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.

Ariadne and Argos

a

This year, my A to Z theme on my secondary blog is names from Greek mythology. Since the Greek alphabet doesn’t have certain letters, I’ve featured names from other cultures’ mythologies on those days.

Ariadne in Naxos, by Evelyn De Morgan

Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphaë of Crete, granddaughter of Zeus and Europa, and niece of Circe. Minos put her in charge of his famous Labyrinth (build by Daedalus), where reparation sacrifices were made to either Athena or Poseidon. At the center of the Labyrinth was the Minotaur, with the body of a man and the head of a bull. He was the result of bestiality between Pasiphaë and a bull Minos had refused to sacrifice to Poseidon.

According to one version, Minos attacked Athens after his son Androgeos was killed fighting a bull in Marathon. Androgeos had been sent to fight this bull as a result of winning the Panathenaeic Games. After a number of adventures and interventions from Zeus, Minos asked the Athenians to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete for sacrifice to the Minotaur every nine or seven years.

One year, Prince Theseus, son of King Aegeus, took the place of one of the intended victims, with the intent to slay the Minotaur and end this slaughter. He left in a boat with a black sail, promising his father he’d return with a white sail if he succeeded.

Detail of La Légende Crétoise (a.k.a. Thésée et le Minotaure), by Maître des Cassoni Campana

When Ariadne saw Theseus, she fell in instalove, and helped him to escape the Labyrinth by giving him a ball of thread and a sword. Theseus promised to leave with her if he succeeded. Once inside, he followed Ariadne’s instructions from architect Daedalus, to tie the string to the doorpost, and to keep going forward, never left or right.

Theseus got to the center of the Labyrinth and killed the Minotaur, then found his way out by following the string. He escaped with all the other Athenians, as well as Ariadne and her little sister Phaedra. However, on instructions from Athena, he set sail without Ariadne, and she was heartbroken. Sadly, Theseus forgot to replace his black sail with a white one, and his father committed suicide from grief.

The god Dionysus saw Ariadne weeping, and married her out of pity. In other versions, Dionysus, not Athena, was the one who demanded Theseus abandon Ariadne. She either was killed by Perseus at Argos, or hanged herself.

Ariadne means “most holy,” from the elements ari (most) and adnos (holy). Other forms of the name are Ariadna (Russian, Polish, Georgian, Spanish, Catalan), Ariane (French, German, Dutch), Arianne (French), Arianna (Italian), Ariadnė (Lithuanian), Ariadni (modern Greek), and Arijana (Croatian).

Drawn by Louis-Frédéric Schützenberger, 1884

Argos was the famously loyal dog of the great hero Odysseus, waiting twenty long years for his master to finally come home. Since Odysseus’s home has been overtaken by persistent suitors trying to marry Penelope, he disguises himself as a beggar and only tells his son Telemachus of his true identity.

As Odysseus draws near his home, he sees Argos lying on a heap of cow dung, ignored and neglected. He’s a far sight from the young, healthy dog Odysseus left behind. Argos was known for his tracking skills, strength, and speed.

Argos recognises his old master immediately. He drops his ears and wags his tail, but isn’t strong enough to stand up. Odysseus can’t greet him without ruining his disguise, but he sheds a tear as he passes Argos. Shortly after he enters the house, Argos dies, having lived long enough to see his old friend again.

Argos means “swift.”

These names are going to the birds!

We’re probably all familiar with bird names like Robin and Lark, but what about some of the lesser-used bird names?

Unisex:

Agpa means “thick-billed Murre” (a type of bird) in Greenlandic.

Alaryn means “bird” in Welsh. This was more commonly used than Aderyn in the mid-20th century, during heavy immigration in the U.K.

Chim means “bird” in Vietnamese.

Jiguur means “bird” in Mongolian.

Manu means “bird” in Maori and Hawaiian.

Palila is the name of a bird in Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Polynesian.

Tairo means “little bird” in Arabic.

Tori means “bird” in Japanese.

Tui is a type of Maori bird.

Tziquin means “bird” in Tzeltal and Quiche-Kaqchikel.

Vireo is a type of U.S. bird.

Yonah means “dove” in Hebrew.

Female:

Aderyn means “bird” in Welsh. This is contemporary, not traditional.

Aëdon may mean “nightingale” in Greek.

