Well, I’ve discovered I like doing names in groupings like this.
So then, god and goddess names. How do you feel about them? Wholly inappropriate or dependent on sound? A confident statement of just how awesome your child is, or a symptom of delusion? Does it matter what religion the name in question comes from?
For me, the answer is, as usual, a combination of all factors. The main thing is sound. If the name is completely over the top (I’m looking at you, Andromeda), I would put it in the middle, if at all. I love Andromeda, but it would be very difficult to wear day to day. The second factor is the story of the character, or what the god/goddess represents. Adonis was supposedly the ideal specimen of male beauty; this makes the name unusable, despite its modern namey qualities. It just seems conceited, and like the set up on a bad pick up line. Poor Venus falls into the same trap. You really shouldn’t name your daughter after a goddess of erotic love. (And I’m taking this chance to alert you all to one of my favorite works of art: Linked for nudity. Titian’s Venus of Urbino. Isn’t she gorgeous?) And the final factor to consider is the age of the religion you’re taking your names from. If people are still practicing, it might be offensive to use deity names. Try to look into it.
And now to discuss my shortlist of favorite mythology names! I’m only listing ones instantly recognizable as mythological here; if I discussed them all we’d be here all night. So no Eve or Bridget.
- Athena: The one and only. I’ve always been drawn to the goddess, and her association with wisdom makes her a worthy namesake. I think the sound is easily integrate-able into modern times, and it has a history of usage. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s been used in Greece in the past, although it is slightly frumpy nowadays. I always want to pair it with Rosemary or Prudence or both; I know Athena Prudence is a little overkill on the whole “wisdom” thing, though. And anyway, how awesome a namesake is the goddess? Sprung fully armed from her father’s head! I also like Minerva, but markedly less after Harry Potter; wasn’t there a character named that? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t like those books.
- Pandora: Yo Lola! If I had this name in my family tree, I’d use it in a minute. I think it’s really lovely, but just a little harder to wear than Athena. Probably best suited to a middle spot, partially due to “Pandora’s Box” jokes as a teen. The name itself has a beautiful sound, and although the myth is often seen as a negative, I see it as more of a neutral thing. I mean, people still use Eve.
- Hera: Understated and easy to live with, I think. As long as you stick with Her-ra and not Hair-ra. Simple and pretty. My only drawback is that Hera was the goddess of marriage and childbirth; I wouldn’t want to hinge any daughter’s identity on that. I’m probably being over-sensitive about it, though. Similarly, I like the Roman counterpart Juno, but wouldn’t use it for a good long time since the movie. I like the movie, but it’s just too strong of an association right now. The name itself is cool in that it has the unusual -o ending for a female. It’s a strong and interesting sounding name. I think Hera is more usable, though; opinions?
- Guinevere: Perhaps less instantly recognizable as mythology as the rest of these, but still reads mythology to me. I think it’s a spectacularly pretty sound and I like Winnie. There’s a woman on one of my boards with a daughter named this, and I always thought it was very pretty. Definitely wearable and interesting. The V gives it a real lushness, almost the same feel as Godiva without the pesky chocolate association.
After getting to these three, I’m starting to hit guilty pleasure territory. I also never noticed how many mythology names have been so integrated that they don’t scream “mythology!” anymore. Iris, Penelope, Lavinia, Helen, Indira, Aoife, Eve, Bridget, Deirdre, Arthur, Diana, Aurora, Balthazar, Daphne, etc. They wouldn’t necessarily immediately read mythology to me, anyway, although I guess I can’t comment on their countries of origin.
And, before we go out, a list of my guilty pleasure mythology names:
What are you favorite “mythology-mythology” names? What are your under-the-radar favorites?