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 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 Victor and Victoria

I’ve always quite liked the name Victoria, which has been up and down the Top 300 in the U.S. over the years. Its rank has kept fluctuating in recent years, but it’s been holding steady in the Top 40. In 2015, it was #20. It’s also enjoying popularity in Chile (#27), Belgium (#24), British Columbia, Canada (#43), New South Wales, Australia (#50), Denmark (#24), Norway (#33), Portugal (#44), and Mexico (#14).

The name Victor isn’t quite so popular in the English-speaking world, and was down to #160 in the U.S. in 2015. It’s never charted any higher than #63, in 1918. However, it’s #7 in Belgium, #5 in Denmark, #33 in Spain, and #42 in France. The spelling Viktor is #3 in Iceland, #22 in Sweden, and #39 in the Czech Republic.

Forms of Victoria:

1. Victoria is English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Romanian, and sometimes German. This name was quite uncommon in the Anglophone world until Queen Victoria took the throne and began her long reign in 1837. The variation Victòria is Catalan, and Victória is Portuguese.

2. Viktoria is German, Greek, Scandinavian, and Estonian. The variation Viktória is Hungarian and Slovak, and Viktoría is Icelandic. Hungarian nicknames include Vica, Viki, Vikta, Vicu, Viktu, Vikica, and Vityi.

3. Viktoriya is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian, with nicknames including Vika and Vita.

4. Viktorija is Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Nicknames in the four Slavic languages include Vikica, Vika, and Viki.

5. Viktorie is Czech, with the nickname Viki. The last two letters of Viktorie are said separately, not as one.

6. Vittoria is Italian.

7. Vitória is Portuguese.

8. Victoire is French.

9. Wiktoria is Polish, with the nickname Wisia.

10. Wikolia is Hawaiian.

11. Vitòri is Provençal.

12. Victoriana is an elaborated Latin and Spanish form.

13. Wikitōria is Maori.

14. Vittorja is Maltese.

15. Vittoriana is an elaborated Italian form.

16. Viktoriana is a rare elaborated Swedish form.

17. Viktorina is an elaborated Hungarian form.

18. Fieke is Frisian.

19. Buddug is sometimes used as a Welsh form of Victoria.

20. Bikutoria is Japanese.

21. Barriaght is Manx. This is a modern, not traditional, name.

22. Victorique is a rare Québécois form. When used for a woman, it’s a feminine form of Victoricus.

23. Viktoryya is Belarusian. This may also be transliterated as Viktoryja.

24. Victorine is French.

Forms of Victor:

1. Victor is English, French, Romanian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Swedish. The variation Víctor is Spanish and Catalan.

2. Viktor is Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Icelandic, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Danish, German, Slovenian, Georgian, Greek, Estonian, Finnish, and Croatian. The Russian nicknames include Vitya and Vika, while the Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian nickname is Viki.

3. Viktoras is Lithuanian and Greek.

4. Viktors is Latvian

5. Veturían is an elaborated Aragonese form.

6. Vittore is Italian.

7. Wiktor is Polish, with the nickname Witek.

8. Bittor is Basque.

9. Gwythyr is Welsh.

10. Vítor is Portuguese and Galician.

11. Wiktoryn is Polish.

12. Wiktoriusz is also Polish.

13. Wiktorian is another alternate Polish form.

14. Vittorico is an elaborated Italian form.

15. Vittoriano is another elaborated Italian form.

16. Viktorin is a rare Russian, German, Slovenian, and Croatian form.

17. Viktorik is an alternate Croatian form.

18. Vihtori is Finnish.

19. Vihtor is also Finnish.

20. Vigtore is Greenlandic.

21. Victurnien is a rare, archaic French variation.

22. Victorin is a rare French and Romanian form.

23. Victorique is a rare Québécois form. When used for a man, it’s an alternate form of Victoric.

24. Victorien is an elaborated French form.

25. Victoric is French.

26. Victorico is Spanish.

27. Victoriano is an elaborated Spanish form.

28. Victoras is Romanian and Cypriot Greek.

29. Viktar is Belarusian.

30. Buadhach is Irish.

31. Vittorio is Italian.

32. Vittorino is yet another Italian form.

33. Victorino is an elaborated Spanish form.

The many forms of Simon

Though Simon was one of the names I gave to my marbles when I was a kid (yes, I actually named my marbles), it wasn’t a name I liked that much until I was about 24. I grew to associate that name with a geek and a wimp, but everything changed when I read Leon Uris’s Mila 18. Simon is the name of the head of the Ghetto Fighters, and hardly a wimp or geek. The famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was also hardly a milksop.

