I want to say "screw your friend and her having Phoebe on her short list" Belphoebe is so much prettier.
(Also Bellicent makes me think of belligerent. Which I know I've said before.)
Though I think this makes sense for you guys - like a "normal" middle makes sense.
here are the rest of my .02
Cleo over Circe
Endymion or Orpheus over Eurydice
Morgana over Melpomene
Neither Pandora or Polyhymnia -> sorry I just still don't love either.
Tinuviel over Thalassa
In contrast with my overly verbose response to your boys list, I'll keep this very short.
The only ones I love and adore are Tinuviel (Nuvi! Vi!) and Zenobia. Both are stunning. If I have to chose, it's Zenobia for usability.
Gwenllian is good, too.
And Circe for a mn. Because Casimir is better.
None of the others really work for me as a real life name, or else don't sound lovely to me.
I love the nickname Pom for Penelope. Ive never heard that before and it makes me smile!
Other than that I really like Belphoebe, Pandora and Zenobia.
To me Polyhymnia and Melpomene both sound like drugs or chemical additives. I wish they didn't because they are beautiful... but I can't help but think that. The other ones I just don't care for.
Bellicent versus Belphoebe - Belphoebe, but you could call your child by her middle, or put Belphoebe in the middle
Eurydice (but would rule out Endymion and Orpheus) - Orpheus
Gwenllian - no
Hespera - ok
Morgana - nice
Niniane - like this
Pandora - no
Thalassa versus Tinuviel - neither
Bellicent versus Belphoebe- I'm not big on either. There are just too many names with 'belle' these days... Bellicent sounds like Belle + Millicent. Belphoebe sounds a bit made up.
Circe versus Cleopatra- Although I love Cleopatra, Aphrodite and Cleopatra almost seem like too much together. Circe is nice, but not strong enough for Aphrodite to me. It also reminds me of 'circus'... I think I might prefer it as a mn.
Eurydice (but would rule out Endymion and Orpheus)- I'm not really big on a Greek name with Aphrodite. It's just too predictable...
Gwenllian- I tend to like Gwen- names, but this one just doesn't really stand up to Aphrodite for me...
Hespera- This name does not seem quite as strong, but has a spunkiness that I like... I think of a teenage girl with very cool, vintage style.
Melpomene versus Morgana- Morgana. Melpomene sounds too much like melamine, the substance found in milk powder in China that was killing babies... Maybe others (who are not living in China) would not make this connection... Morgana is my top out of these 2, but I am not wowed by it. It seems a bit common and unspectacular next to Aphrodite.
Niniane- This actually sounds too much like a pet name to me, which makes it sound weak next to Aphrodite.
Pandora versus Polyhymnia- Pandora, although I do find it too thematic with Aphrodite. 'Hymen' pops out too much from Polyhymnia.... Many hymns or many hymens?
Thalassa versus Tinuviel- Between these two, Thalassa has a much nicer sound than Tinuviel. To me, I just hear 'tin' with Tinuviel, and think of the Tin Man. Thalassa is nice and flowing, like Aphrodite. However, it doesn't have such a strong sound.
Zenobia- Perhaps because of my love affair with the Middle East, this is the one that jumps out to me. I have yet to meet a Zenobia, but I'd love to. I love the idea of A & Z. Plus, this name exudes strength, independence, and royalty... it more than holds its own with Aphrodite. I think of soft silks on my fingertips and the aroma of incense... the taste of pomegranates, olive oil, and basil... intricate mosaics and tile work on the palace walls, and most of all of a mysterious, exotic beauty. For some reason, this name seems slightly more wintery to me... Zen would be such an amazing nn...
I was a Gwenny when I was little, and I hated it. Had to constantly correct everyone until I was solidly Gwen. Winnie never occurred to me as a possible alternative. I wonder if I'd've liked it better? It's certainly very cute.
Actual name junk:
Bellicent vs. Belphoebe - Belphoebe times a million. Bellicent is all right, but sounds a bit homely next to Aphrodite. Belphoebe is my favorite from your list. So, no contest. I'm crossing my fingers that your friend doesn't use Phoebe!
Circe vs. Cleopatra - Cleopatra! Circe feels too similar to Aphrodite. Cleopatra feels like the perfect balance to it, and is much more elegant than Circe. Plus, Cleo. I adore O-names, too! Lucky me, I have an O in my first name and an Irish O' last name.
Eurydice - Meh. Use Orpheus!
Gwenllian- It's certainly different from your other names, but I think that's good-- it'd be cool to have a sibset of, say, Aphrodite, Gwenllian, Zenobia and Faramond. As opposed to all Greek names or all Arthurian or whatever.
Hespera - You love it. Use it if it's right.
Melpomene vs. Morgana - Morgana, I guess. Not terribly keen on either, but I like Morgana's stormy vibe.
Niniane - Love it! So sleek and mysterious and pretty.
Pandora vs. Polyhymnia - Pandora! Always Pandora. I already really liked it, but you're making me fall in love with it. And I can't get over the perfection of a Panda and Roo sibset. Plus, it always makes me think of the gorgeous Waterhouse painting.
Thalassa vs. Tinuviel - Tinuviel. Such a pretty sound! I agree with whoever said it sounds like a youngest-child name, though.
Zenobia - Love the nns, and it's perfect with Aphrodite. Zenobia has really grown on me.
