Laërtes and Leto

Laërtes was the father of the great hero Odysseus, and King of the Kephallenians. His parents were King Arkiseus and Queen Chalkomedusa of Ithaca. By some accounts, his paternal grandpap was none other than the always-horny Zeus. Besides Odysseus, he and his wife Antiklea were also the parents of daughter Ktimene. In some versions, Sisyphus is Odysseus’s blood father.

Laërtes was also one of the Argonauts, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian (or Aetolian) Boar. This boar, who was terrorizing the people and destroying their agriculture, had been sent by Artemis after King Oeneus forgot to include her during the annual harvest sacrifice. Awesomely, one of the hunters was a woman, the famous Atalanta.

Laërtes and Antiklea missed Odysseus terribly during the ten years of the Trojan War, so much so Antiklea died of grief. In The Odyssey, Odysseus visits the underworld and speaks with her, learning Laërtes “grieves continually,” lives in a hovel, sleeps on the ground, and dresses in rags.

After twenty long years, Odysseus finally makes it back to Ithaca, though he doesn’t come to see his father till after he’s killed all of Penelope’s very persistent suitors. At first, Odysseus keeps his true identity secret, and says he’s Quarrelman, only son of King Allwoes.

When Odysseus sees how sad Laërtes is after getting no news of his son, he reveals himself. To prove his identity, Odysseus recites all the Ithacan tree names Laërtes taught him as a boy. Afterwards, they join forces in fighting off the angry families of the slain suitors. Athena gives him extra vigour.

Laërtes means “fastening the people together,” derived from laos (people) and eirein (to fasten together). Eirein also means “to say, to speak.”

Birth of Apollo and Diana, by Marcantonio Franceschini, 1692–1709

Leto (Roman name Latona) is the daughter of Titans Koios (Coeus) and Phoebe, and the mother of deities Artemis and Apollo. Very predictably, her twins were sired by perpetual horndog Zeus. Also predictably, Hera was super-pissed off to discover Zeus had yet again whored around with another woman.

Hera made all parts of the Earth shun Leto, so she wouldn’t be able to give birth anywhere. Finally, Leto found an island not attached to the ocean floor, Asterios (now Delos). She promised Asterios wealth from the future worshippers who’d come in droves to this obscure birthplace of the two deities she was about to birth.

Leto birthed Artemis first, without any problems. She laboured nine days and nine nights for Apollo, with Artemis serving as the midwife. In another version, Leto birthed Artemis on the island of Ortygia, and then was helped by Artemis across the sea to Delos the next day.

Latona e i Pastori di Licia, by Annibale Carracci, ca. 1590

Chthonic (subterranean) monsters stalked Leto during her wanderings, and became her children’s enemies. One of them, Tityos, tried to rape Leto on Hera’s orders, but Artemis and Apollo felled him with their arrows.

After Artemis and Apollo grew up, Leto retreated into a quiet, matronly figure on Mount Olympus. She was particularly worshipped in Lycia (now Anatolia, Turkey, Asia’s westernmost land) and Crete.

Leto may come from lethe, “oblivion,” and lotus (a narcotic, amnesiac fruit in Greek mythology). It may also come from the Lycian lada, “white,” which may also be the origin of Leda.

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The many nicknames for Elizabeth

Elizabeth seems to be tied with Katherine as the name with the most nickname forms. Instead of only one or a few, there are numerous choices. Some of these might feel a bit dated, while others are more modern or timeless. There are also nickname forms for the many foreign versions.

1. Betty/Bettie was extremely popular both as a nickname and a given legal name during the first half of the 20th century.

2. Betsy not only is a nickname, but also works well (at least in my opinion) as a full name. It’s one of those nicknames that can go both ways, like Ella or Jack.

3. Bessie was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, but was gradually displaced by Betty.

4. Bess was never super-popular like Betty or Bessie, but it was more common in the late 19th century.

5. Buffy comes from a lisped or childish mispronunciation of the last syllable of Elizabeth.

6. Beth seems like one of the most timeless nicknames, not tied to one particular era.

7. Eliza can work as both a nickname and full name.

8. Elisa works as both a nickname and full name.

9. Ella seems more popular as a nickname for names like Isabella, Gabriella, and Arabella nowadays, but it also has precedence as a nickname for Elizabeth.

