Friday, 13 July 2012

Noble and Mythical Ladies: Part 2

File:Hans Makart 003.jpg

One post just wasn't enought to cover the lovely names from ancient Greece and Rome, so this is the continuation of yesterday's post.

Briseis - Although her name has no known meaning, Briseis features in the story of the Trojan War. She was a beautiful princess given to Achilles as a concubine. Achilles fell in love with her but was forced to give her up, leading him to stop fighting. Her name has evolved through the ages, eventually becoming Shakespeare's Cressida.

Clymene - There are number of mythical characters who carry the name, notably the mother of Hermes and an Oceanid. Some believe she was also the wife of Apollo. Her name has the possible meaning of 'renowned'.

Egina - Derived from Aegina, she was a nymph and daughter of the sea god Asopus. Legend goes that her son named an island after her, and today there is still a Greek island named Aegina. Egina, however, may seem a bit unfinished, perhaps because it sounds and looks so much like Regina.

Lamia - An Athenian heterea, she was the concubine of Demetrius I. Together they had a daughter called Phila. In Arabic, Lamia's name means 'shining, radiant'.

Lanassa -  She was the daughter of king Agathocles of Syracuse, and Demetrius I's fourth wife. She was previously married but did not want to share her husband with his other wives, which is why she sought out and married Demetrius.

Licinia - The name of a number of noble Roman women from the Licinia family. The most notable of them is Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of Theodosius II and Roman Empress. The family name probably, although uncertainly, has the meaning of 'one who permits'.

Lucilia - We're familiar with Lucy, Lucia, Luciana and Lucinda, so Lucilia isn't all that strange to our ears. I've found two ladies with the name: Lucilia, the wife of the Roman philosopher Lucretius, and the Dictionary mentions Lucilia, the mother of Pompey the Great, a political leader in the Roman Empire. Its meaning is likely derived from 'lux' or 'light'.

Messalina - Valeria Messalina was a very powerful, wealthy and influential woman in the Roman Empire. She was related to both Emperors Caligula and Nero, the latter of which also married her daughter, Claudia Octavia. Messalina has acquired a bad reputation, although we have to question how much of this is true and how much is the work of male historians through the ages harshly judging a powerful woman for not conforming to the expected female role. Although, really, Messalina would've likely had a better reputation if she hadn't tried to have her husband assassinated. Her name has connections to the city of Messana (now Messina, Sicily) which has the meaning 'middle'.

Rutilia - Unlike Messalina, Rutilia has been described as 'an example to others'. She was the wife of Marcus Aurelius Cotta. Her name is the feminine form of Rutilius meaning 'red'.

Tullia - Tullia Ciceronis was the beloved daughter of the great orator Cicero. After her death in childbirth, a grief-stricken Cicero wrote 'I have lost the one thing that bound me to life'. Although her name has no known meaning, her largely untold story is enough to captivate anyone.

Image: Charlotte Wolter as Messalina by Hans Makart