Mythological Names: Ancient Greek vs Ancient Roman–take your pick!

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.

Aphrodite vs VenusThe goddess of love and beauty, associated with the myrtle tree, doves, sparrows and swans, she was said to have been born fully-grown from the sea-foam.   She was also considered the mother of the Roman people and is the namesake of a heavenly planet. Venuss name was brought down to earth by tennis champ Venus Williams; it was in the Top 100 from 1945 to 1975, but has been off the list since 1982.

Ares vs MarsThe god of war’s name projects a somewhat fierce image, which, in the case of Mars, became a bit less intimidating when Erykah Badu gave it to her daughter.  Another major planetary name, it could make an interesting unisex middle.

Artemis vs DianaThe virgin goddess of the hunt is connected with the moon, the healing arts, childbirth, and as a protector of young girls and wild animals.  Heard recently on the large and small screens, Artemis is beginning to attract baby-namers’ attention.  Diana, on the other hand, is a well-used classic, a constant on the Social Security list, in the Top 50 from 1945 to 1959, and again (thank you, Princess Di), from 1981-1998.  She currently ranks at Number 251.

Athena vs Minerva—The warrior goddess of wisdom and patron of handicrafts, mathematics and invention, this daughter of Zeus sprang fully-grown from her father’s head.  Steadily on the list since 1955, Athena came into the spotlight recently as the middle name Tina Fey chose for her daughter, and was also the name of Ariel’s mom in The Little Mermaid.  Minerva was a vintage fave, on the list for almost a century, from 1880 to 1970, making a return appearance in Harry Potter.  Newfound love for adorable nickname Minnie could bring it back.

Demeter vs CeresThe goddess of the harvest, of agriculture, growth and nourishment.  Variant Demetria is the full name of actress Demi Moore, and Demeter would be another path to that attractive nickname.

Eos vs AuroraNot much of a contest here between the two names of the goddess of dawn.  Aurora is a soft and romantic (Disney) princess name that’s experiencing a burst of popularity—she’s Number 166 on the national list and way up at Number 17 among Nameberries

Eros vs CupidThe name of the god of love, in both its forms, is too powerful to have many baby namesakes.

Gaia vs TerraTwo names for Mother EarthGaia, pronounced GUY-a, was used by Emma Thompson for her daughter (she said she was attracted by its ecological element), and is the protagonist of the Fearless novels, while Terra had a surprisingly active record on the popularity lists from 1970 to 1996, reaching Number 379 in 1980.

Helios vs SolThe god of the sun–though we’re sure most of the Sols who brought their name into the Top 500 in the early decades of the 20th century, at a high of Number 257 in 1913, had more to do with a shortening of Solomon than with the Roman god.

Hera vs JunoThe GrecoRoman names for the Queen of the Heavens, the patron goddess of Rome and protector of women and marriage. Juno, though it hasn’t yet appeared on the Social Security list, is hot enough to be ready to register before long; it was used by Will Champion for his daughter.

Hermes vs MercuryThe messenger of the gods, moving between the worlds of the mortal and the divine, and also the god of physicians, poets, travelers and thieves.  Hermes, pronounced the French way, with an accent over the second ‘e’, is associated with the venerable French luxe firm known for its perfume, jewelry and leather goods; actress Kelly Rutherford chose it for her son.

Hestia vs VestaThese two similar forms of the name for the peace-loving goddess of the hearth, symbol of the home, are not likely to find many takers.

Nike vs VictoriaWhereas both these names represent the goddess of victory, for the Greeks it symbolized victory in athletic games, while for the Romans it was victory over death.  Nike is too tied to the sneaks to find much use, while Victoria is a regal, long-running favorite, still at Number 28.

Persephone vs Proserpine—With a complex mythological story, the goddess of, among other things, spring growth. We’ve had the Greek version on our list of extreme names in the next style wave; the Roman one not so much.

Poseidon vs NeptuneThe god of the sea, droughts and earthquakes would, in both versions, be a mighty burden for a child to bear.

Zeus vs JupiterThe lord of the sky and supreme ruler of the Olympian gods would make an interesting, if challenging, choice in either incarnation. The planetary Jupiter could follow partner Juno into the mainstream; Zeusthe name of a 1990s soap opera character—could make a powerful  middle.

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26 Responses to “Mythological Names: Ancient Greek vs Ancient Roman–take your pick!”

