Danaë and Diomedes

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Painted by the awesome Artemisia Gentileschi

Danaë is the mother of the great hero Perseus (fathered by whom else but the always-horny Zeus), and the daughter and only child of King Acrisius and Queen Eurydice of Argos. Danaë is also credited with founding the now-Italian city of Ardea during the Bronze Age.

Acrisius was really upset he didn’t have any sons, though at least he didn’t pull a Henry VIII by marrying a whole slew of women and then divorcing or beheading them when they failed to produce male heirs. He went to the Oracle of Delphi for help, and was told he’d never have a boy. His daughter, however, would.

The Oracle went on to say Acrisius would be killed by this grandson. Danaë didn’t have any kids yet, so her father locked her up in a bronze chamber. Depending on the story, this chamber was either beneath the palace or in a tower.

Zeus once again couldn’t keep it in his pants, and came to Danaë in the form of golden rain coming through the roof. This golden rain went right into her uterus and created Perseus. Those familiar with Hinduism will recognise parallels to the story of Krishna’s conception following the imprisonment of his parents.

Krishna’s evil uncle Kamsa had been told his sister Devaki’s eighth-born son would kill him, and threw Devaki and her husband Vasudeva into prison, chained to opposite walls, after being told Vishnu is the ultimate trickster, and that any one of those boys could be the eighth if put in a circle. He also murdered the first seven sons. Radiant light poured into the cell, and Krishna was conceived from the power of Devaki and Vasudeva’s thoughts.

Illustration by Walter Crane

Acrisius couldn’t bring himself to murder his own flesh and blood, so he set Danaë and Perseus adrift in a wooden chest. Poseidon calmed the sea, and Zeus saved them. They washed ashore on the island of Seriphos and were taken in by Prince Dictys, brother of King Polydectes. The king had the hots for Danaë, but she wasn’t charmed, and Perseus was very protective of his mother.

Polydectes pretended he was going to marry Princess Hippodamia of Pisa, and ordered everyone to bring wedding gifts. Perseus was held to an earlier boast to bring back the head of a Gorgon, a winged woman with a hideous face and snakes for hair. When Perseus returned with Medusa’s head, the king was among those who turned to stone. In another version, Danaë married Polydectes soon after her arrival.

The name Danaë comes from Danaoi, a word Homer used to designate the Greeks. Other forms are Danaé (French, Czech, Italian, German), Danai (modern Greek), Dânae (Portuguese), Dánae (Spanish), Dànae (Catalan), Danae (Italian), Danaya (Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian), Danaja (Polish, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian), and Danaée (French).

Diomedes is a great hero in Greek mythohistory, particularly known for his role in the Trojan War. His parents were Aeolian hero Tydeus (one of the Seven Against Thebes) and Princess Deipyle of Argos. Sadly, his dad was murdered when he was only four, during the abovementioned mission to Thebes. By the funeral, Diomedes and the other sons of the Seven Against Thebes vowed to someday vanquish Thebes. They named their little band Epigoni (Offspring).

The Epigoni successfully waged war against Thebes, and many epics (now all lost) were written about this war. Indeed, it was the most important war in Greek history prior to the Trojan War. After the Epigoni War, Diomedes was crowned King of Argos at only fifteen years old.

Diomedes ruled Argos very successfully, and also restored the throne of Calydon to his paternal grandpap Oeneus. He went on to engage in even more heroism during the Trojan War. Though he was the youngest of all the warriors, he was the most experienced fighter and leader. If you haven’t already read The Iliad, I highly recommend the Robert Fagles translation!

Diomedes is derived from the elements Dios (of Zeus) and medomai (to plan, to think).

The many forms of David

David is a perennially-popular classic, working so well on all ages and types of guys. It’s never been tied to any one generation, and can’t be stereotyped as belonging to one particular personality type since it’s so widely-used. There are also some feminine forms of this name.

