Nestor and Nike

Achille Donne à Nestor le Prix de la Sagesse aux Jeux Olympiques, by Joseph-Désiré Court, 1820

Nestor was the King of Pylos, assuming the throne after Hercules killed his father Neleus and all of Nestor’s siblings. He was also one of the Argonauts, fought the Centaurs, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. Artemis sent this boar to terrorize Calydon after King Oeneus forgot to include her in the annual harvest sacrifices.

Though Nestor was quite old by the time of the Trojan War, he nevertheless went to fight with the Greeks. In The Iliad, he frequently gives advice to the younger soldiers, and advices Achilles and Agamemnon to make up after their falling-out. Nestor was too old to actually serve in combat, but he led the Pylian troops in a chariot, and had a golden shield.

Nestor’s advice is always respected and taken very seriously, due to his age and experience, but there’s also always a subtext of tongue-in-cheek humour at his expense when he speaks. Nestor always prefaces this sage advice by several paragraphs bragging about his heroic past exploits in similar situations. Much of his advice is also ineffective at best and potentially disastrous at worst.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus’s son Telemachus goes to Pylos to ask Nestor for any word of his father. Nestor truly exemplifies xenia (hospitality), but can’t provide any information. Telemachus then goes to Sparta to talk with Menelaus and Helen, but they don’t know anything either.

Upon his return to Pylos, Telemachus begs Nestor’s youngest son, Peisistratos, to let him go straight home to avoid yet another overwhelming show of xenia. Peisistratos agrees to the request, though he says Nestor will probably be really pissed when he discovers Telemachus has left.

Nestor means “homecoming,” and may also be related to nostimos, “blessed.” This name is also used in Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian. Other forms include Nestore (Italian), Nestori (Finnish), Néstor (Spanish, Galician), Nèstor (Catalan), Nesta (Jamaican Patois), Nestorie (Romanian), Nestório (Portuguese), Nestorio (Spanish, Italian), Nestoriusz (Polish), Nistor (Romanian), Nestoriy (Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian), and Nestorije (Serbian and Croatian).

Copyright Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011)

Nike (Roman name Victoria) is the Greek goddess of victory, speed, and strength, and the daughter of Titan Pallas and goddess Styx. She and her siblings, Kratos (god of strength), Bia (goddess of force and raw energy), and Zelos (daimon of zeal, envy, rivalry, emulation, dedication, and jealousy), are very close with Zeus. When Zeus was preparing to go to war against the Titans, Styx brought her kids to him as allies.

Though most Greek deities were no longer depicted with wings by the Classical era, Nike continued to be shown as such. She’s also frequently depicted as a Divine charioteer, flying around battlefields and rewarding the victors with fame and glory. This symbol of victory is the famous crown of laurel leaves. One of the many reasons I chose Dafna (Laurel) as part of my Hebrew name is because of this ancient symbolism.

Statue in Potsdamer Schloßpark, Germany, Copyright Lestat (Jan Mehlich), GFDL, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

Nike is also very close to Athena, and is believed to have been the broken statue in Athena’s outstretched hand in the Parthenon. Additionally, Nike is one of the figures most often found on Ancient Greek coins.

In the modern era, the sporting company Nike takes their name from the goddess. The Rolls–Royce hood ornament, Spirit of Ecstasy, is modelled after Nike, as is the Honda motorcycle company’s logo. Finally, Nike has been minted on the obverse of every Olympic medal since the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Nike means “victory,” but could also be related to neikos (strife, quarrel) and neikein (to quarrel with). The word itself may have pre-Greek origins. Related names are Nikian, Nikanor, and Nikon (the latter two of which are also used in Russian).

The many forms of Anastasia

The Russian name Anastasiya has long been my favouritest female name, though only with the proper Slavic pronunciation, Ah-nah-STAH-see-yah. The Anglo mangling Ann-a-STAY-zha is like nails on a chalkboard! This name has equivalents in a number of other languages, even if some people don’t think of it as particularly universal across the various Indo–European languages.

1. Anastasiya is Russian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian, with the lovely nicknames Nastya, Stasya, and Asya. I honestly never saw Nastya as containing the English word “nasty” until it was pointed out many years after I’d learnt the nickname. It’s pronounced NAHST-yah, not Nas-tee-a! I actually found the nickname Asya stranger and more potentially rude in an Anglophone country at first.

