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Category: classical baby names

ancient baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The Roman Empire reigned for more than five hundred years, led by 140 different emperors. In modern times, though, with a couple of exceptions, the names of these august figures were considered far too august and imposing for a twentieth/twenty-first century kid. But the times they are a-changin’ and lately several of these appellations have ridden into the realm of possibility.

AugustusAugustus, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, who was born Octavian and given the name Augustus by the senate in honor of his great achievements, was the first of the Roman emperors. Augustus is a perfect example of a name that was well used in the 19th century, then deemed too fusty for decades, and now is back at Number 688 and a high 123 on Nameberry, recently modernized by the character nicknamed Gus in The Fault in Our Stars.

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greek classical names

By Lauren Apfel

As both a classicist and a lover of names, I find myself in a unique position. On the one hand, I have been exposed, from a relatively young age, to a swathe of wonderful monikers that wouldn’t otherwise be on my radar: Achilles, Antigone, Andromache (to mention a few off the top of my head that all happen to start with A). On the other hand, I have spent many years studying and internalizing the tales of woe that accompany these names. Achilles, for instance, is not just an interesting three-syllable option to me with the benefit of a double letter. He is an angry man, with a delicate ego, who spent a long time sulking in his tent before embarking on a brutal killing spree. Not exactly the connotation I was looking for, you can imagine, when it came to naming my sons.

Okay, to be fair, I was never really tempted to call any of my sons Achilles. But there are some ancient Greek names that make me swoon, names I might even have considered using for my own modern offspring had their backstories not been so utterly problematic. Here are five:

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god2

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In the mythologies of ancient Greece and Rome, most of the deities had shared lineages, dominions and attributes—but not appellations.  I thought it might be fun to pit the names of the two cultures against each other and let you see if your taste ran more to the Greek or Roman.  The one major exception to this rule is Apollo—recently chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale—whose name stayed the same.

Here they are, with Greeks on the left, the Romans to the right.

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beachgeorgiabrizuela

by Linda Rosenkrantz

July has arrived, the month of beaches and barbecues, kids off at camp—and lots of relevant baby name possibilities—including ancient names dating back to Julius Caesar, saints’ names, and July flower and month names.  If you want to look further afield for inspiration, July also contains Video Games Day (the 8th), Moon Day (the 20th), Amelia Earhart Day (the 24th), Aunt and Uncle Day (the 26th) and, last but not least, Father-in-Law Day (the 30th).

But the following are more directly related.

JulyThough the other warm weather months May, June and August have been used long and often for babies, July has rarely been found.  But it could make a cute middle name for either gender.  As the fifth month, it was originally called Quintilis, but when Caesar, whose birth month it was, reformed the Roman calendar in 46 BC—becoming the Julian calendar—it was renamed for him.

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