Aerope may derive from an Ancient Greek word for the bee-eater bird.

Aghavni means “dove” in Armenian. I love this name.

Ainara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Alondra means “lark” in Spanish.

Andlib, or Andleeb, means “nightingale” in Persian.

Asuka is a Japanese name which is composed of the elements asu (“to fly” or “tomorrow”) and ka (bird). Many other meanings are also possible.

Aquila means “eagle” in Latin. The Russian form is Akilina.

Balbala means “nightingale” in Pashto.

Chipeta means “white singing bird” in Ute.

Cholena means “bird” in Lenape.

Columba means “dove” in Latin.

Deryn possibly comes from Aderyn, with the same meaning.

Durna means “crane (bird)” in Azeri.

Elaia means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Enara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Faigel means “bird” in Yiddish. Other forms include Faiga and Faigie. Beyond my frequent dislike of many Yiddish names, I’m not fond of this one because it looks too much like a certain homophobic slur. As a matter of fact, the diminutive form Faigeleh is indeed slang for a gay man!

Homa is a phoenix-like bird in Persian mythology. An alternate form is Huma.

Inyoni means “bird” in Zulu.

‘Iwalani means “heavenly frigate bird” or “heavenly man-of-war bird” in Hawaiian.

Karawek means “bird” in Thai.

Karlygash means “swallow (bird)” in Kazakh.

Kasika means “bird” in Thai.

Kayäkki means “bird” in Chuvash, a native Siberian language.

Kiya means “cooing of a bird” in Sanskrit.

Kría is a type of Icelandic bird.

Lóa means “golden plover” in Icelandic and Faroese.

Lushanya may mean “songbird” in Chickasaw.

Oanh means “oriole” in Vietnamese.

Paloma means “dove, pigeon” in Spanish.

Parastou means “swallow (bird)” in Persian.

Pëllumb means “dove” in Albanian.

Prinia is the Javanese word for a type of bird.

Sacagawea may mean “bird woman” in Hidatsa.

Sarika means “myna bird” in Sanskrit.

Seelasat means “oriole” in Vainakhish, an extinct language of North Transcaucasia.

Shakuntala means “bird” in Sanskrit.

Simurg means “eagle bird” in Pahlavi. This was a monstrous bird in Persian mythology.

Svala means “swallow (bird)” in the Scandinavian languages.

Toiba means “dove” in Yiddish.

Tsubame can mean “swallow (bird)” in Japanese.

Tzipporah means “bird” in Hebrew. Other spellings include Zipporah, Tziporah, Tzipora, Tsippora, Tsipora, Cipora, and Cippóra.

Tzufit means “hummingbird” in Hebrew.

Ulara means “snowcock” in Kyrgyz.

Usoa means “dove” in Basque. The name Uxue is etymologically related.

Yemima means “dove” in Hebrew. The popular Anglicization is Jemima.

Zarka means “crane (bird)” in Pashto.

Zitkala means “bird” in Sioux.

Male:

Andor means “Thor’s eagle” in Norwegian.

Anzu was a Mesopotamian demon depicted in the form of a lion-headed eagle or a huge bird breathing water and fire.

Arnkætill means “bird helmet” in Old Norse.

Colum means “dove” in Old Irish.

Dalbar means “chick (baby bird)” in Yakut, a native Siberian language.

Dalbaray means “white bird” in Yakut.

Énna possibly means “bird-like” in Irish.

Jonah is the English form of Yonah, and a male-only name. Other forms include Jonas (Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, and the name of the heroic Dr. Jonas Salk), Giona (Italian), Yunus (Arabic and Turkish), Jonáš (Czech and Slovak), Iona (Russian and Georgian), Jónas (Icelandic), Joona and Joonas (Finnish), Jona (Serbian and Croatian), Jónás (Hungarian), Jonás (Spanish), Jonass (Latvian), and Jonasz (Polish).

Kaur means “loon (bird)” in Estonian.

Mochni means “talking bird” in Hopi.

Nenaa’angebi means “beautifying bird” in Ojibwe.

Örn means “eagle” in Icelandic, Swedish, and Old Norse.

Orneus may mean “bird, chicken” in Greek.

Ornytos may be etymologically related to the Greek word ornis (bird, chicken).

Pungat means “bird” in Nivkh, an indigenous language in Russia and Japan.

