Xanthos and Xenokleia

Detail of Triumph of Achilles, by Franz von Matsch, 1892

Xanthos (Xanthus) is one of two immortal horses most famously owned by the great hero Achilles. The other horse was Bailos (Bailus). When King Peleos of Phtia married sea goddess and sea nymph Thetis (a Nereid), Poseidon gave him the horses as a wedding present. Later, Peleos gave them to his son Achilles.

Xanthos and Bailos drew Achilles’s chariot during the Trojan War. The Iliad also mentions a third horse, Pedasos. Though Pedasos was mortal, he easily kept up with the two immortal horses.

Sadly, Pedasos was killed by Prince Sarpedon of Lykia. The spear had been aimed for Achilles’s dear friend Patroklos (who may or may not have been his lover), but got Pedasos instead.

Automedon with the Horses of Achilles, by Henri Regnault, 1868

Patroklos fed and groomed the horses, and formed a very close bond with them. He was the only one who was able to fully control them. After Patroklos was killed by Prince Hector of Troy, Xanthos and Bailos stood still on the battlefield and wept.

Achilles took Xanthos to task for letting Patroklos be slain, and Hera violated her own Divine laws by giving Xanthos speech. Xanthos told Achilles a god had killed Patroklos, and that soon Achilles too would be slain by a god. The Furies then rendered Xanthos speechless once more.

Xanthos means “yellow.” Related feminine names are the gorgeous Xanthe, Xanthia, and Xanthina. This is also the root of my favouritest synonym for blonde, “xanthochroid.”

Priestess of Delphi, by John Collier, 1891

Xenokleia (Xenoclea) was the Pythia (High Priestess) by the Oracle of Delphi. Though many other things in Greek mythology are the work of rich imaginations, the Oracle was a real thing, with obvious historical evidence.

Hercules came to the Oracle after throwing Prince Iphitos of Oechalia off a wall in Tiryns. He was having nightmares, and wanted to find out how to stop them. Hercules also wanted to know how to gain atonement for what he’d done. Xenokleia refused to help him, since he hadn’t yet purified himself from his shocking crime. She was also stunned at what he’d done.

Xenokleia addressed him, “You murdered your guest, I have no oracle for such as you.” Hercules was so pissed by this response, he absconded with Xenokleia’s Delphic tripod, the three-legged seat on which the Pythia sat. He refused to return it until she gave him an oracle.

Apollo interceded, and Hercules got into a fight with him. Zeus had to intervene to get them to stop fighting. After the tripod was returned, Xenokleia bathed in the nearby Castalian Spring to purify herself in preparation for giving an oracle.

Xenokleia told Hercules he could only purify himself by serving as a slave for a year. The price he’d fetch would go to Iphitos’s kids, to compensate for his death. Hercules asked who’d buy him, and Xenokleia said it’d be Queen Omphale of Lydia. Hercules agreed to the terms, and began his year of slavery.

The fight between Hercules and Apollo is depicted on a number of Ancient Greek vases.

Xenokleia means “foreign glory,” derived from xenos (foreign, strange) and kleos (glory). The male form is Xenokles.

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The many forms of Cecilia

Cecilia is one of my favoritest female names, the name I’ll use if I ever have a potential second daughter. I’ll be naming my first potential daughter Anastasiya Alice, but if there’s a #2, her name will be Cecilia Echo. My love for this name is due in large part to how that was the name of my third journal, whom I kept from 4 October 1993–25 January 1996. Cecilia remains my dearest journal, due to everything I went through when I was writing in her. I named her after the song.

Cecilia does mean “blind,” but it has such a beautiful sound, and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Originally, the spelling Cecily was used after the Normans brought it to England. The Latinate spelling Cecilia came into popular use in the 18th century.

This spelling is used in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, and the Scandinavian languages. The Hungarian, Slovak, and Portuguese version is Cecília, and the Icelandic version is Cecilía. Other forms include:

1. Cécile is French and Dutch.

2. Cecilie is Czech, Norwegian, and Danish. The last two vowels are pronounced separately, not together.

3. Caecilia is German, and the original Latin form. This spelling makes me think of caecilians, an aquatic amphibian that looks like a big worm. Some people keep them as pets. It’d be really cool on someone who keeps caecilians!

