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Posts Tagged ‘Lucius’

Yesterday, I featured my pick of girls’ names here at the Nook in 2011.

Now it’s the boys’ turn:

  • Alban — most people associate Alban with St Alban of St Alban’s, Hertfordshire. However, Alban is also an old Welsh word meaning “equinox” and “solstice,” and it features in the Druid names of the Solstices and Equinoxes. As for the saint, there are actually three of them and two are British. The one who gave his name to St. Albans was supposedly a Roman soldier martyred in or around 283 CE. However, there is no evidence for his existence before the late fifth century, and the fact he was executed by beheading is a big give-away that a Celtic divinity lies behind him. If he truly was a real historical figure, his name may derive from the Latin cognomen Albanus “of Alba (Longa).” But this is unlikely, as even the legends say that he was a native Briton. Therefore, real or divine, his name probably derives from the Common Celtic *albiyo- “(upper) world” and “white” — the source of  the Old Welsh alban “solstice,” which brings us full circle.
  • Angus — A wonderful old Scottish name, which still sees plenty of use in Scotland but deserves more attention elsewhere, especially by those proud of their Scottish roots.
  • Ao — Love this short, snappy ‘”-o” ending discovery from France.
  • Faramond — With its splendid meaning of “journey-protection,” Faramond has cropped up more than once this year. Uncommon, but with a long, rich history, I think it’s an underused gem just waiting to be embraced.
  • Felix — Another name which has justly had a lot of mention at the Nook. A great meaning, a great “look,” I love it.
  • Iolo — A very accesible Welsh name with a wonderful past, and lots of great Pagan overtones.
  • Loxias — I’ve always thought this epithet of Apollo would make a glorious name…
  • Lucius — I’m an unashamed champion of this magnificent name from Ancient Rome!
  • Odin — the Norse God, Lord of the Wild Hunt; a great name, especially appropriate this time of year, when he rides his eight-legged Sleipnir in the Wild Hunt — seen by many as one of the sources of the modern myth of Father Christmas and the reindeer.
  • Orion — Another name from the ancient world with a very contemporary ring.
  • Rafferty — I have quite a crush on this fabulous Irish surname which is yet to reach the top 1000 in the US, but was 406th in the UK last year and continues to rise.
  • Rufus — Rufus is deservedly on the rise again on both sides of the Atlantic, but is still far from common.
  • Sol — If short and sweet with a big Pagan/Druid/Wiccan punch is what you’re after, Sol can barely be beaten. For those who have issues with short, snappy names in their own right which might be mistaken for a nickname, there are plenty of “long-form” options, from the biblical — but still distinctly witchy Solomon — to the Pagan-and-proud Solstice, not to mention the magical Latin Solifer.

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It’s the Winter Solstice tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Summer Solstice in the Southern — I’m not jealous, really, I’m not).

That is to say, it’s the shortest day, or — as my mum used to say — the longest night.

And whatever your religious persuasion, or none, there’s something special about it.

It marks the very deepest, darkest moment of winter — that’s the bleak bit.

But it means from now on, the days gradually start to lengthen again. The ever turning wheel of the year has shifted, and we’re on our way back to the warmth and light. Yippee!

However, for a few days, each side of the Solstice, to the naked eye, the sun appears to rise and set in the same places — hence the name, from the Latin sol “sun” + sisto “to stand still.”

Of course, we know today that the reason why the sun grows weaker and the days shorten after the Summer Solstice is because the Earth goes round the sun, spinning on its axis, which is on an angle.

But for most of human history (and prehistory) most humans thought it was the sun doing the moving, rising in the East, setting in the West.

As the Winter Solstice approached, they thought the sun was dying; the Sostice marked the point when the sun was reborn, to strengthen and grow until it reached the peak of its power at the Summer Soltice.

No wonder this period is marked with numerous festivals, frequently of light.

Chief among them in the pagan Roman Empire was Sol Invictus — “The Unconquered Sun” — whose birthday was celebrated on December 25.

It is no coincidence that it shares December 25 with Christmas, only celebrated on that date since the fifth century.

December 25 is the first date after the Solstice when the sun stops seeming to “stand still” and the day is discernibly a little longer.

The word “Christmas” actually dates only to the twelfth century. Prior to that, the festivities which took over Sol Invictus were called Yule (the earliest Old English form known is geohol), almost certainly the name of the Germanic pagan festival celebrated at this time.

The ultimate source of the word “yule” is uncertain, but it is either cognate with, or derived from the Norse jól and is, most likely, connected with “jolly,” though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation about which came first.

The original Norse festival of Jól was celebrated between the 20th and 31st December.

Yule and Yuletide are still used generally as an alternative name for Christmas, as they have for centuries, but it is the preferred name for the season by most Pagans of all persuasions, who usually use it now for the Solstice, rather than December 25.

Druids, however, will often call the Solstice Alban Arthan, which was first recorded by Iolo Morganwg.

So, what names for a Winter Solstice baby?