1. David is Hebrew in origin, meaning “belovèd.” It’s also used in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Macedonian, Scottish, Czech, the Scandinavian languages, Slovenian, Russian, Dutch, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Dávid is Hungarian and Slovak.

2. Davit is Georgian, and the name of one of Georgia’s greatest kings, Davit the Builder.

3. Daud is Indonesian and a variant Arabic transliteration.

4. Dawud is the more common Arabic transliteration. Dawood is also used.

5. Dafydd is Welsh. Nicknames are TaffyDeio, and Dai.

6. Dàibhidh is the native Scottish spelling. A rarer spelling is Daividh.

7. Davide is Italian.

8. Davud is Persian. An alternate transliteration is Davoud.

9. Taavi is Estonian and Finnish. An alternate form is Taavet.

10. Tavit is Armenian.

11. Kawika is Hawaiian.

12. Dovydas is Lithuanian. Davydas is an alternate form.

13. Dovid is Yiddish. An alternative form is Duvid.

14. Daibhead is Irish.

15. Dávið is Faroese. The Icelandic variation is Davíð.

16. Daavi is Greenlandic.

17. Daví is Catalan.

18. Dāvids is Latvian. The nickname is Dāvis.

19. Davido is Esperanto.

20. Dävu is Swiss–German.

21. Davut is Turkish.

22. Dávved is Sami, a native Siberian language.

23. Davyd is Ukrainian.

24. Dawie is Afrikaans.

25. Dawit is Bashkir.

26. Dawei is Chinese.

27. Devassy is Malay.

28. Devi is Breton.

29. Tavita is Tongan.

30. Dawid is Polish.

Feminine forms:

1. Davida is Hebrew, Italian, and English.

2. Davina is Scottish. This is the name of one of my favorite secondary characters, a very annoying grandma and stepgrandma with a shocking secret in her past.

3. Dawida is Polish.

4. Davita is Dutch and English.

“New” names

To mark the approaching New Year, here are some names whose meanings relate to the word “new.”

Unisex:

Addis means “new” in Amharic.

İlkay means “new Moon” in Turkish.

Nukartaava means “his/her new little sibling” in Greenlandic.

Male:

Abhinav means “very new, nascent” in Sanskrit.

Arata can mean “new, fresh” in Japanese.

Navendu means “new Moon” in Sanskrit.

Navin means “new” in Sanskrit.

Neophytos means “newly planted” in Greek.

Neville means “new town” in Norman French.

Newton means “new town” in Old English.

Novak means “new” in Serbian. This is also a surname.

Novomir means “new world” and “new peace” in Russian. This was one of those invented names most popular in the early decades of the USSR.

Nowomił means “new and gracious” or “new and dear” in Polish.

Nowomysł means “new thought” in Polish,

Nýr means “new, young” in Old Norse.

Nýrádr means “new advice/counsel” in Old Norse.

Nývard means “new guard” in Icelandic.

Tan means “new” in Vietnamese.

Tazen is a contemporary Turkish name meaning “new, fresh.”

Toyotoshi can mean “abundant new year” in Japanese.

Xavier is an English, French, Catalan, Old Spanish, and Portuguese name derived from Etxaberri, a Basque place name meaning “the new house.” The Catalan nickname is XaviJavier is the modern Spanish form, Xabier (Xabi) is Basque and Galician, Xaver is German, Saveriu is Corsican, Saverio is Italian, Ksawery is Polish, Ksaver is Slovenian, Serbian, and Croatian, Ksaveriy is Russian and Bulgarian, Ksaveras is Lithuanian, Saver is Maltese, Xaveriu is Romanian, and Xaverius is Dutch and Indonesian.

Female:

Alený means “new elf” in Old Norse.

Árný means “new year” in Icelandic. The Norwegian form is Årny.

Ásný means “new god” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Ayça means “new Moon” in Turkish.

Dagny is a Scandinavian name which means “new day” in Old Norse. The Icelandic (and original Old Norse) variant is Dagný, and the Latvian version is Dagnija. One of my favoritest secondary characters is named Dagnija.