2. Anastasie is French. This is the middle name of my character Justine Troy (later Ryan).

3. Anastasia is Greek, Italian, Spanish, and English. Greek nicknames are Tasoula, Tasia, and Natasa. The variation Anastàsia is Catalan, and Anastasía is Icelandic.

4. Anastasija is Serbian and Macedonian, with the nickname Staša.

5. Anastazija is Slovenian and Croatian. Slovenian nicknames are Nastja and Staša, and the Croatian nickname is Staša.

6. Anasztázia is Hungarian. Nicknames include Anci, Neszti, Tázi, Aszti, Sztázi, Sztáza, Anaszi, Nesztike, Anaszti, Anaszta, and Sztázus.

7. Anastázie is Czech, with the last two letters pronounced separately instead of as one. It can also be written without the accent mark.

8. Anastazja is Polish.

9. Anastázia is Slovak.

10. Anastácia is Portuguese.

11. Anastagia is an Italian variation, as well as Haitian Creole.

12. Anastase is Basque.

13. Annstás is Irish, with the nickname Stéise.

14. Naśtaśśi is Chuvash, a native Siberian language.

15. Naśtuś is also Chuvash.

16. Nashchtuk is a third Chuvash form.

17. Nasta is Mordvin, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

“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.

The various forms of Natalie

The French and English name Natalie means “Christmas Day,” from the Latin natale domini. While the actual name Christmas has long since fallen out of common use, Natalie has been very popular through the ages. Here are the other forms of the name.

1. Natalya is Russian, with the nickname Natasha. An alternate form (which I can’t recall ever having seen) is Nataliya.

2. Natalija is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian. The nickname is Nataša (pronounced the same way as Natasha).

3. Nathália is Brazilian-Portuguese.

4. Natália is Slovak, Hungarian, and Portuguese.

5. Nataliya is Ukrainian.

6. Nathalie is a variant French and German form.

7. Natálie is Czech.

8. Natalia is Polish, Georgian, Romanian, Spanish, and Italian.

9. Natàlia is Catalan.

10. Natallya is Belarusian.

11. Natalía is Icelandic.

The many forms of Nicholas

December seems a germane time to have a post featuring the various forms of Nicholas, since Saint Nicholas is one of the best-known symbols of Christmas. This one of those universal names, with equivalents in so many different languages.

1. Nikolay is the Russian and Bulgarian form, with the cute nickname Kolya.

2. Mykola is Ukrainian.

3. Mikołaj is Polish. This was the real name of the great Copernicus.

4. Mikuláš is Czech and Slovak. Czech-only variants are Mikoláš and Mikula.

5. Nikolajs is Lithanian.

6. Nicolau is Portuguese, Catalan, and Galician.

7. Nikoloz is Georgian.

8. Miklavž is Slovenian.

9. Nicolae is Romanian. A variant form is Neculai. Nicknames are Nicu and Nicușor.

10. Niccolò is Italian. Possibly the most famous bearer is Machiavelli.

11. Nicolás is Spanish. A variant form is Nicolao.

12. Nikolaj is Danish and Slovenian.

13. Nikolaas is Dutch, with the alternate form Nicolaas. Nicknames include Klaas, Kai, Nico, and Niek.

14. Nikolaos is Greek, with the variant form Nikolas. I have a character who’s been going by Nikolas instead of Nikolay since he fell in love with the Ancient Greek philosophers when he was twelve. He’s just that type of head in the clouds intellectual.

15. Niklas is German, Finnish, and Scandinavian. Nicknames include Nils, Claes, Klaus, Kai, Kaj, and Klas.

16. Nikolao is Esperanto. The nickname is Niĉjo.

17. Nicolas is French.

18. Miklós is Hungarian, with the cute nickname Miki. Other nicknames include Miksa (Meek-sha), Mikici (Mee-keets-ee), Mikica (Mee-keets-a), and Mikus (Mee-kush).

19. Nioclás is Irish.

20. Nikora is Maori. This also serves as the Maori form of Nicole.

21. Nikola is Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian, Basque, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Hungarian. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see this working well in an Anglophone country, since many people would consider it feminine on account of the -a ending.

22. Niklaus is Swiss-German.