  • Aglaia — Greek aglaios “splendor”; one of the Graces
  • Alban — Welsh “solstice”; identical to the name of the saint, and quite probably sharing the same roots in the Common Celtic *albiyo- “upper world” and “white.”
  • Amaterasu — Japanese 天  “heaven,” “sky” and 照 “shine”; the name of the Japanese Goddess of the sun
  • Amber — one ancient belief was that amber was the solidified light of the setting sun on the sea.
  • Anwu — Igbo “sun”
  • Apollo — God of the sun
  • Arevik — Armenian name meaning “sun-like”
  • Arthan — An Old Welsh word meaning “winter”, connected by Iolo Morganwg with arth “bear.”
  • Arthur — Druids see Arthur as symbolic of the sun and equate him with the winter solstice.
  • Arun, Aruna — In Hindu mythology, Aruna is the charioteer of the sun.
  • Aster
  • Aten — Egyptian “disc of the sun”; the name of an Egyptian God, considered an aspect of Ra.
  • Aurinko — Finnish “sun”
  • Bay — one of the herbs traditionally added to a seasonal mulled wine
  • Cam — the Romani word for “sun” (and “to love”)
  • Cardamon — a spice added to mulled wines in the Middle Ages
  • Cerah — Malaysian “sunny” and “bright”
  • Chrysogon — Greek khrusogonos “gold-born”; Grisegond is an old variant
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrine — used since the eighteenth century as the name of a type of yellow topaz; it is believed to radiate the energy of the sun
  • Clove — one of the most important ingredients of a mulled wine
  • Cressida — derives ultimately from the Greek mythological Chryseis, meaning “(daughter) of Chryses” — a male Greek name from khrusos “gold.”
  • Day
  • Diell — Albanian “sun”
  • Eguzki — Basque “sun”
  • Enya — in the Native American language of Papai, enya means “sun.” The Irish Enya originated as the Anglicized form of Eithne used by the Irish singer-songwriter Enya; Eithne is an old form of Áine, the name of an Irish Goddess, whose name means “heat” and “light”.
  • Frankincense — an ancient resin, used as an incense since ancient times, and used for purification in Pagan temples. It is considered to be ruled by the Sun even today, and the Ancient Egyptians used it particularly in the worship of the sun God Ra.
  • Geola — Old English form of YULE
  • Gold — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Grian — an Irish Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Günay — Turkish girl’s name combining güneş “sun” + ay “moon”; Aygün is a variant
  • Haru — Japanese boy’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight”; Haruki, another boy’s name, combines it with 輝 “radiance, shine” or 生 “life,” while the girl’s name Haruko combines it with 子 “child.”
  • Heliodorus, Heliodora — Greek “gift of the sun”
  • Heliostásio — Modern Greek “solstice”
  • Helius — Greek God of the sun; his name means “sun”
  • Heuldro — Welsh “solstice”
  • Heulwen — Welsh haul “sun” + (g)wen “white,” “blessed” and “pure”; used since the late nineteenth century
  • Hina — Japanese girl’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight” or 日 “sun,” “day” + 菜 “vegetables”
  • Honey — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Iolo — although unrelated, Iolo (with its feminine form Iola) has a very similar ring to YULE…
  • Jólnir — a byname of Odin. Old Norse: jól “YULE”
  • Jolie — French jolie, feminie of joli “pretty,” derives from, or shares the same origin, as the Old Norse jól “YULE”
  • Jolly — sharing the same origin as JOLIE, if you find this too light, why not consider the “long-form” Jolyon, a form of Julian, deriving ultimately from Julius? Although, like Iolo, not related to Yule, the similarities are there…
  • Jua — Swahili “sun”
  • Kem — Romani “sun”; a variant of CAM
  • Khurshid — Old Persian “shining sun”; the name of an angel in Zoroastrianism associated with the sun
  • Light
  • Lucius
  • Lucy — English form of Lucia, the feminine of LUCIUS. St Lucy’s day was celebrated in many parts of Europe last week on the thirteenth; until the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, St Lucy’s used to fall on or around the Solstice.
  • Lux — Latin “light”
  • Maeve — Usual modern form of the Irish name Medb, which derives from the Common Celtic for MEAD (cognate with mead itself)
  • Matahari — Indonesian “sun” (from mata “eye” + hari “day”)
  • Mead — a beverage made from HONEY, dating back to ancient times; probably the unofficial official Pagan drink, especially for the Solstices; it shares honey’s associations with the sun.
  • Midwinter — a word used of the Solstice since Angl0-Saxon times
  • Mithras — the Greco-Roman God of the mystery religion of Mithraism, popular with Roman soldiers. His worship arrived from the East in the first century; he is identified with Sol Invictus, and his birthday was also celebrated on December 25.
  • Mull — “mulled wine,” from the verb “to mull” meaning “to warm.” The Island of Mull gets its name from a Gaelic word meaning “bare,” also quite appropriate for the season, since all is bare (the cognate Welsh word is used of bare, “bald” hills).
