22 Secret Shakespeare Names: From Angus to Varro
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Some names scream out their Shakespearean heritage–think Hamlet, Macbeth, Desdemona, Ophelia, Iago, Romeo–while others carry a more subtle reference to their ties to the Bard. We’re looking here towards the bottoms of the cast lists, at the secondary characters who might be a servant or a follower or friend. So to avoid Romeo always being followed by Juliet, you can pick one of these that have a less pronounced Shakespearean tie.
Angus—a good old Scottish name from “the Scottish play,” Macbeth, in which he is a general and the thane of Glamis, influenced by the prophesies of the three witches. Also the god of love and youth in Irish myth, Angus is especially popular in Australia now, thanks to AC/DC rocker Angus Young.
Dion—In The Winter’s Tale, Dion is a lord of Sicily. A Greek name related to the godlike Dio, and a shortened form of names like Dionysius, Dion has a hip vibe, also associated with early rock n’ roll. The Shakespearean female Dionyza is found in Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Duncan—The King of Scotland in Macbeth, who meets a disastrous fate, was based on a real Scottish king. The jaunty Duncan appears in literature from The Last of the Mohicans to Dune to Lemony Snicket, but is sadly neglected in the baby name world.
Fabian—In Twelfth Night, Fabian is a servant of Olivia’s and he’s also a Harry Potter character. An ancient saint/papal name, Fabian is on the upswing in the US, at Number 312, and very popular in German, ranking 27th.
Lucio –a friend of Claudio in Measure for Measure. Though the feminine version Lucia has long been a US resident, Lucio doesn’t even have a green card. It is the Italian and Spanish version of the Latin Lucius, and has several distinguished namesakes in the worlds of art and sports.
Philo—Philo (along with Demetrius) is one of the Romans following Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. A Greek name with a sweet meaning (“loving”), and one borne by Clint Eastwood in two films, we are big Philo fans and could see it as a less familiar alternative to Milo.
Piers— Sir Piers of Exton is responsible for the death of King Richard in Richard II. This medieval variant of Peter has never really made any impact in this country, but now that it’s been familiarized by Piers Morgan and Harry Potter’s Piers Polkiss, that could change.
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