Eurotas and Eos

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Eurotas is a river god, King of Laconia, son of King Myles, and paternal grandson of King Lelex and Queen Cleocharia (who was also a Naiad). Unusually for a deity, he had a mortal lineage.

Though he didn’t have any male heirs, he and his wife, Queen Clete, had a daughter named Sparta. The famous city of Sparta was named for her, though it was alternately called Lacedaemon, after her husband and uncle.

In order to channel away the stagnant marsh water from the plain of Lacedaemon, Eurotas cut through the sea to create a canal, and named the resulting river after himself. This is the real-life Eurotas (a.k.a. Vrodamas) Canyon, a ravine wherein the river cuts through the foothills of the Taygetos Mountains, after shifting direction in the west of the valley.

The name Eurotas may be related to the word eurys (wide).

Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn, whose name fittingly means “dawn.” Her name in Roman mythology is Aurora, and Ushas in Vedic Hinduism. She appears in one of my all-time favouritest opening lines, in Volume II of The GULAG Archipelago:

“Rosy-fingered Eos, mentioned so often in Homer and called Aurora by the Romans, caressed, too, with those fingers the first early morning of the Archipelago.”

Every morning, Eos arose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, a Divine personification of the sea. Her siblings are Helios, god of the Sun, and Selene, goddess of the Moon. Her parents are Hyperion and Theia, both Titans. Since her parents are siblings, she only has one set of grandparents, Uranus and Gaia.

Eos is always described as having the abovementioned rosy fingers, with which she opened the gates of the heavens for the Sun to rise.  Homer describes her with a saffron robe embroidered or woven with flowers. On Attic (Ancient Greek) vases, she’s depicted as a beautiful woman with large wings and a tiara or diadem.

Eos was believed to be the creator of all the planets and stars, with her tears creating the morning dew. She had at least five children by two different men; among her children are Eosphoros (the Morning Star) and Zephyrus, Boreas, and Notus (the Winds). According to some traditions, Aphrodite cursed Eos to perpetually be in love after Eos slept with Aphrodite’s sweetheart Ares.

The many forms of Esther

Since Purim begins on Saturday night, 11 March, it’s only right to do a post about the name Esther. Queen Esther is the shero of the Purim story, and risked her life to save her people. I chose Esther as one of my Hebrew names in her honor.

Though Esther is a very common, popular Hebrew name, it’s actually of Persian origin, possibly meaning “star.” It may also be derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian mother goddess. The Hebrew form of the name is Hadassah, which means “myrtle.”

Esther is used in English, French, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, and Hebrew. Other forms are:

1. Ester is Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Icelandic, Czech, Catalan, Persian, and Finnish. The alternate form Estèr is Jèrriais, a form of Norman (a Romance language) spoken on the islands of Jersey and Sark, part of the Channel Islands between France and England.

2. Eszter is Hungarian. The base nickname form is Eszti.

3. Yesfir is Russian. Though I’ve been a passionate Russophile for over 24 years now, this is one of those names I’m not exactly wild about!

4. Esteri is Finnish. The nickname form is Essi.

5. Estera is Polish, Slovak, Romanian, and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Estusia (Eh-STUH-shah). This name is particularly precious to me because it was the name of one of the sheroes who enabled the Sonderkommando revolt in Auschwitz on 7 October 1944. For over a year, these brave women smuggled gunpowder to the men. Sadly, four of them (Estera Wajcblum, Róża Robota, Regina Safirsztajn, and Ala Gertner) were eventually implicated, but they bravely refused to name names under torture. They were publicly hanged on 5 January 1945.

6. Hester is Latin and English.

7. Aster is Ladino (Judeo–Spanish), Judeo–Catalan, and Judeo–Latin.

8. Eistir is Medieval Irish. It was traditionally given to girls born around Easter.

9. Esiteri is Fijian.

10. Êrsta is Greenlandic.

11. Estè is Haitian Creole. This is a rare name.

12. Estere is Latvian.

13. Esthir is Greek.

14. Estir is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and a rare Greek form.

15. Etke is Yiddish.

16. Ezter is Ladino.

17. Esthera is a rare, elaborated form of Esther.

18. Esterina is an Italian and Portuguese elaboration of Ester.

19. Esfir is an alternate Russian form. I’m not wild about this one either.

20. Îsta is another Greenlandic form.

21. Eseza is Lugandan, a Bantu language spoken in Uganda.

22. Jestira is Serbian.

The many nicknames for Elizabeth

Elizabeth seems to be tied with Katherine as the name with the most nickname forms. Instead of only one or a few, there are numerous choices. Some of these might feel a bit dated, while others are more modern or timeless. There are also nickname forms for the many foreign versions.

1. Betty/Bettie was extremely popular both as a nickname and a given legal name during the first half of the 20th century.

2. Betsy not only is a nickname, but also works well (at least in my opinion) as a full name. It’s one of those nicknames that can go both ways, like Ella or Jack.

3. Bessie was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, but was gradually displaced by Betty.

4. Bess was never super-popular like Betty or Bessie, but it was more common in the late 19th century.

5. Buffy comes from a lisped or childish mispronunciation of the last syllable of Elizabeth.

6. Beth seems like one of the most timeless nicknames, not tied to one particular era.

7. Eliza can work as both a nickname and full name.

8. Elisa works as both a nickname and full name.

9. Ella seems more popular as a nickname for names like Isabella, Gabriella, and Arabella nowadays, but it also has precedence as a nickname for Elizabeth.

