The many forms of Hercules

Though many people would consider Hercules to be too pompous, pretentious, and over the top for real-life usage, there are quite a few different forms of the name. Perhaps they might work well on a fictional character or pet, or one of the foreign versions might sound a bit less strange in the Anglophone world. It’s also just neat to see how names morph into other forms in different languages.

1. Hercules, the most familiar form in the Anglophone world, is actually the Latinized form of the Greek original. Though I normally prefer the authentic Greek spellings, this is one I’m too used to seeing in its historically Latinized form. The variation Hércules is Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Herakles is the Greek original, and means “glory of Hera.” The meaning is kind of ironic, given how much Hera hated him!

3. Herakleios is an elaborated Greek form.

4. Heraclius is the Latinized form of Herakleios. Two early saints and a 7th century Byzantine emperor bore this name.

5. Erekle is the historic Georgian form. Two kings from the Bagrationi Dynasty had this name.

6. Irakli is the modern Georgian form.

7. Irakliy is Russian.

8. Heraclio is Spanish. The variation Heráclio is Brazilian–Portuguese.

9. Iraklis is the modern Greek form.

10. Ercole is Italian.

11. Ercwlff is Welsh.

12. Hercule is French, and well-known as the name of detective Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery series.

13. Erco is Romansh, a Romance language spoken in southeastern Switzerland.

14. Gerakl is an alternate Russian form.

15. Herakliu is Albanian.

16. Herkules is Polish.

17. Iorcall is Scottish, in use since the Renaissance.

18. Heraklo is Croatian.

19. Herkül is Turkish.

20. Herculina is a feminine Latin form.

21. Eraclio is an alternate Italian form.

22. Heraklije is an alternate Croatian form.

Voluptas, Vervactor, Viduus, Viriplaca, Verminus, Venilia, Vagitanus, Vitumnus, and Volutina

Since no one in Greek mythology has a name starting with V, either in the original Greek or in one of the Latinized forms historically used, I decided to use Roman mythology for the V day. My original plan had been to use Roman names for the letters missing from Greek, but there are also certain letters not used in Latin.

I also couldn’t find much substantial information on any of the Roman V deities I tracked down, so I decided to feature a bunch of stubs today. Because I’m very superstitious about lucky vs. unlucky numbers and dates, I had to make it nine instead of leaving it at eight. As irrational as I know this is, I always try to avoid the number eight!

Voluptas, etched by Daniel Hopfer

Voluptas, or Volupia, is the daughter of Cupid (Eros) and Psyche, and the goddess of sensual pleasures. Her Greek name is Hedone, which means “pleasure.” It’s the root of the English word “hedonism.” Likewise, Voluptas also means “pleasure” or “bliss,” and is the origin of the English word “voluptuous.”

Vervactor is one of the twelve helper gods of the goddess Ceres, overseeing each step of the grain cycle. He’s the first one up, the god who plows. A priest would invoke the help of these twelve gods, asking for Divine help and protection every step of the way. Vervactor derives from vervago, “to break up,” and vervactum, “fallow ground.”

Viduus is the god who separates the body and soul after Death. The name means “void, bereft,” and is the source of the English words “widow” and “widower.” Interestingly, “widower” is one of the few words whose masculine form is piggybacked off the original feminine form, not the other way around (e.g., actor vs. actress, usher vs. usherette). While I normally avoid using suffixes denoting sex, “widower” is one of those words which still seems to require it.

Viriplaca is the goddess who soothes men’s anger. This was used as one of Juno’s added names, when she was invoked as a goddess to restore peace between a married couple. There was a sanctuary to her on Palatine Hill in Rome, where women went to pour out their hearts when their husbands had wronged them. Viriplaca derives from vir, “man,” and placare, “to appease.”

Verminus is the god who protects cattle from disease, and is possibly taken from the Indigetes, a conquered Iberian people. There were several altars to him in the Roman Empire. His name either derives from vermine, “gripe,” or vermino, “to have worms.” Related words include vermis (worm) and verminosus (wormy). You can guess where the English word “worm” came from!

Venilia is a goddess of the winds and sea, though according to Ovid and Virgil, she was a nymph and the wife of Janus or Faunus. A mountain on Venus is named for her. The name might be related to ventosus, “windy.”

Vagitanus (or Vaticanus) is the goddess who presides over a baby’s first cry and opens their mouths for this purpose. The name derives from vagitus, “crying, wailing, squalling.”

Vitumnus is the god who enables the quickening (the first fetal movements in utero). Some sources believe this is an aspect of Jove (Jupiter) instead of a separate deity. The name derives from vita, “life.”

Volutina is the goddess who causes envelopes (i.e., leaf sheaves) to form. The name is derived from involumenta, “swaddling,” and voluto, “to roll.”

Quiritis and Quirinus

The Quirinus section of this post is edited from last year’s A to Z post, since it’s hard to find significant deities whose names start with Q. Quetzalcoatl was out of the question, since my intent was to focus on deities who aren’t super-well-known.