Regular readers of my main blog may remember I sleep with a giant frog named Simon, whom I’ve had for over five years now. He takes up half the bed, and is almost as big as I am. If only he’d turn into a prince as handsome as his namesake circa 1985 when I kiss him!

The spelling Simon is used in English, French, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Georgian. The variation Simón is Spanish, Símon is Icelandic, and Šimon is Czech and Slovak. Nicknames for the lattermost form include Šimůnek and Šimonek, and Sime is the Macedonian nickname. Hungarian nicknames include Simi, Simike, Simó, Simkó, Simku, and Simonka. Other variations are:

1. Shimon is the original Hebrew form. I think the nickname Shimmy is just so cute!

2. Szymon is Polish, and the spelling Mr. Uris should’ve used for his Mila 18 character. It’s baffling as to how he could do so much intense historical research for his novels, and then not use authentic Polish names for that book!

3. Simão is Portuguese.

4. Jimeno is an alternate Spanish form.

5. Ximeno is Medieval Spanish, though it may possibly derive from the Basque word seme, “son,” instead of being a form of Simon.

6. Ximun is Basque.

7. Simeon is Bulgarian and Serbian, and the name of Bulgaria’s last Tsar. His father, the heroic Tsar Boris III, died under suspicious circumstances during WWII. Simeon, who was born in 1937, was too young to ascend the throne in his own right, so his regents were his uncle, Prince Kiril; Prime Minister Bogdan Filov; and General Nikola Mihov. Simeon had to flee his homeland in 1946, and when he returned in 1996, he began a very successful political career which lasted until 2009. He’s never renounced his claim to the Bulgarian throne, and indeed is referred to as King of Bulgaria in all Bulgarian Orthodox services.

8. Shimmel is Yiddish.

9. Šimun is Croatian, with the nicknames Šime and Šimo. Without a háček, Simo is also the Serbian nickname. The variation Símun is Faroese.

10. Simion is an alternate Romanian form.

11. Semyon is Russian, with the nickname Syoma.

12. Simo is Finnish. The alternate form Simó is Catalan.

13. Siemen is Dutch and Frisian, with the nickname Siem.

14. Simen is Norwegian and West Frisian.

15. Simonas is Lithuanian.

16. Sīmanis is Latvian.

17. Simoni is an alternate Georgian form.

18. Seimon is Welsh.

19. Semaan is Aramaic, and very common for Middle Eastern Christians.

20. Sieme is West Frisian.

21. Siimon is Estonian and Finnish.

22. Simone is Italian, and not to be confused with the French feminine form of the same spelling. The variation Sîmóne is Greenlandic.

23. Cimone is Medieval Italian, and the name of the protagonist of one of my least-favorite Decameron stories. He throws his weight around until his crush finally gives in and marries him, and this is presented as a love story that began badly and ended happily. Even allowing for the standards of a much different era, Cimone came across as a total bully who couldn’t take no for an answer.

24. Sijmen is an alternate Dutch form.

25. Siman is Silesian–German.

26. Simit is Sami, a native Siberian language.

27. Simmá is also Sami.

28. Simmon is a third Sami form.

29. Sîmorne is Greenlandic.

30. Simu is Swiss–German.

31. Simuna is Finnish.

32. Sîmûne is Greenlandic.

33. Síomón is a rare Irish form.

34. Sum’an is Arabic.

35. Syman is Sorbian.

36. Szymek is Vilamovian, a Germanic language spoken in Poland.

37. Semen is Ukrainian, and one of those quintessential names I would NOT use in the Anglophone world, for reasons I don’t even have to explain! It’s not pronounced the same way in Ukrainian, but the spelling is still what it is!

Feminine forms:

1. Simone is French, with the nickname Simonette. The variation Simonė is Lithuanian.

2. Simona is Czech, Slovak, Italian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Lithuanian. The Italian nickname is Simonetta, though this is now frequently given as a legal name.  Another Italian nickname is Simonella.

The slight variation Šimona is Czech and Slovak (albeit lesser-used), with nicknames including Monuška, Monuša, Simonka, Simuša, Simuška, and Simča. The variation Símona is Icelandic.