10. Ellie/Elly/Elli seems a little old-fashioned, but it’s been experiencing quite a comeback in recent years.

11. Elle probably got more popular after the Legally Blonde movies.

12. Elsie is a nickname I’ve always liked, though I know many people think it’s more of a cow’s name.

13. Elyse is a more uncommon nickname.

14. Elsa obviously got more trendy after a certain massively overplayed Disney song and overrated movie.

15. Lisa works as both a nickname and full name.

16. Libby/Libbie is a more old-fashioned nickname, but I think it’s cute.

17. Liddy is also rather old-fashioned.

18. Lise has never been particularly common.

19. Liza works as both a nickname and full name.

20. Liz is like Beth, very timeless and versatile.

21. Lizzie/Lizzy seems like more of a nickname for a young girl. I like how some names have nicknames that work for young children, as well as more mature nicknames one can graduate to (e.g., Lizzie and Liz, Joey and Joe).

22. Lizbeth/Lisbeth/Lisbet is an uncommon choice I’ve always liked.

23. Lizette/Lisette works as both a nickname and full name.

24. Lilibet/Lilibeth is a very distinctive nickname.

25. Lillian may have originated as a nickname for Elizabeth, but is now much more common as a name in its own right.

26. Liana is really cute, both as a nickname and full given name.

27. Lisie is really cute.

28. Tetty is obviously not a nickname I’d recommend in modern times!

German nicknames for Elisabeth:

29. Bettina.

30. Bettchen.

31. Ilse/Ilsa.

32. Liesel/Liesl.

33. Liese. This is also Dutch.

34. Else. This is also Scandinavian and Dutch.

35. Elise. This is also Dutch and Scandinavian.

36. Lilli/Lili.

37. Lies. This is also Dutch, and obviously not a name I’d recommend in an Anglophone country.

38. Liesa.

Dutch nicknames for Elisabeth:

39. Betje.

40. Els.

41. Elsje.

42. Liesje.

Other nicknames:

43. Babette is a French nickname for Élisabeth.

44. Špela is a Slovenian nickname for Elizabeta.

45. Eliška is a Czech and Slovak nickname for Alžběta.

46. Erzsi is a Hungarian nickname for Erzsébet.

47. Bözsi is an alternate nickname for Erzsébet.

48. Zsóka is another nickname for Erzsébet.

49. Elża is a Polish nickname for Elżbieta.

50. Elżunia is another Polish nickname.

51. Jela is a Serbian nickname for Jelisaveta.

52. Jelica is another Serbian nickname.

53. Liisa is an Estonian nickname for Eliisabet.

54. Liisu is also Estonian.

55. Liisi is another Estonian nickname.

56. Liis is also Estonian.

57. Eliso is a Georgian nickname for Elisabed.

58. Veta is a Macedonian nickname for Elisaveta.

59. Beti is also Macedonian.

60. Elzė is a Lithuanian nickname for Elžbieta.

The many forms of Helen

Once a Top 10 name in the U.S., spending many years as high as #2, the name Helen has now slipped to #419. It’s had a similar downward slide in Canada and the U.K. However, it’s a solid classic which ages very well, and has so many lovely forms in other languages.

1. Helena is my favorite form of the name, used in German, Czech, Dutch, Polish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovenian, Slovak, Catalan, Portuguese, Galician, Icelandic, Estonian, Finnish, and Croatian. The Hungarian form is Heléna. My favorite pronunciation is Heh-LAY-nah. It can also be pronounced with a silent H, as in Galician and Portuguese.

2. Elena is Spanish, German, Bulgarian, Romanian, Macedonian, Slovak, and Lithuanian.

3. Yelena is Russian. Besides Lena, one of the base nickname forms is Lyolya.

4. Jelena is Serbian, Estonian, Latvian, Slovenian, Lithuanian, and Croatian. An alternate Latvian form is Jeļena.

5. Hélène is French. This was one of my least favorite characters in War and Peace!

6. Heleen is Dutch.

7. Ellen was never quite as popular as Helen, though it enjoyed many years in the Top 100. As of 2015, it had dropped to #705 in the U.S. It’s more popular in Europe, at #18 in Sweden, #23 in Finland, #29 in Denmark, #56 in Ireland, #82 in the Czech Republic, and #89 in Northern Ireland.

8. Elin is Welsh and Scandinavian. This name is quite popular, at #16 in Switzerland, #25 in Iceland, #30 in The Netherlands, and #37 in Sweden.

9. Ileana is Romanian, Italian, and Spanish. Romanian diminutives are Ilinca and Lenuța. This was the name of the youngest daughter of the awesome Queen Marie of Romania, and from all accounts was a truly lovely, caring, compassionate person.

10. Ilona is Hungarian.

11. Elina is Swedish and Finnish. The Latvian version is Elīna, and the Old Norse form is Elína.

12. Elaine is English, adopted from an Old French form of Helen.

13. Elene is Georgian and Greek.

14. Eleni is another Greek form.

15. Helene is German and Scandinavian.

16. Eliina is Finnish.

17. Elen is Welsh.

18. Olena is Ukrainian.

19. Léan is Irish.

20. Alena is Belarusian.

21. Elna is a southern Swedish form of Elin, as well as a Dutch and Danish nickname for Helena.

22. Halena is an obsolete Ukrainian form.

23. Heghine is Armenian.

24. Héilin is another Irish form.

25. Heleainná is Sami, a native Siberian language. A simpler Sami form is Helená.

26. Heleni is Brazilian–Portuguese.

27. Heleno is Esperanto, and yes, that is supposed to be a female name. Traditionally, O is a feminine ending in Esperanto, though many female Esperantists have modified their names to end in the more familiar A.

28. Helina is a rare Estonian and obsolete Swedish form.

29. Helle is Estonian.

30. Léana is another Irish form.

“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.