Dorians, the name by which one of the four chief branches of the Hellenes, the descendants of Dorus, son of Hellen, were distinguished in the history of ancient Greece. In the remotest period they appear on the classic ground between Mount Olympus and Ossa; then, by turns conquering and conquered, in Macedonia, on the island of Crete, in Doris, where they founded the Tetrapolis, and in the Peloponnesus, which they entered under the returning Heraclidae, and where they became masters of Sparta, Argos, and Messenia. They distinguished themselves from other Hellenic tribes by a character of dignified solidity, of rigid and often rough gravity. This manifested itself not only in their manners, laws, and institutions, so much in contrast with those of the milder Ionians, but also in their dialect, broad and rough, but strong and solemn, and therefore well suited to sacred hymns and choruses; in the light hunting dress of their women, in the strong and unadorned Doric column, in the warlike sounds of their music, and even in the spirit of the Pythagorean philosophy; while everything Ionian was marked by a character of softness, elegance, and taste.

Colonies of the Dorians flourished in Italy, Sicily, and Asia Minor. - See K. O. Muller, Die Dorier (2d ed., 3 vols., Breslau, 1844).