Quetzun is a Guatemalan name referring to a type of bird.

Sibaguchu means “birdman” in Mongolian.

Stari means “starling (bird)” in Old Norse.

Tayfur may mean “bird” in Bashkir.

Þrǫstr means “thrush (bird)” in Old Norse.

Batty names

Happy Halloween! To cap off the month of Halloweeny names, I found some bat-related names. Most of these are bat genera which could also work as human names. As always, these are names which could be given to fictional characters or pets, not just babies.

Unisex:

Mimon is a South American bat genus. I could see this working on either sex, or possibly being a nickname of some sort.

Myskia means “bat” in Old Swedish and Medieval Scandinavian.

Male:

Acerodon is a type of megabat.

Antrozous is the formal name of the pallid bat.

Aproteles is the formal name of Bulmer’s fruit bat.

Ariteus is the formal name of the Jamaican fig-eating bat.

Artibeus is a genus of neotropical fruit bats.

Centurio is a type of wrinkle-faced bat.

Cistugo is a type of bat from southern Africa.

Desmodus is a genus of vampire bats.

Diaemus is the formal name of the white-winged vampire bat.

Eidolon is a type of megabat.

Histiotus is a genus of South American vesper bats.

Lasiurus is the formal name for the genus of hairy-tailed bats.

Myotis is the formal name for mouse-eared bats.

Natalus is a genus of funnel-eared bats.

Nycteris is a genus of hollow-faced bats.

Penthetor is the formal name of the dusky fruit bat.

Pharotis is the formal name of the New Guinea big-eared bat.

Philetor is a type of vesper bat, also called Rohu’s bat.

Rousettus is a type of Old World megabat or fruit bat.

Taphozous is a genus of sac-winged bats.

Vespertilio is the formal name for vesper bats.

Female:

Ametrida is the formal name of the little white-shouldered bat.

Anoura is a genus of leaf-nosed bat, many of which are tailless.

Asellia is a genus in the Old World leaf-nosed bat family.

Barbastella is a type of vespertilionid bat.

Boneia is a type of megabat, another name for the Manada fruit bat.

Carollia is a genus of short-tailed fruit bats.

Coleura is a genus of sac-winged bats.

Cormura is the formal name for the chestnut sac-winged bat, or Wagner’s sac-winged bat.

Dobsonia is a type of megabat.

Euderma is a type of vesper bat. Its common name is the spotted bat.

Ia is a type of vesper bat. This is also the name of two saints, Ia of Persia (4th century) and Ia of Cornwall (5th or 6th century). Additionally, this is a Georgian name meaning “violet,” from the Greek ion.

Kerivoula is a genus of vesper bats.

Lavia is a type of yellow-winged bat. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this as a forename for a real person!

Mălina is the Romanian form of the Slavic name Malina. It has a number of possible meanings, among them “bat.”

Mosia is the formal name for the dark sheath-tailed bat.

Murina is a vesper bat genus.

Mystacina is the formal name for New Zealand short-tailed bats.

Platalina is a type of long-snouted bat.

Rhogeessa is a genus of vesper bats.

Sturnira is a genus of New World leaf-nosed bats. The name means “starling” in Latin, after the ship which went on an 1836 voyage to Brazil and collected specimens.

Tadarida is a genus of free-tailed bats.

Tonatia is a genus of South and Central American phyllostomid bats. The common name is round-eared bat.

Vampyressa is a type of leaf-nosed bat. For obvious reasons, I’d most recommend this as a pet or character’s name!

Wolf names

Like the raven, the wolf too is an animal many people have spooky Halloween associations regarding. There are so many lovely wolf names, though almost all of them are male. Many of these names have Old Germanic or Anglo–Saxon roots.

Female:

Adolfa is a German and Dutch name derived from the Old Germanic name Adalwolf, means “noble wolf.” While the male form of this name is obviously one of the most taboo names in the Western world, the feminine form seems slightly more acceptable. This could also be used as a middle name if you want to honor an Adolf/Adolph in your family tree, but are off-put by using it as a forename. Potential nickname are Olfie, Ollie, Dolly, and Addie.

Ylva means “wolf” in the Scandinavian languages. (I honestly don’t understand why the term “she-wolf” is still used in the 21st century! It’s akin to terms like “a lady doctor” and “authoress.”)