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Sunshine Kid Says:

April 16th, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I prefer Aphrodite, Ares, Diana, Minevra, Demeter, Aurora, Eros, Terra, Sol, Juno, Mercury, Vesta, Victoria, Persephone, Neptune & Jupiter.

Greek: 5
Roman: 11

The only name that I might use would be Juno.

CocoWhite Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 12:00 am

I very much prefer Venus to Aphrodite — not only does Venus have associations with tennis champ Venus Williams, but it’s also got connections to astronomy and space, which I think makes it an especially appealing choice for girls, much more so than Aphrodite.

Whirligig Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 2:49 am

I think I prefer mostly Greeks although there are a few Roman names [cough cough Minerva] that I like too.

thiswastheirworld Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 4:24 am

I actually know an Eros in real life! He wears it really well.

Dearest Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 6:05 am

Aphrodite – more spunk, and I don’t like the planet connection with Venus
Ares – Mars for me is chocolate, planet and the Norwegian name for March, the month. Ares has fewer associations
Artemis – I like Diana as well, but Artemis is more intriguing
Minerva – I have a soft spot for Minnie or Minn or Minna as nicknames, otherwise Minerva and Athena would be tied.
Demeter – The s-sounds are a little overwhelming with Ceres.
Eos – Aurora is so clunky! Eos is lovely and airy.
Eros – Cupid is too cute…
Gaia – For me, Gaia is Mother Earth and Terra is just Earth.
Sol – I like Sol, although in Norway it’s a girls name…. Warm and gentle. Helios is also nice, but I’m drawn to the simplicity of Sol
Juno – I love Hera for a Laura Marling song, but Juno is the name I might actually use. And I like Hero more than Hera.
Hermes – I always liked Hermes, Mies is a cool nickname. Mercury is more somber.
Hestia/Vesta – I can’t seem to love wither of these, Hest is Norwegian for Horse, Vesta is a well-known insurance company. It bugs me to pieces, since the godess of the hearth is my favourite.
Nike – I had a friend who loved Victoria, she took it as her middle name. She wasn’t very nice to me, so now I don’t want to use any name related to her. I can’t love Victoria, Nike is also much cooler, it’s just such a shame about the sneakers……
Persephone – Proserpine is too sharp sounding
Poseidon – Neptune, again, has the planet connection. I also don’t like the sounds of Neptune.
Jupiter – The only planet name I do like. Would still use Juniper instead.

Overall, the Greek names seem to be my favourites. I’m also noticing that I seem to think of them as ‘the originals’ and that the Roman ones are just imitations and thus don’t deserve as much love and use….

handsallover Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 7:13 am

Prefer Roman versions. Greek are just too…God and Godess, I think, and thus pretty one-person. Roman versions now have classic feel – Minerva, Juno, Victoria.

charlotteblu Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 7:57 am

Aphrodite
Mars
Artemis
Minerva
Demeter
Aurora
Eros
Gaia
Helios
Juno
Mercury
Vesta
Victoria
Persephone
Neptune
Jupiter

Greek: 7
Roman: 9

charlotteblu Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 7:57 am

Aphrodite
Mars
Artemis
Minerva
Demeter
Aurora
Eros
Gaia
Helios
Juno
Mercury
Vesta
Victoria
Persephone
Neptune
Jupiter

Greek: 7
Roman: 9

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 8:08 am

Venus – I agree with handsallover. Aphrodite just sounds too one-person. Although I know a woman that has Aphrodite as her middle name, I love Venus’s connection to space and the cosmos.
Ares – I know Mars as the god of war but Ares sounds more fearful.
Diana – Artemis is nice, but I’ve been a sucker for this name since I became a fan of the short-lived TV show ‘The Secret Circle’. That character brought a new life into what was a stale name for me.
Minerva – Though I think Minnie and the like nicknames are very cutesy, I prefer Minerva to Athena
Ceres – I like the softness the soft s sounds bring to it. A lot more than I like Demeter, but I do like the nickname Demi for Demeter.
Aurora – I adore the nickname Aura (Rory’s not bad, but Aura beats it for me).
Eros – Really, neither but Cupid is too connected with symbolism
Terra – Again, neither but Gaia’s might be confusing to people on first glance. My cousin automatically pronounced it gay-ee-uh, which is so sad to this particular Berry. If I was pushed, I would consider Gaia.
Sol – I like it because it could be a nickname for Solomon, which, despite my non-religious lifestyle, I love.
Juno – I would never have thought it was wearable until the movie came out. Unfortunately, now, it’s too tied to the movie for me to ever actually use.
Mercury – I could get used to the nickname Merc for it and when I think of Hermes, I immediately think of the messenger from Disney’s version of Hercules
Vesta – Only because I’m not a fan of Hestia. I am liking Vesper, which sounds similar, so that could be another reason for my choosing this one.
Nike – I would only ever use it for a dog, though. Every Victoria I’ve personally met have not been nice so I have a bad association with that name now.
Persephone – The only reason I pick this one is cause I’ve seen it used on people and the other choice is not my style at all, but I don’t really like this one either.
Poseidon – It sounds much more intimidating than Neptune. Plus, the Sy/Cy nickname could work for it.
Zeus – Even though I think it’s too tied with the god, Jupiter doesn’t have the same cool appeal. It’s also too closely sounds like Juniper to me, which is a name I considered to get to June.