Juno, by Jacques Louis Dubois

Quiritis is a Sabine goddess of motherhood, often associated with protection. I can imagine many a woman praying to her in the throes of childbirth, or for help and guidance with learning how to be a mother.

Quiritis is believed to be derived from the Sabine word quiris (spear, lance). She’s often depicted holding that weapon, presumably to defend someone or something. Perhaps because of this, she came to be associated with Juno (Iuno), the Roman equivalent of Hera. Juno is also frequently depicted holding a spear or lance, something which came from the earlier Quiritis.

Roman marriages traditionally included a ritual wherein the bride’s hair was cut or parted by a spear. Some scholars believe this was the influence of Quiritis and Juno’s association with marriage.

Juno was frequently worshipped under the name Juno Quiritis or Juno Curitis, and Juno Quiritis is said to be the only deity worshipped by all thirty curiae (military and political divisions) established by Romulus. By Campus Martius, an area of great religious, political, and military training importance, there was a temple to Juno Quiritis.

The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, by Nicolas Mignard, 1654

Quirinus is an alternate name for Romulus. Together with his twin brother Remus, he founded Rome. Later on, Quirinus/Romulus was elevated to deity status. Sources differ on whether the Roman god Quirinus is or isn’t one and the same as Romulus.

There are many versions of the twins’ origins, ancestry, and childhood, but all versions have a servant who can’t bring himself to murder the babies, and instead puts them in a basket on the banks of the Tiber River. The river floods and carries the twins downstream, unhurt. Tiberinus, a river god, makes the basket catch on the roots of a fig tree, and a wolf named Lupa discovers them and serves as their wetnurse. Picus, a woodpecker, feeds them.

The twins grew up as shepherds following their discovery by Faustulus, who took them to his hut and raised them with his wife Acca Larentia. The rest is history.

Quirinus came to stand for the Divine personification of the Roman people.

Quirinus is possibly derived from the Sabine word quiris (spear, lance). Other forms include Quirino (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Quirin (German), Quirijn (Dutch), Corin (French), Kyrinos (Greek), Kvirinas (Lithuanian), Kvirinus (Faroese), Kvirin (Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Croatian), and Kwiryn (Polish). A Dutch feminine form is Quirine.

Faunus and Frigg

Faunus is the horned Roman god of the forest, fields, and plains. He was called Inuus when he committed bestiality with cows. Though many people over the ages have considered him the Roman equivalent of Pan, many others have viewed them separately. The great poet Virgil, for instance, independently mentioned both Pan and Faunus in The Aeneid.

Faunus is the son of Picus, first King of Latium, and Canens, a nymph and the Divine personification of song. His paternal grandpap is Saturn (Kronos), and his maternal grandparents are Venilia (a goddess of the winds and sea) and Janus. Just like Pan was accompanied by many Paniskoi (little Pans), so too was Faunus accompanied by many Fauni. Hellenized Romans viewed these fauns as equivalent to the Greek satyrs, though the satyrs were followers of Dionysus, not Pan.

According to Virgil, Faunus came to Latium from Arcadia, bringing his people, and became a great king. His shade was called Fatuus, and consulted as a god of prophecy, complete with oracles, in the sacred grove of Tibur, on Aventine Hill in Rome, and around the well Albunea.

Scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro depicted these oracles in Saturnian verse when they were given orally. Other times, Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices transmitted to those who came to sleep within his precincts, on the fleeces of sacrificial lambs.

Faunus comes from the Proto–Indo–European word dhau-no, “the strangler,” which refers to the wolf, and the Daunians, an Iapygian  tribe who lived in pre-Rome Italy. Daunos in turn traces its linguistic origins to dhau, “to strangle.” This was an epithet for the wolf.

Frigg is the Norse goddess of wisdom and foreknowledge, and the wife of Odin. One of her children is Baldr, frequently viewed as a god of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, light, and purity. Frigg’s dwelling-place is Fensalir, a wetland. Even after Scandinavia was Christianised, Frigg continued to show up in folklore.

Frigg’s name is alternately recorded as Frea, Frige, and Frija. Some scholars believe she’s either one and the same as, or an aspect of, Fulla, a goddess traditionally considered to be Frigg’s sister. Additionally, a number of scholars also feel Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess.

Frigg is mentioned or featured in a number of Old Norse and Germanic poems, myths, folktales, and incantations. Among them are Lokasenna, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda cycle, in which Frigg gets into quite a fight with Loki after he accuses almost every woman by the feast of slutting it up; and Gylfaginning, another of the Poetic Edda. In the latter, Frigg plays perhaps her most important role.

Odin and Frigga, by Harry George Theaker

Baldr began having terrible dreams about his life being in danger, and told the other Æsir (the Old Norse pantheon of deities). They held a meeting and decided to “request immunity for Baldr from all kinds of danger.” Frigg got the elements (diseases, animals, the environment, stones, et al) to leave Baldr alone, but the Æsir began making fun of Baldr on account of his newborn invincibility.

