Zethos and Zeuxippe

Copyright Rufus46

Zethos (Zethus) and his twin brother Amphion have quite an unusual paternity. Zeus, in the form of a satyr, raped their mother Antiope (who was married to another man), but he’s only the father of Amphion. King Epopeos of Sikyon fathered Zethos.

Out of shame, Antiope left them to die of exposure on Mount Kithairon, but they were rescued and brought up by shepherds. Antiope was punished (as though the rape and pregnancy were her fault!) by being enslaved to Queen Dirce of Thebes, her uncle’s wife. Dirce treated her very cruelly, and she eventually escaped. In a rather predictable plot twist, Antiope found shelter in the very house where Zethos and Amphion lived.

Dirce tracked her down, and ordered Zethos and Amphion to tie Antiope to a bull. They were about to do it when the shepherd who’d raised them revealed the truth of their birth. Dirce was the one who was tied to the bull and killed in Antiope’s place. Zethos and Amphion also wanted to kill Dirce’s husband, King Lykos, but Hermes intervened to stop it.

Zethos and Amphion gathered an army and conquered Thebes. Lykos abdicated, and gave power to Zethos and Amphion. They were co-rulers. Zethos became a hunter and herdsman, while Amphion became a musician and singer after Hermes taught him how to play a golden lyre.

Together, Zethos and Amphion built the walls around the Kadmeia, the Citadel of Thebes. Zethos struggled with carrying the heavy stones, but all Amphion had to do was play his lyre, and the stones would follow him and settle into place.

Zethos married Thebe, after whom their city was named, while Amphion married the famous Niobe. In one version, Thebe accidentally killed their only son, which led to Zethos’s suicide. In The Odyssey, Thebe is referenced as having killed her son Itylos in a fit of madness, and then became a nightingale.

Hylas and the Nymphs, by John William Waterhouse, 1896

Zeuxippe is the name of five women in Greek mythology, and the only female Z name I could find. The name means “bridled horse,” derived from zeuxis (bridle, yoke) and hippos (horse).

One Zeuxippe was Queen of Athens, consort of King Pandion I. She was a Naiad (nymph) of an Athenian well or fountain, and a sister of Praxithea, who was Pandion’s mother. Thus, her husband was her blood nephew. Those ancient Greeks loved keeping it in the family!

Philomela And Procne, by Elizabeth Jane Gardner

Zeuxippe’s children were Boutes (a priest of Athena and Poseidon, and married to his blood niece); Erechtheus (twin of Boutes, and later King of Athens); Prokne (Queen of Thrace); and Philomela. Prokne’s husband, King Tereus, raped Philomela when she was visiting, and cut her tongue out so she’d never tell anyone.

Philomela wove a tapestry with letters about what had happened, and sent it to Prokne. In revenge, Prokne killed her son Itys and served him to Tereus. Once Tereus discovered what had happened, he tried to murder them, but all three were transmogrified into birds. Philomela became a swallow, Prokne became a nightingale, and Tereus became a hoopoe. Some versions switch the birds the sisters became.

Priapus and Polyxena

Warning: If phallic images in art (beyond regular artistic nudity) offend you, this post isn’t for you.

Priapus (Priapos) is a minor fertility god, and protects livestock, fruit, gardens, bees, merchant sailors, and male genitalia. He’s routinely depicted with a permanent, oversized erection. Indeed, his very name is the origin of the English word “priapism,” an erection lasting over four hours in the absence of sexual activities.

Priapus is variantly described as the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus or Dionysus and Chione, as well as the son of Zeus, Hermes, or Pan. Other sources list him as Hermes’s father. Hera cursed him with ugliness, impotence, and foul-mindedness while he was in utero, in revenge for Prince Paris of Troy having judged Aphrodite as more beautiful than Hera.

The other deities refused to let Priapus live on Mount Olympus, and threw him earthside. He landed on a hill, and was raised by the shepherds who found him. Later, he joined Pan and the satyrs.