So, 7-9 Greeks – Roman. Pretty even and on a couple of them, I really could go either way.

miloowen Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 8:33 am

The only two names on this list that I might consider giving an actual child are Athina (Greek spelling I’m used to) and Gaia. My sister is Victoria so I wouldn’t use that name…..

Now for characters. I love the Sicilian Apollonia. Otherwise I prefer the lesser mythological names, such as Clio, or Ariadne, or Daphne.

Babtr1ll Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 9:36 am

Funnily enough, I really quite like Apollo 🙂 Maybe I’m the sort to sit on the fence and go neither way!
Here they are, with Greeks on the left, the Romans to the right.

Aphrodite vs Venus – APHRODITE
Ares vs Mars – ARES
Artemis vs Diana – DIANA
Athena vs Minerva – ATHENA
Demeter vs Ceres – CERES
Eos vs Aurora – AURORA
Eros vs Cupid – EROS
Gaia vs Terra – GAIA
Helios vs Sol – HELIOS
Hera vs Juno – JUNO
Hermes vs Mercury – MERCURY
Hestia vs Vesta – HESTIA
Nike vs Victoria – VICTORIA
Persephone vs Proserpine – PERSEPHONE
Poseidon vs Neptune – POSEIDON
Zeus vs Jupiter – ZEUS

Overall: Greek – 10, Roman – 6

Some were closer than others – Artemis/Diana, Hermes/Mercury.
I actually know a few people with these names. I know an Athena (who goes by Thena), Sol, Victoria (Toria) and my youngest sister’s middle name is Persephone 🙂

potofgold Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 11:34 am

I love Apollo, I think it is maybe a bit much for a first but it would make a great middle
Aphrodite – I really like it but wouldn’t use it
Mars – as a name, Ares seems more violent
Artemis
Athena
Demeter
Aurora
Eros – I actually really like this name and think it could be usable, Cupid I definitely don’t think is usable though!
Gaia
Helios – this one’s really cool but I’d never even heard it before!
Juno
Hermes – Mercury makes me think of the element, which is poisonous and not a very good association for a name, I don’t think
Hestia – one of my favourite names
Victoria
Persephone
Poseidon – I would love to have the guts to use this name!
Jupiter

Greek 11, Roman 5

Myosotis Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 11:52 am

Aphrodite- Venus reminds me of the razors, and it’s not my favourite planet.
Ares
Artemis
Athena/Minerva- Tie, I just can’t decide which one.
Ceres- But I like Demeter variant Demetra
Aurora- Been on my list for a long time.
Eros- Really like this.
Terra
Helios
Hera- Love this!
Hermes- Really like this, and Hermione’s a new addition.
Hestia
Victoria
Persephone- Proserpine is okay though.
Neptune- I love the blue colour of the planet!
Zeus

Greek: 10
Roman: 5
(I didn’t count Athena/Minerva)

KateMP91 Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I thought for sure I would lean to the Greek side, but it was a complete tie. My fav? Apollo!

MillyAnne Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Aphrodite
Ares
Artemis
Minerva – but I love Athena too
Ceres
Aurora – so pretty
Eros
Gaia
Helios
Juno – i’m not really keen on either of these though
Hermes
Hestia
Victoria
Persephone
Poseidon
Zeus

Greek: 11
Roman:5

KickinKay Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Final tally: Greeks 11, Romans 5.