4. Cäcilie is German.

5. Cäcilia is another German form.

6. Sìleas is Scottish.

7. Cecylia is Polish.

8. Cecilija is Slovenian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

9. Tsetsiliya is Russian. As much as I adore Russian names, this just looks weird written out. It also calls to mind tsetse flies.

10. Síle is Irish. The most common Anglicization is Sheila.

11. Aziliz is Breton.

12. Cecía is Galician.

13. Kaikilia is Greek.

14. Kikilia is Hawaiian.

15. Kikil is Manx.

16. Icía is another Galician form.

17. Koikille is Basque.

18. Seljo is Sami, a native Siberian language.

19. Sesili is Georgian.

20. Sesselja is a lesser-used Icelandic form.

21. Tsetsilia is Georgian. I feel about this spelling the same way I do about the almost-identical Russian spelling.

22. Xixili is a rare Basque form.

23. Zëss is Luxembourgish.

24. Zezili is another Basque form.

25. Zezilia is Medieval Basque.

26. Zezilli is yet another Basque 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.

Xanthippe and Xerxes

X

Xanthippe Pours Water over Socrates, by Luca Giordano

Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates, has unfortunately been assigned a very negative, nasty reputation which I’m inclined to believe is as false as the bad reputations given to women like Queen Jezebel and Countess Erzsébet Báthory.

Xanthippe was probably much younger than Socrates, possibly up to 40 years younger. They had three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, and Menexenus. It’s believed she came from a very prominent family, since names with the hippos element often belonged to people of aristocratic descent. It was also the custom to name the first son after the more illustrious grandfather, and her first son was named for her father instead of Socrates’s father.

Xanthippe is the feminine form of Xanthippos, which means “yellow horse,” from the elements xanthos (yellow) and hippos (horse). It’s come to be slang for a shrewish, naggy woman, thanks to the reputation assigned to Xanthippe thousands of years ago. Even if she were argumentative, so freaking what? If she’d been a man, no one would’ve made such a huge, scandalous deal out of it! The name is still used in Greece, though usually with the spelling Xanthippi.

King Xerxes I (519–465 BCE), Copyright Mbmrock

King Xerxes I was the son of King Darius the Great and Queen Atossa, and is believed to have been King Achashverosh of the Book of Esther, since Achashverosh “translates” as Xerxes. He ruled the Persian Empire at its height, and conquered even more land than his father.

Xerxes is mentioned in Canto XXVIII of Purgatorio:

Three paces the stream parted me from her [Matilda];
But Hellespont, where Xerxes bridged the strait
That still makes human vaunt wear a bridle,
Endured not from Leander keener hate,
‘Twixt Sestos and Abydos full in foam,
Than this from me, because it closed the gate.

Xerxes is mentioned again in Canto VIII of Paradiso, as one of a list of different types of professions. I’ve been passionately in love with Dante for 12 years now, but even I have to admit the dated translation I have often makes it kind of hard to understand what’s going on or being said at first reading!

Xerxes is the Greek form of Khshayarsha, which means “ruler over heroes.”

Xiomara and Xochipilli

X

Xiomara is one of my favouritest female X names, from one of my favouritest letters. Getting the chance to use an X name besides the tired old Xavier is like finding a needle in a haystack, so why not go for it every time you have the chance? Xiomara, pronounced ZEE-o-mara or SEE-o-mara, may be an old Spanish form of Guiomar, which in turn is derived from Wigmar, a Germanic name meaning “famous battle.”

Xochipilli, pronounced Shok-ih-PIL-ee, is, as can probably be deduced from the spelling, an Aztec (Nahuatl) name. The original bearer was the god of games, love, flowers, song, beauty, and art, and the twin brother of Xochiquetzal. The name means “flower prince.”

Xochipilli was also one of the deities responsible for fertility and agricultural produce, the patron of writing and painting (as Chicomexochitl and Macuilxochitl), and, according to some sources, the patron of male prostitutes and gay people. He’s depicted as wearing an oyohualli talisman, a teardrop-shaped pendant made from mother-of-pearl.