Eirný means “new peace” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Eiðný means “new oath” in Icelandic.

Friðný means “new love” and “new peace” in Icelandic.

Fróðný means “clever/wise new Moon” in Icelandic.

Gestný means “new guest” in Icelandic.

Gíslný means “new pledge” or “new hostage” in Icelandic.

Guðný means “new gods” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Hagný means “new pasture/enclosure” in Old Norse.

Hallný means “new rock” in Icelandic.

Hatsune can mean “new sound” in Japanese.

Hatsuyuki can mean “new snow” in Japanese.

Heiðný means “new and clear” in Icelandic.

Helny is a modern Swedish name meaning “holy and new.”

Hjörný means “new sword” in Icelandic. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t use this in an Anglophone country.

Hróðný means “new Moon fame” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Ijeoma means “a new beginning” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. This is also the salutation used to wish someone safe travels.

Leikny means “new game” in Norwegian.

Lingný is a contemporary Icelandic name meaning “new heather.”

Magný means “new Moon strength” in Icelandic.

Neaira means “new rising” in Greek. The Latinized form is Neaera.

Newbihar means “new spring” in Kurdish.

Nova is an English name derived from the Latin word nova, “new.” It was first recorded as a name in the 19th century. Besides being a nickname for the below-mentioned Novomira, it can also be a nickname for the Russian name Zinoviya and its Greek forms Zenovia and Zinovia.

Novomira is the feminine form of Novomir. Nicknames can be Nova and Mira.

Nûber means “new sprout/shoot” in Kurdish.

Nutan means “new” in Sanskrit.

Nýbjörg means “new help/deliverance” in Icelandic.

Nyfrid means “new love” in Norwegian.

Sæný means “new sea” in Icelandic.

Signý means “new victory” in Old Norse. The modern Scandinavian forms are Signe and Signy.

Unni is a Scandinavian name which may mean “new wave.”

Vårny means “new spring” in Swedish.

Xaviera is the English feminine form of Xavier. Saviera is Italian, Xavière and Xavérie are French, Ksavera is Lithuanian, and Ksawera is Polish.

Snowy names

Since the season of snow is unfortunately upon us in my part of Planet Earth, I thought I’d do a list of snow-related names.

Unisex:

Aput means “snow” in Greenlandic.

Fuyuki can mean “winter snow” in Japanese.

Setsuna means “calm snow” in Japanese.

Xue can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Xun can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Yuki can mean “snow” in Japanese. Sadly, I can imagine a lot of teasing in the Anglophone world, with people assuming this name is pronounced “yucky.”

Male:

Aputsiaq means “snowflake” in Greenlandic.

Berfan means “snow” in Kurdish.

Berfhat means “snow is here” in Kurdish.

Edur means “snow” in Basque.

Eirwyn means “white snow” in Welsh.

Fannar is an Icelandic name possibly derived from the female Old Norse name Fönn, “snow drift.”

Haruyuki can mean “spring snow” in Japanese.

Hideyuki can mean “excellent snow” in Japanese.

Himadri means “mountaintop of snow” in Sanskrit, in reference to the Himalayas. The name Himalaya itself means “house of snow.”

Masauna means “wet snow” in Greenlandic.

Persoĸ means “snow flurry” in Greenlandic.

Snær means “snow” in Icelandic and Old Norse. Icelandic has a lot more names of older vintage than its sister languages Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, due to its geographical isolation. For this reason, the Icelandic language is also closer to Old Norse than the other three languages.

Snæþór means “snow thunder” in Icelandic.

Takayuki can mean “valuable snow” in Japanese.

Yukio can mean “blue snow” or “green snow” in Japanese.

Female:

Bora means “snow” in Albanian.

Chione means “snow” in Greece. She was the daughter of Callirrhoe (a Naiad) and Neilus (god of the Nile). Zeus made Hermes turn her into a snow cloud. In another version of her story, she was a snow nymph or a minor snow goddess.