Priapus once tried to rape the humble, modest goddess Hestia when she was asleep, but a donkey’s braying made Priapus lose his erection, woke Hestia up, and thwarted the assault. This gave him a burning hatred of donkeys, which became his sacrificial animal.

Another time, he tried to rape the nymph Lotis when she too was asleep, but a donkey’s braying thwarted him yet again. Lotis awoke and ran away, leaving the other deities to laugh at Priapus. In some accounts, the deities turned her into a lotus tree to escape Priapus.

Worship of Priapus was more a rural phenomenon outside of his home region of Lampsakos. People in the countryside saw him as a patron of sailors, agriculture, fishers, and others in need of good luck. His presence was believed to avert the evil eye. In Bithynia (now northwestern Asian Turkey), he was viewed as a tutor to the god Ares in infancy.

People in urban areas saw him as a joke, not a serious deity. In later antiquity, his worship was seen as a cult of sophisticated pornography. Into the Middle Ages, he was invoked as a symbol of fertility and health. In the 13th century, a lay Cistercian brother erected a statue of Priapus to stop an outbreak of cattle disease.

In the 1980s, in Montréal, D.F. Cassidy founded the St. Priapus Church, a predominantly gay male community focused on worship of the phallus. During services, everyone but the priest is naked. (Warning: Link NSFW or under 18!)

Priapus is of unknown etymology. It may be pre-Greek.

The Sacrifice of Polyxena, by Nicolas Prévost

Polyxena (Polyxene) was the youngest daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and the Trojan version of Iphigenia. An oracle said Troy wouldn’t be defeated if Prince Troilos lived to age twenty. With that in mind, Athena encouraged Achilles to seek him out.

Troilos and Polyxena rode out to get water from a well in the town of Thymbra, and Achilles was overcome with lust for both of them. At this time, Achilles was still in mourning for his dear friend Patroklos, who may or may not have been his lover. Polyxena and Troilos ran away, but Achilles caught Troilos by the hair and dragged him off his horse.

Troilos escaped to a nearby temple of Apollo, but Achilles followed him and beheaded him by the altar, then mutilated Troilos’s body. Achilles continued pursuing Polyxena, and struck up a rapport with her. He found her words comforting in the wake of Patroklos’s death. Achilles trusted her so much, he told her of his only vulnerability, his heel.

Polyxena’s brothers Paris and Delphobos ambushed Achilles and shot him in his heel, with an arrow soaked in poison and guided by Apollo. In some versions, Polyxena kills herself from guilt, while in others, Achilles’s ghost demands the Greeks sacrifice her to appease the wind needed to take them home. Polyxena was eager to die as a sacrifice for such a great hero instead of as a slave. Neoptolemos, Achilles’s son, carried out the sacrifice.

Polyxena means “many foreigners,” “many guests,” or “very hospitable.” It’s derived from polys (many) and xenos (guest, foreigner), or xenia (hospitality to guests). Other forms of the name include Polyxène (French), Polyxeni (modern Greek), Poliksena (Russian and Polish), Polissena (Italian), Políxena (Spanish), Pulisena (Medieval Italian), Polikseni (Albanian), and Poleksija (Serbian). My character Alya (Aleksandra) Minina names her daughter Poliksena, Polya for short, since she’s not exactly the type to use an ordinary name like Natalya or Olga.

The many forms of Patrick and Patricia

Though I don’t have a pleasant association with St. Patrick’s Day, owing to that being my uncle’s Jahrzeit (death anniversary), it’s only appropriate to mark the holiday with a post about the names Patrick and Patricia.

Patrick is an English, Anglicized Irish, German, and French name. It comes from the Latin name Patricius, which means “nobleman.” In the 5th century, a Romanized Briton named Sucat adopted the name Patrick. In his youth, he was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders, and escaped after six years. He later became a bishop, and is traditionally considered to be the one who Christianized Ireland. He’s also Ireland’s patron saint.

Though the name Patrick was used in England and continental Europe during the Middle Ages, it wasn’t typically used in Ireland itself until the 17th century. The Irish had considered it too sacred for everyday usage. In the centuries since, Patrick has become very common in Ireland. It was #16 there in 2015.