I was actually surprised by what I preferred and the more I think about it now, the more I adore Poseidon, Zeus, and Ares as strong middle names.

grace_newgrace Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Aphrodite
Mars
Artemis
Athena
Ceres
Aurora
Terra
Helios
Juno
Mercury
Vesta
Nike
Persephone
Poseidon & Neptune (Tie)
Zeus & Jupiter (Tie)

Greek: 8
Roman: 9

ClaireDarling Says:

April 17th, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Aphrodite vs Venus – Aphrodite
Ares vs Mars – Ares
Artemis vs Diana – Artemis
Athena vs Minerva – Minerva
Demeter vs Ceres – Demeter
Eos vs Aurora – Aurora
Eros vs Cupid – Eros
Gaia vs Terra – Gaia
Helios vs Sol – Sol
Hera vs Juno – Juno
Hermes vs Mercury – Mercury
Hestia vs Vesta – Hestia
Nike vs Victoria – Victoria
Persephone vs Proserpine – Persephone
Poseidon vs Neptune – Poseidon
Zeus vs Jupiter – Zeus

Greek – 10
Roman – 6

I love Gaia, Juno, Minerva, Aurora, and Artemis!

encore Says:

April 18th, 2014 at 10:39 am

One if my favorite recent blogs! Loved this!

fuzzycub Says:

April 18th, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I like Ares, Athena, Terra, Hera, Mercury, Hestia, Victoria, Poseidon, and Jupiter. I would possibly use Athena and Jupiter for middle names.

chi1127 Says:

April 19th, 2014 at 12:04 am

Greek 9
Roman 7

Dantea Says:

April 19th, 2014 at 11:23 am

In most all cases, I prefer the Greek. Though even I think some of them, looking at you Eros, shouldn’t be used.

By the way, Eros is a god of love but also of sexual intercourse and where we get the word erotic. That’s why I wouldn’t use it.

marinadancel17 Says:

April 22nd, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Aphrodite
Ares
Artemis
Athena
Ceres
Aurora
Eros
Gaia
Sol
Juno
Mercury
Vesta
Victoria
Persephone
Poseidon
Zeus

Greek-9
Roman-7

LunaCross Says:

April 26th, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Venus-To me, Aphrodite sounds like a drug, though Venus is also a flytrap.
Ares-To me, I think of Bruno Mars when I hear Mars. Oh, and “Are you from planet Mars?” It’s also an astrological sign.
Diana-Artemis sounds like a guy’s name as it is, well, a guy’s name in the Artemis Fowl novels.
Athena-I love McGonagall, but Minerva has the “nerve” root in it, though Minnie’s a good nn, if you can get past Minnie Mouse.
Demeter-Ceres sounds like “series” to me.
Aurora-Eos sounds weird.
Eros-To me, Cupid is the dude with the heart-shaped arrows and not to mention he wears a diaper. If I had to pick, I’d use Eros, but to the person who mentioned the word “erotic”, I wouldn’t use it anyways, since, to me, it sounds like the word “arrows.”
Sol-Helios sounds like helium.
Juno-My mom saw the movie and there are songs that I like.
Hermes-To me, Mercury is the chemical that could make you go insane, which is where we get the phrase “you’re as mad as a hatter” and the mad hatter himself, from Alice in Wonderland.
Victoria-More useable, as Nike is too-tied to shoes. And there is a speech therapist named Victoria, that gets called Vicky by her husband. I might use the nn Tori, though.

LunaCross Says:

April 26th, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Venus-To me, Aphrodite sounds like a drug, though Venus is also a flytrap.
Ares-To me, I think of Bruno Mars when I hear Mars. Oh, and “Are you from planet Mars?” It’s also an astrological sign. Ares, that is.
Diana-Artemis sounds like a guy’s name as it is, well, a guy’s name in the Artemis Fowl novels.
Athena-I love McGonagall, but Minerva has the “nerve” root in it, though Minnie’s a good nn, if you can get past Minnie Mouse.
Demeter-Ceres sounds like “series” to me.
Aurora-Eos sounds weird.
Eros-To me, Cupid is the dude with the heart-shaped arrows and not to mention he wears a diaper. If I had to pick, I’d use Eros, but to the person who mentioned the word “erotic”, I wouldn’t use it anyways, since, to me, it sounds like the word “arrows.”
Sol-Helios sounds like helium.
Juno-My mom saw the movie and there are songs that I like.
Hermes-To me, Mercury is the chemical that could make you go insane, which is where we get the phrase “you’re as mad as a hatter” and the mad hatter himself, from Alice in Wonderland.
Victoria-More useable, as Nike is too-tied to shoes. And there is a speech therapist named Victoria, that gets called Vicky by her husband. I might use the nn Tori, though.

cj85 Says:

May 5th, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Demetria isn’t the full name of Demi Moore. She is actually just named Demi. It IS the full name of Demi Lovato though.

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