Male:

Aatto, or Aatu, is the Finnish form of Adolf, which would doubtless be much more palatable to the vast majority of folks who find Adolf beyond the pale of onomastic redemption. The nickname form is Atte.

Adalwolf, the original form of Adolf, means “noble wolf.” This is a great choice if you really want to name your baby after an Adolf in your family who was born before the name became taboo.

Agilulf roughly means “blade wolf” in Ancient Germanic. This was the name of a 6th century king of the Lombards, who features in one of my favoritest Decameron stories. Agilulf discovers his wife, Queen Teudelinga, was tricked into sleeping with another man (a groom), but since the queen doesn’t suspect she was tricked, he says nothing.

Agilulf shows a lot of restraint and wisdom in dealing with the situation, and when the guilty party outsmarts him at his own game, Agilulf lets the matter drop with a cryptic warning to his servants. He’s determined to not acquire great shame at the expense of trivial revenge.

Arnulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements arn (eagle) and wulf (wolf).

Athaulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements atta (father) and wulf.

Beowulf may mean “bee wolf” in Anglo–Saxon.

Conan is an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “little wolf” or “little hound.”

Conor is an Anglicized form of Conchobhar, an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “wolf-lover” or “dog-lover.”

Conrí means “wolf king” in Irish Gaelic.

Cuán means “little wolf” or “little hound” in Irish.

Eadwulf is an Anglo–Saxon name derived from the elements ead (fortune, wealth) and wulf (wolf). It fell out of use after the Norman invasion and occupation.

Eardwulf is an Angli–Saxon name derived from the elements eard (land) and wulf.

Faolán means “little wolf” in Irish.

Gerulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements ger (spear) and wulf.

Gurgen is an Armenian and Georgian name meaning “little wolf.”

Ingolf is a Scandinavian and German name derived from the Old Norse Ingólfr, which is composed of the elements Ing (a Germanic god) and úlfr (wolf).

Ivaylo is a Bulgarian name which may be derived from the Old Bulgar name which meant “wolf.”

Loup is the French form of the Latin name Lupus, which means “wolf.” The Spanish form is Lope.

Lowell is an English name taken from the Norman French nickname louelle, “little wolf.”

Ludolf is a German and Dutch name derived from the Ancient Germanic Hludwolf, “famous wolf.”

Lyall is an English name taken from a Scottish surname, which in turn was derived from the Old Norse Liulfr, and thus ultimately related to the word úlfr (wolf).

Lycurgus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykourgos, derived from the elements lykos (wolf) and ergon (work, deed).

Lycus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykos (wolf).

Randolph, or Randolf, is an English name taken from the Ancient Germanic elements rand (rim [of a shield]) and wulf. The Ancient Germanic form is Randulf; the Scottish forms are Ranulf and Randulph; and the Ancient Scandinavian form is Randúlfr.

Rádúlfr roughly means “wolf counsel” in Ancient Scandinavian.

Rudolph means “famous wolf” in Ancient Germanic. (See my previous post, “All About the Name Rudolph!,” for more details.)

Sandalio is the Spanish form of the Latin Sandalius, which in turn comes from the Gothic Sandulf and means “true wolf.”

Ulf is a Scandinavian name derived from the Old Norse Úlfr, “wolf.”

Vakhtang is a Georgian name derived from the Old Persian varka-tanu, “wolf-bodied.”

Valko means “wolf” in Bulgarian.

Varg is a Norwegian name which means “wolf” in Old Norse.

Velvel means “wolf” in Yiddish, and is frequently used as a form of William. If my Samuel ever exists in reality and not just fantasy, his Hebrew name will be Shmuel Velvel.

Vuk means “wolf” in Serbian. A related name is Vukašin.

Wolf is English and German.

Wolfgang means “wolf path” in German.

Wolfram (one of my favoritest male names!) comes from the Germanic elements wulf and hramn (raven).

Wulfnod is an Anglo–Saxon name roughly meaning “daring wolf.”

Wulfric is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf power.” The Middle English form is Ulric, not to be confused with the German, Scandinavian, Czech, Slovenian, and Slovakian name Ulrich/Ulrik/Oldrich/Urh.

Wulfsige is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf victory.”

Wulfstan is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf stone.”

Zev means “wolf” in Hebrew. Other forms are Ze’ev and Zeevie.