10. Ellie/Elly/Elli seems a little old-fashioned, but it’s been experiencing quite a comeback in recent years.

11. Elle probably got more popular after the Legally Blonde movies.

12. Elsie is a nickname I’ve always liked, though I know many people think it’s more of a cow’s name.

13. Elyse is a more uncommon nickname.

14. Elsa obviously got more trendy after a certain massively overplayed Disney song and overrated movie.

15. Lisa works as both a nickname and full name.

16. Libby/Libbie is a more old-fashioned nickname, but I think it’s cute.

17. Liddy is also rather old-fashioned.

18. Lise has never been particularly common.

19. Liza works as both a nickname and full name.

20. Liz is like Beth, very timeless and versatile.

21. Lizzie/Lizzy seems like more of a nickname for a young girl. I like how some names have nicknames that work for young children, as well as more mature nicknames one can graduate to (e.g., Lizzie and Liz, Joey and Joe).

22. Lizbeth/Lisbeth/Lisbet is an uncommon choice I’ve always liked.

23. Lizette/Lisette works as both a nickname and full name.

24. Lilibet/Lilibeth is a very distinctive nickname.

25. Lillian may have originated as a nickname for Elizabeth, but is now much more common as a name in its own right.

26. Liana is really cute, both as a nickname and full given name.

27. Lisie is really cute.

28. Tetty is obviously not a nickname I’d recommend in modern times!

German nicknames for Elisabeth:

29. Bettina.

30. Bettchen.

31. Ilse/Ilsa.

32. Liesel/Liesl.

33. Liese. This is also Dutch.

34. Else. This is also Scandinavian and Dutch.

35. Elise. This is also Dutch and Scandinavian.

36. Lilli/Lili.

37. Lies. This is also Dutch, and obviously not a name I’d recommend in an Anglophone country.

38. Liesa.

Dutch nicknames for Elisabeth:

39. Betje.

40. Els.

41. Elsje.

42. Liesje.

Other nicknames:

43. Babette is a French nickname for Élisabeth.

44. Špela is a Slovenian nickname for Elizabeta.

45. Eliška is a Czech and Slovak nickname for Alžběta.

46. Erzsi is a Hungarian nickname for Erzsébet.

47. Bözsi is an alternate nickname for Erzsébet.

48. Zsóka is another nickname for Erzsébet.

49. Elża is a Polish nickname for Elżbieta.

50. Elżunia is another Polish nickname.

51. Jela is a Serbian nickname for Jelisaveta.

52. Jelica is another Serbian nickname.

53. Liisa is an Estonian nickname for Eliisabet.

54. Liisu is also Estonian.

55. Liisi is another Estonian nickname.

56. Liis is also Estonian.

57. Eliso is a Georgian nickname for Elisabed.

58. Veta is a Macedonian nickname for Elisaveta.

59. Beti is also Macedonian.

60. Elzė is a Lithuanian nickname for Elžbieta.

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.

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.

Nocturnal names

Since I absolutely adore Halloween and everything about it, I’m going to be posting some lists of names with a Halloween feel. Let’s start with names whose meanings relate to night.

Male:

Erebus is the Latinized form of Erebos, which means “nether darkness” in Greek.

Nishant means “night’s end, dawn” in Sanskrit.

Orpheus may mean “the darkness of night” in Greek, derived from orphne (night).

Otieno means “born at night” in Luo, a Nilotic language spoken in Kenya and Tanzania.

Rajnish means “lord of the night” in Sanskrit.

Female:

Asra means “travel at night” in Arabic.

Avital means “my father is the night dew” in Hebrew.

Chausiku means “born at night” in Swahili.

Isra means “nocturnal journey” in Arabic.

Layla means “night” in Arabic. Spelling variations are Laila and Leila. The name also appears in Persian (LeylaLeila), Bosnian (Lejla), Azeri (Leyla), Georgian (Leila), and Turkish (Leyla).

Lilith means “of the night,” derived from the Akkadian lilitu. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the apocryphal tales of Adam’s first wife Lilith, who was banished because she refused to be a meek, submissive woman.

Midnight

Miyako can mean “beautiful night child” in Japanese.

Nisha means “night” in Sanskrit.

Nyx means “night” in Greek, after the goddess of night.