Loki was particularly pissed, and, being a master trickster, went to Frigg in the form of a woman. Upon learning the other Æsir were shooting at Baldr, and that Baldr’s one weakness was mistletoe, Loki set off to kill him. He tricked Baldr’s blind brother Höðr into shooting Baldr. Everyone is overcome with grief, and Frigg’s son Hermóðr accepts her plea to go to Hel and bring Baldr back to Asgard. Sadly, Loki sabotages this rescue mission.

Frigg means “belovèd” in Old Norse, derived from the Proto–Indo–European pri, “to love.” The name of Friday comes from her name, since it means “Frigg’s day.” Today, the name Frigg is extremely rare in Scandinavia. Though it appears on the approved names list for Iceland, it’s not currently very popular there either.

The many Luc- names

I love how versatile the Indo–European names are. They have so many versions across widely differing languages, able to translate into all these languages and cultures. One of those universal names is Lucia/Lucius, which comes from the Latin word lux, “light.”

Male forms:

1. Lucius is Latin and English.

2. Loukios is Greek.

3. Lucio is Italian and Spanish. The Portuguese variant is Lúcio.

4. Lucjusz is Polish.

5. Lūcijs is Latvian.

6. Lucijus is Lithuanian.

7. Luciu is Sicilian.

8. Lucillus is an alternate Latin form.

9. Luzius is Swiss–German.

10. Lutsiy is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian.

11. Lucije is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

12. Lucianus is another Latin form.

13. Luciano is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

14. Lucien is French.

15. Łucjan (WOOTS-yahn) is Polish.

16. Lucian is English and Romanian. The Czech and Slovak form is Lucián.

17. Luken is Basque.

18. Luciaan is Dutch.

19. Lučiano is a rare Croatian form.

20. Lucijano is the more common Croatian form.

21. Lukyan is Russian and Ukrainian.

22. Luzian is German.

23. Lyutsian is Russian.

24. Lyuksen is Russian.

25. Lukian is Russian.

26. Lučano is Slovenian.

Female forms:

1. Lucia is Latin in origin, and is used in English, Romanian, Italian, German, Slovakian, and the Scandinavian languages. The Spanish variation is Lucía, the Portuguese form is Lúcia, and the Icelandic variation is Lúcía.

2. Lucilla is an Italian and Latin diminutive form.

3. Lucie is Czech and French, though with a pronunciation difference. Czech pronounces the last two vowels separately, instead of as one.

4. Lucille is the French form of Lucilla.

5. Lucinda is an elaborated form of Lucia, created by the great Miguel Cervantes in Don Quixote (1605).

6. Lucija is Slovenian, Serbian, and Croatian. The Latvian form is Lūcija.

7. Lucinde is the French form of Lucinda.

8. Łucja (WOOTS-yah) is Polish. This is the original birth name of my character Lucinda. Though she was born in the U.S., her parents were very Polish.

9. Lucila is the Spanish form of Lucilla.

10. Llúcia is Catalan.

11. Lucette is French, a diminutive of Lucie.

12. Liucija is Lithuanian.

13. Luus is Dutch and Limburgish.

14. Luce is a French and Italian variation of Lucia. This is also the Italian word for “light.”

15. Luzia is Portuguese and German. This isn’t to be confused with the very similar name Luiza! Though Lucia has long been the more common German form, Luzia is the older form, and has been gaining more popularity in recent years.

16. Luca (LOO-tsah) is Hungarian and Croatian.

17. Liùsaidh is Scottish.

18. Lucy is English, and has been used since the Middle Ages.

19. Lucetta is an English diminutive of Lucette. Shakespeare used it in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594).

20. Luciana is Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Portuguese. The Hungarian variant is Luciána, and the Brazilian–Portuguese variant is Lucianna.

21. Lucienne is French.

22. Lucina is derived from the Latin word lucus, “grove,” though it later came to be associated with all the other Luc- names. This was the name of the Roman goddess of childbirth.

23. Lucine is the French form of Lucina, and an alternate transliteration of the Armenian Lusine/Lusineh, though the Luc- root is just a coincidence in this case. It means “Moon” in Armenian.

24. Loukia is Greek.

25. Lleulu (HLYOO-loo) is Welsh.

26. Luchiya is Russian and Bulgarian.

27. Luciane is Swedish.

28. Lucienna is used in various languages.

29. Luçja is Albanian.

30. Lukene is Basque. Another Basque form is Luke, which I wouldn’t use in an Anglophone country due to the obvious pronunciation confusion.

31. Lûsîa is Greenlandic. The Finnish and Faroese form is Lusia.

32. Lusiana is Indonesian, and a rarer Romanian and English form.

33. Lukiana is Russian.

34. Lusiya is Christian Indian (i.e., Asian).

35. Lutsiya is Russian and Bulgarian.

36. Luxia is Basque and Sardinian, though very rare in the former and archaic in the latter.

37. Luziana is Basque and Brazilian–Portuguese.

38. Lukina is Russian.

39. Lyutsina is Russian.