Dëborake means “snow” in Albanian.

Dianeu means “day of snow” in Catalan.

Drífa means “fall of snow; snowdrift” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Edurra means “snow” in Basque.

Eira means “snow” in Welsh. Another form of this name is Eiry.

Eirwen means “white snow” in Welsh.

Fanndís means “snow goddess” in Icelandic.

Gwyneira also means “white snow” in Welsh.

Hatsuyuki can mean “new snow” or “first snow” in Japanese.

Haukea means “white snow” in Hawaiian. It seems kind of odd to me how there would be any Hawaiian names relating to snow!

Haunani means “beautiful snow” in Hawaiian.

Helve means “snowflake” in Estonian.

Ilgara means “first snow” in Azeri.

Kaniehtiio means “beautiful snow” in Mohawk.

Kohakuyuki can mean “amber snow” in Japanese.

Koyuki can mean “little snow” in Japanese.

Kukiko can mean “snow child” in Japanese.

Lian can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Lumi means “snow” in Estonian and Finnish. Lumia is an alternate form. Another form is Lumikki, which is Snow White’s name in Finnish.

Miyuki can mean “beautiful snow” in Japanese.

Mjalldís means “fresh/powdery snow goddess” in Icelandic.

Mjǫll means “fresh/powdery snow” in Old Norse. She was the daughter of King Snær (Snow).

Setsuka can mean “snow flower” in Japanese.

Snezhana means “snowy” in Russian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian. The Serbian form is Snežana, the Ukrainian form is Snizhana, and the Croatian form is Snježana. One of my animal characters is a snow-white Pomeranian named Snezhinka, which means “snowflake” in Russian. Snegurochka is the name of the Snow Maiden who helps Dyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost) with distributing Christmas presents.

Sniega means “snow” in Lithuanian.

Tuyết means “snow” in Vietnamese.

Yukiko can mean “snow child” in Japanese.

Names for the discerning arachnophile

If you’re a passionate arachnophile like I am, you may have considered giving either your child or your pet tarantula a spider-themed name. Everyone knows the Greek name Arachne, but there are a lot of other names with an arachnid flavour to consider. I was delighted to discover not only some new-to-me names whose meanings relate to spiders, but also to discover a number of spider genera names could work as personal names too.

Male:

Anansi means “spider” in Akan, a Central Tano language spoken in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Benin. This is the name of a popular folklore character who often assumes the form of a spider.

Araneus is a type of orb-weaving spider.

Ariamnes is a type of cobweb spider.

Atrax is a type of venomous spider.

Corryn means “spider” in Welsh.

Dolomedes is a type of large spider, resembling a wolf spider. The word means “deceitful, wily” in Greek.

Eresus is a type of velvet spider.

Hasarius is a type of jumping spider.

Menemerus is another type of jumping spider.

Níngut can mean “spiderweb” in Greenlandic.

Sicarius is a desert spider.

Simalio is a type of sac spider.

Tartarus is a cave-dwelling spider. The name comes from a place in the Greek underworld, even lower than Hades. This was also the name of a primordial deity.

Tenedos is a type of ant spider.

Thanatus is a type of false crab spider. This is also the Latinized spelling of Thanatos, the Greek god of Death.

Theridion is a type of tangle-web spider.

Tibellus is a type of slender crab spider.

Wabasso is a type of sheet-weaving spider.

Zelotes is a type of ground spider.

Zodarion is a type of ant-eating spider.

Zosis is a type of non-venomous spider.

Female:

Acacesia is a type of orb-weaver spider.

Admestina is a type of jumping spider.

Aganippe is a type of spider which resembles a tarantula, and the name of several women in Greek mythology. The name means “gentle horse” in Greek.

Agelena is a type of spider which traps its prey by weaving entangled, non-sticky funnel webs.

Agyneta is a type of sheet-weaver spider.

