In 2014 I featured a series of blog posts introducing you to 2,014 names. For the most part they were names that were brand new to me as well. Some names may be more familiar but I found the meaning or origin or some other aspect of the name made it worthy of inclusion here. You may love some of the names, you may hate some, but hopefully you enjoy learning about all of them.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Greek and Roman (or Sabine) Names


Nisaea -  Greek. This was an ancient port. It is pronounced 'nih SAY uh'. There is also a sea nymph called Nicaea and an ancient city in Turkey that was called Nicaea. I haven't found out yet if their etymology or meaning is the same.
Nisaea was a port near Megara, which is on the western border of Attica near the Gulf of Corinth

Ocyroe - Greek, the name of a nymph that in Ovid's Metamorphoses was turned into a horse. Pronounced "oh SEAR  oh ee".

Photine - Greek, meaning "luminous one" or "enlightened one" from "phos" meaning "light. The name given to the woman by the well who speaks with Jesus, a Samaritan. She is a Christian Saint considered Equal-to-the-Apostles and by some as the first evangelist to spread the gospel of Christ. She was one of those martyred in 66 AD. She is also known as Photina or Photini or as Svetlana. She is celebrated on Feb 26th, Mar 20th, and the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman is the 5th Sunday of Pascha.


Quirinus - the name of a Roman god and meaning  "wielder of the spear", it may come from the Sabine word 'quiris' meaning "spear" or the Sabine town called Cures, or possibly from the word 'curia'. Another idea is that it means "oak-god" coming from the word 'quercus'.Quirinus is pronounced "queer EYE nus". Quirinus did eventually become a way of referring to the Roman god Janus.

Rabirius - Rabiria is an ancient Roman family name and Rabirius comes from this. Pronounced "rah BEER ee us".

Sempronio - Spanish, from the Roman family name Sempronia. This family was important during the Roman Republic, but not during the Roman empire. It's interesting to me that certain 'praenomia' or first names were more popular with this family than others, and are separated by the class level the family was (patrician or  plebeian). The patricians seem to have preferred Aulus, Gaius, and Lucius while different branches of the plebeian Sempronii (that's the plural form of the family name) tended to use Publius, Tiberius or Titus, Gaius, and Marcus. Each branch of the Sempronii had a surname, and these were: Asellio, Blaesus, Densus, Gracchus, Longus, Musca, Pitio, Rufus, Rutilus, Sophus, and Tuditanus. Atratinus was the only patrician branch of the family and Gracchus the most famous branch.

Back to our lovely Spanish first name based on the Roman family name. Sempronio is a character in one of the most famous works of Spanish literature "La celestina" and is the name of a servant. I thought of featuring this name when I first came upon Sempronius in a book on how to pronounce certain names and it seemed familiar to me. That's when I remembered Sempronio. It turns out that Sempronius is also the name of a character in a play by Shakespeare (Timon of Athens). Shakespeare's time was after that of La celestina, which was published at the end of the 15th century.

Sempronio is the one who suggests that the 'hero' of the play use the services of Celestina to gain access to the young woman he lusts after (we can't really say this story is much about two people in love so much as one about desire).

Sempronio is pronounced 'sehm PRO nee oh"

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