Other forms of the name:

1. Patrik is Swedish and Hungarian, as well as used in the various Slavic languages.

2. Pádraig is the original Irish form. The alternate form Pàdraig is Scottish.

3. Pádraic is an alternate Irish form.

4. Padrig is Breton and Welsh.

5. Patrice is French.

6. Patrizio is Italian.

7. Pherick is Manx.

8. Patrício is Portuguese. The alternate form Patricio is Spanish.

9. Patryk is Polish.

10. Patariki is Maori.

11. Patrek is Icelandic.

12. Patrici is Occitan and Catalan.

13. Patrekr is Old Norse.

14. Patriciu is Romanian.

15. Patrikas is Lithuanian.

16. Patriko is Esperanto.

17. Pátrikur is Faroese.

18. Patrizju is Maltese.

19. Patrycjiusz is Polish.

20. Patrikki is Finnish. This name is very rare.

21. Patriks is Latvian.

22. Poric is Welsh.

23. Patrekur is Icelandic.

24. Pàtric is Catalan.

25. Patrikios is Greek.

26. Patrycjusz is an alternate Polish form.

Feminine forms:

1. Patricia is English, Spanish, Latin, and German. This name was super-popular in the U.S. from the 1920s to the early 1970s, spending 1929–1966 in the Top 10. By 2015, it had dropped to #805. The alternate form Patrícia is Portuguese and Slovak.

2. Patrizia is Italian.

3. Patricie is Czech. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

4. Patrycja is Polish. The most common nickname form is Patka.

5. Pádraigín is Irish.

6. Patrice is an alternate English form. As a French name, this is exclusively masculine.

7. Patricija is Slovenian and Croatian. The alternate form Patrīcija is Latvian.

8. Patricea is Romanian.

9. Patrike is Basque. This is a modern, not traditional, name, and is very rare.

10. Patrisía is Icelandic. This is a modern, not traditional, name.

11. Patritsiya is Russian.

The many forms of Peter

Peter has long been my next-favorite male name, after only Samuel. If I ever have kids, and I have more than one boy, I’m naming my hypothetical future second son Peter. It’s such a lovely, classic, versatile name, and has surprisingly never been in the Top 10. It doesn’t feel oversaturated or unoriginal like some other perennially popular names might.

Other forms of Peter include:

1. Pierre. I’d assume most folks are very familiar with the French form of the name. Pierre was also my favoritest character in War and Peace. He was so awesome, and so easy to form a mental picture of. I also really respected how he and Natasha didn’t get together until Natasha was a grown adult and their seven-year age difference had levelled off a bit.

2. Pedro is the Spanish and Portuguese form.

3. Pietro is Italian.

4. Petar is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Croatian.

5. Boutros is Arabic. Variant forms include Butrus and Botros.

6. Petros is Greek.

7. Bedros is Armenian.

8. Petro is Ukrainian and Esperanto.

9. Peder is the Scandinavian form.

10. Pieter is Dutch. Nicknames include Piet and Pietje.

11. Pyotr is Russian, with the adorable nickname form Petya.

12. Petras is Lithuanian.

13. Per is Breton, and an alternate Scandinavian form. Perig is the Breton nickname.

14. Petru is Romanian and Corsican.

15. Piotr is Polish.

16. Petre is Georgian, Macedonian, and Romanian.

17. Pitter is Limburgish. The nickname is Pit.

18. Petr is Czech.

19. Peru is Basque.

20. Petri is Finnish, and an alternate Basque form. Other Finnish forms are Petteri and Pietari. The nickname is Pekka.

21. Peeter is Estonian.

22. Petur is Faroese. The Icelandic form is Pétur.

23. Pika is Hawaiian.

24. Petera is Maori.

25. Piers is the Medieval French form.

26. Pèire is Occitan.

27. Peadar is Scottish and Irish.

28. Pedr is Welsh.

29. Péter is Hungarian, with the nickname Peti.

30. Petrus is Latin.

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.