Allocosa is a type of wolf spider.

Alopecosa is another type of wolf spider.

Andasta is a type of ray spider.

Arania means “spider” in Persian.

Araniella is a type of orb-weaving spider.

Anansia is the feminine form of Anansi.

Archaea is an extinct type of assassin spider.

Arctosa is a type of wolf spider.

Argiope is a type of spider with a very strikingly-coloured abdomen. The name means “silver-faced” in Greek.

Artema is a type of cellar spider.

Bagheera is a type of jumping spider.

Bellota is another type of jumping spider.

Bredana is also a jumping spider.

Bromella is a type of hackled band-producing spider.

Camillina is a type of ground spider.

Cantuaria is a large spider which resembles a tarantula.

Carniella is a type of tangle web spider.

Cataxia is a large spider resembling a tarantula.

Catumiri is a type of tarantula. I could also see this name working on a boy or a male tarantula.

Cerocida is a type of spider found only in the tropics of South America.

Cesonia is a type of ground spider.

Cicurina is a type of hackled band-producing spider.

Clubiona is a type of leafcurling sac spider.

Colima is a Mexican-only ant spider.

Colopea is a type of spider which produces ecribellate silk.

Dalmasula is a type of goblin spider.

Dasumia is a type of woodlouse-hunting spider.

Dictyna is a type of hackled band-producing spider.

Diplura is a type of funnel-web tarantula.

Dysdera is a type of woodlouse hunting spider.

Erigone is a type of fanged, carnivorous spider.

Eriophora is a type of orb-weaving spider. The word means “to carry wool” in Greek.

Eris is a type of jumping spider. This was also the name of the Greek goddess of discord (which is also the meaning of the name).

Evarcha is a type of jumping spider.

Filistata is a type of carnivorous, fanged spider.

Galeosoma is a large spider resembling a tarantula.

Genysa is another large spider resembling a tarantula.

Ghelna is a type of jumping spider.

Gladicosa is a type of wolf spider.

Gossamer is the fine silk spiderlings use when they balloon through the air. This is also a very sheer, light, gauzy fabric.

Hentzia is a type of jumping spider.

Hersilia is a type of long-spinnered bark spider.

Hexura is a type of sheet funnel-web spider.

Kaira is a type of orb-weaving spider.

Larinia is another type of orb-weaving spider.

Lutica is a type of ant spider.

Maevia is a type of jumping spider.

Mangora is a type of orb-weaving spider.

Marpissa is a type of jumping spider.

Metellina is a type of long-jawed orb-weaving spider.

Micaria is a type of ground spider.

Moneta is a type of tangle-web spider.

Nagaina is a type of jumping spider, and a cobra in Rudyard Kipling’s famous story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Neonella is a type of jumping spider. This is very similar to the old Russian name Neonila.

Nephila is a type of golden silk orb-weaving spider. The name means “fond of spinning” in Greek.

Palfuria is a type of ant spider.

Parameta is a type of long-jawed orb-weaving spider.

Pardosa is a type of wolf spider.

Pelegrina is a type of jumping spider. This is also the name of a famous pearl, with a disputed etymology.

Pirata is a type of wolf spider.

Portia is a type of jumping spider. This name was famously invented by Shakespeare for The Merchant of Venice, based on the Latin name Porcia (pig).

Sarinda is an ant-like jumping spider. This is also a traditional Indian instrument.

Synema is a type of crab spider.

Talavera is a type of jumping spider.

Tangata is a type of six-eyed spider.

Tegenaria is a type of funnel-web spider.

Telema is a type of fanged spider.

Theraphosa is a type of tarantula.

Theridula is a type of cobweb spider.

Thiodina is a type of jumping spider.

Ummidia is a type of trapdoor spider.

Ursa is a type of orb-weaving spider. The name means “bear” in Latin.

Wirada is a small, dark brown spider.

Zaitunia is a type of crevice-weaving spider.

Zilla is a type of orb-weaving spider.