So, my top 5:
Bellicent & Belphoebe - I like both of these so much. Belphoebe just glistens and Bellicent is so ferocious yet feminine. If your friend picks Phoebe that will help decided, I suppose. I think I may give the win to Bellicent here, as Belphoebe does lend itself to the "normal" name of Phoebe so well and could be a good 'normal middle'. Does that thought process make sense?
Circe versus Cleopatra - Well, I already gave the win to Casimir. However, I do love Cleopatra with Aphrodite. Circe is lovely, but I do think it works a tinge better in the middle for its softer and briefer sounds
Eurydice - I love her myth and her name, but she just eliminates too many others so early in the game. I think she's best kept for a future baby.
Gwenllian - Absolutely adorable. She does feel a bit soft next to Aphrodite. I picture a sweet, freckled girl in braids giggling and peeking shyly behind her protective older sister.
Hespera - Absolute perfection. You should certainly keep it for the time being - there's no telling what her spirit will be!
Melpomene & Morgana - Pom is incredible and Melpomene is delightful. That said, I know how much you love Morgana, and I really would like to see a non -e name for a second child. However, Morgana might fit your 'normal middle' theme of normalish names out of kid-friendly literature. This would free up Melpomene for the front spot? Hmm, but even then I don't know whether I'd put Melpomene up front for your next baby...I would like to see a non -e ending back to back with Aphrodite
Niniane - I prefer this as a middle. It's lovely, but not enough for a first, imo.
Pandora & Polyhymnia - Neither of these are among my favorites. I do like Pandora's imagery and story, but she's been ruined by the online radio (for me). Polyhymnia is a great namesake, but I just can't love the sound.
Tinuviel - Like Niniane, she doesn't have the power that Aphrodite has. Better for a middle, imo.
Zenobia - Absolute favorite. Just so, so regal and fun.
Bellicent vs. Belphoebe: I would choose Belphoebe because I know how much you like it and the Faerie Queen, but honestly I don't care for either. If the aquaintences leave it open and you use Belphoebe I much prefer her in the middle. A-name, B-name, both ending in -e... It just bugs me sorry!
Circe vs. Cleopatra: Keep Cleo and put Circe in the middle. She's just too short I think, but still great and a less obvious myth tie to Aphro-D.
Eurydice: Just eliminate this one I think. Ruling out both Endymion and Orpheus is completely unacceptable behavior. =]
Gwenllian: Definitely keep this, it's amazing and I have a really good feeling about a little Gwen.
Hespera: We know this one is going to be perfect for a summer daughter whether she's born in the summer or in Feb. Use it now if it fits!
Melpomene vs Morgana: I don't like either in front, but I know you love Morgana. I like the idea of it being your "normal" mn. M initial to match sis!
Niniane: Eh. I agree the "ninny" thing isn't that big of a deal, but I still think she's better in the middle. Maybe the E ending is bugging me?
Pandora vs. Polyhymnia: I like Pandora better than Polyhymnia, but I prefer neither of them as a first. Pandora in the middle maybe.
Thalassa vs. Tinuviel: Well Tinuviel is 1000 times better than Thalassa imo, and a Tolkein fn would be amazing in the sibset. I agree Tiny is probably a much younger sister though. Then again, I also adore this as a mn because I think it's great with Illyria... I can't decide where, but definitely use it.
Zenobia: Yes yes yes. The only name I have a better feeling about than Gwen is little miss Zen! =]
Saracita; haha, no not really. I just know that when reading what I write sometimes it must seem like I love some much more than others. Some names are just easier to write. If a say a name reminds me of this thing or this, it's hard for others to understand unless they know me really well! Zenobia and Gwenllian are both great, thanks for picking them out.
Dina; wohsa, I need to name her Circe now, that's too cute. And Nuvi will be saved for a later one... after your comment in the boy thread, that was so cute. I love what you say about Morgana. Thank you Bride!
Tucker; thank you! Bellicent, ehm, guessing Bel or Lia (my go to nn if the letters li are in a name). Glorious top five!
Phlox; Pandora is secretly my frontrunner. This baby feels like a Pandora at the moment.
Lex; thank you! You don't like Panda? I might have to pound on you a little... (if you get the Friends reference. If not, that was meant to be cute!)
Lois, Silver & Clocks; thank you!!!
Zolg; you know, Belphoebe is starting to look rather... bland to me. Like when you say a word over and over and it loses its meaning. Bleh. Thanks for all your opinions, even though I disagree, opinions are always nice!!! And your Zenobia sounds delicious...
Gwen; you're welcome! Thanks for lovely comments. Pandora is very close to my heart, I love the Waterhouse paintings, Rossetti's got a pretty one as well, and one of my absolute favourite Tori Amos songs... too many good things. Oh, and I adore the myth too!
Reverie; thank you! Belphoebe might get a middle place, yes. Ooh, lovely comments on almost everything. It's good to hear people's opinions, it makes it clear which ones I'm willing to go to battle for!
My sweet Amy; complete honesty here, I think! But not Pandora (why isn't there a crying smiley? There should be one with tears splashing out of its eyes!)! Oh, well... yay for Hespera and Tinuviel and Circe and Gwen and Znobi love!!!! Thanks so much, you rock!!!! And thanks for letting me love Morgana... even if you want her in the middle... :D
Oh, and I edited it down a wee bit more:
I'm having a workshop on PatPat and Znobee. Belphoebe is under the microscope. Niniane/Nimue is moved to the middle spot and the rest... we'll see.