3. Simä is Swiss–German.

4. Shamoun is Arabic.

5. Jimena is Spanish.

6. Ximena is Medieval Spanish, and one of my favouritest female X names.

7. Símonía is an alternate Icelandic form.

8. Szimóna is Hungarian.

9. Szimonetta is also Hungarian.

The many forms of George

Once a solid Top 5, Top 10, and Top 20 name in the U.S., George gradually began slipping down the popularity charts during the 1950s. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1992, when it was #95. As of 2015, it was #135. In England and Wales, it’s much more popular, at #4, and in New Zealand, it’s #15. The name is #20 in Romania.

I know a lot of people associate this name with a dumb farmer or an old man (plus certain political associations I’m sure we don’t need to be told about!), but I’ve always been fond of it. It was the name of the father of my country, George Washington, one of our greatest presidents ever, as well as George Harrison. It took quite a long time for my head to understand what my heart already did, but I now proudly acknowledge the fact that he’s become my favourite Beatle. It just feels right, even if it was hard to come to terms with the fact that John had stopped being my fave rave. He needed to be my favourite during one long period of my life, but now George feels right as my favourite.

George is used in English and Romanian. Other forms include:

1. Gheorghe is another Romanian form, and currently extremely popular. Nicknames are Ghiță and Gigi.

2. Gjergj is Albanian.

3. Giorgi is Georgian, with the nickname Goga.

4. Gorka is Basque.

5. Georg is German, Scandinavian, Icelandic, and Estonian. German nicknames are Jockel and Jörg.

6. Giorgio is Italian. I’ve always adored this name!

7. Jorge is Spanish and Portuguese.

8. Georges is French.

9. Georgiy is Russian, with the nicknames Gosha and Zhora.

10. Georgi is Bulgarian.

11. Jürgen is Low German. Without diacritical marks, Jurgen is Dutch.

12. Jørgen is Norwegian and Danish. Nicknames are Jørn and Jørg. The alternate Swedish form is Jörgen.

13. Georgo is Esperanto.

14. Jurgis is Lithuanian.

15. Georgijs is Latvian.

16. Georgs is also Latvian.

17. Juris is an alternate Latvian form.

18. Iuri is an alternate Georgian form.

19. Jiří is Czech. Nicknames are Jura, Jirka, Jíra, Jiřík, Jiříček, Jiránek, Jiroušek, and Jiřin.

20. Juraj is Slovak and Croatian. Nicknames are Juro, Jurica, and Jure.

21. Jurij is Slovenian and Sorbian. Nicknames are Jurica and Jure.

22. Jurriaan is Dutch.

23. Joeri is an alternate Dutch form.

24. Joris is Frisian and Dutch.

25. Sjors is an alternate Dutch form.

26. György is Hungarian, with the nickname Gyuri. The Hungarian GY sound is kind of like the dg in “edge.”

27. Đorđe is Serbian.

28. Đuro is Serbian and Croatian.

29. Đurađ is another Serbian variation.

30. Georgios is Greek.

31. Giorgos is a modern Greek variant.

32. Yiorgos is another Greek form.

33. Yorgos is yet another Greek form.

34. Kevork is Western Armenian.

35. Gevorg is Eastern Armenian.

36. Jory is Cornish.

37. Jordi is Catalan. The Gascon form is Jòrdi.

38. Jyri is Finnish.

39. Jyrki is also Finnish.

40. Yrjänä is another Finnish form. The nickname is Yrjö.

41. Gjorgji is Macedonian.

42. Geevarghese is Malayalam, a language spoken in India. The nickname is Varghese.

43. Jerzy is Polish, with the nickname Jurek.

44. Yuriy is Russian and Ukrainian, with nicknames including Yura, Yurik, and Yuryechka.

45. Yegor is Russian. This isn’t to be confused with the similar name Igor.

46. Seoirse is Irish.

47. Deòrsa is Scottish. Nicknames are Dod, Dode, and Doddie.

48. Seòras is an alternate Scottish form.

49. Siôr is Welsh.

50. Siors is also Welsh.

51. Siorus is a third Welsh form.

52. Chorche is Aragonese.

53. Đura is Serbian and Croatian.

54. Georgije is an alternate Serbian form.

55. Ġorġ is Maltese.

56. Hori is Maori.

57. Jore is Norman, a language spoken in northern France.

58. Jori is yet another Finnish form.

59. Jüri is Estonian.

60. Jurjen is West Frisian.

61. Siaosi is Tongan.

62. Xurde is Asturian, a language spoken in Spain.

63. Yagur is Kalmyk, a Mongolic language spoken in Russia, Kazakhstan, and China.