the criteria is historically established to have existed, then Confucius (551 B.C.) with ~1.4 billion Chinese + an additional 2-3 billion who have heard of him

If the criteria is generally accepted to have existed, then Muhammad (570 C.E) with ~1.3 billion Muslims + an additional 2-3 billion who have heard of him.

If the criteria allows for generally believed to have existed, then Jesus (~33 B.C.) with ~2.1 billion Christians + 2-3 billion

Everybody knows of Scorpion King with his fancy name but nobody remembers poor Catfish Chisel.

Like most posts of this type, this list is very Western-centric, understandable because this forum is based in the US and in English. The problem with a Western-centric viewpoint is that it ignores the population of countries (China and India) with the largest populations that are highly country-centric (especially regarding history) and with large rural populations that have no need or desire of knowledge not directly tied to their daily existence.

Several months ago, there as a Chinese reality show (Produce 101 - China) to create a CPop group (Rocket Girls) by viewer votes. Worldwide viewership (live and streaming) was in the 100’s of millions (primarily in China). One the most popular members was Yang Chao Yue, The Flower/Pride of her Village. Heard of her? No? Well, neither had most of the people in her village when a show went to visit her father!

The Father the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Never heard of him…

I’ve heard of So-crates.

"As sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives. ’


Subject of one of the cooler ancient artifacts. (Featuring serpopards!)