  • Myrene — an Amazon in Greek myth; Greek: murinês “sweet wine.”
  • Myristica — botanical name for NUTMEG, meaning “fragrant”
  • Naran — Mongolian name meaning “sun”
  • Natalia — from the Latin natale “bitth”; these days, associated with the birth of Jesus, but is just as appropriately applied to the rebirth of the Sun, as celebrated at Sol Invictus; Natalie and Nathalie are the popular French forms, and Natasha, the Russian pet-form.
  • Noel — Anglo-Norman noel “Christmas” from Latin natale —  see NATALIA
  • Nutmeg — another spice often added to a mulled wine
  • Oenone
  • Orange — oranges, being round and, well, orange, are often associated with the sun
  • Oriana — coined by Elizabethan poets in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, from Latin orior “to rise,” used specifically of the rising sun.
  • Orinda — another poetic invention coinage from orior (see Oriana above), this time of the seventeenth century.
  • Orun — Yoruba: òrùn “sun”
  • Phaëthon — Greek “shining”; the name of a son of Helius, famous for almost crashing the chariot of the sun
  • Phanes — a primeval Greek God, associated with MITHRAS; his name derives from the Greek phainô “to bring light.”
  • Phoebe
  • Phoebus — Greek: phoibos “bright” and “radiant”; epithet of Apollo
  • Ra — the Egyptian God of the Sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Ramesses — The name of a famous Pharaoh, meaning “RA/the sun bore him.”
  • Ravi — Sanskrit “sun”
  • Renaissance  — French “rebirth”; generally used since the nineteenth century of the cultural “rebirth” at the end of the Middle Ages, its basic meaning is simply “rebirth” and could be used as a name with reference to the rebirth of the sun at the Winter Solstice
  • René, Renée — French forms of RENATUS
  • Renatus, Renata — Latin “reborn”; used of the rebirth of the sun
  • — Chinese 日 “sun,” “day”
  • Samson — Hebrew: “child/man of SHAMASH”; Sampson is a common variant
  • Saulė — Lithuanian Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”; Saulenė is a variant
  • Shamash — major Assyrian God; his name means “sun” in Akkadian
  • Shams — Arabic “sun”
  • Shemshi — Swahili “sun”
  • Sherry — rolled out across the land at this time of year, particularly to leave out for Santa…
  • Soare — Romanian “sun”
  • Sol — Latin “sun”; Norse Sól meaing “sun” is the name of the Norse Goddess of the Sun
  • Solar
  • Solaris — Latin “of the sun”
  • Soleil — French “sun”
  • Solifer, Solifera — Latin “sun-bearing”
  • Soligena — Latin “sun-born”
  • Solstice
  • Solveig — Old Norse sól “sun” + veig “strength”
  • Sonne — German “sun”
  • Sorin — Romanian name, usually derived from SOARE
  • Sorina — feminine of SORIN
  • Sounia — epithet of Athena, from Sounion in Attica, which may, possibly, derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *su(w)en- “sun”; Latinized as Sunia
  • Stella
  • Sulien — Old Welsh name, probably meaning “sun-born”
  • Sun
  • Sunčana — Croatian name from sunče “sun”
  • Sunday — could be interpreted as referring to the Solstices as well as the day of the week
  • Sunlight
  • Sunna — Goddesss of the sun in Germanic tradition.
  • Sunniva — Old English: Sunngifu “sun-given”
  • Sunny
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Sunshine
  • Surya — Sanskrit “sun”; the Hindu God of the sun
  • Svarog — Slavic God of the sun; Slavic: svar “bright”
  • Tesni — Welsh name deriving from tes “sunshine” and “warmth”
  • Wassail — originally a salutation used when passing a cup to a guest; from the Old English wes hāl “be in good health”; in time it came to be used of the drink too, especially the spiced ale drunk during the twelve days of Christmas
  • Wine — another popular beverage of the season, especially mulled
  • Winter
  • Yáng — Chinese  陽 “sun,” “positive”
  • Youko — Japenese girl’s name: 陽 “sun” + 子 “child”
  • Yule — of course. Also the fab variant Yul. Yule was actually used as a given name in medieval times (with a feminine form Yula), surviving for some time on the Isle of Man in the form Jole.

With Yule and Sol Invictus to celebrate, I’ll be back at the Nook when the mead’s worn off…

A bright and blessed Solstice, Yule, Alban Arthan and Christmas one and all. :)

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Terentius Neo and his wife

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE which destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii.

It was, coincidentally, the day after the Vulcanalia — the Roman festival dedicated to the fire and smith God Vulcan.

The 24th itself was a festival in honor of both Luna — Goddess of the Moon — and Mania, Goddess of Death.

We know the names of many of the people who lived in Pompeii — and nearby Herculaneum, which was also devastated.

In memory of all those who died, below are some of the names of Roman men and women whose names were preserved in the ruins of Pompeii.

Their fates are unknown.

  • Acilius CedrusCedrus is the Latin for ‘cedar’; it is actually a feminine noun, but was clearly used here as a surname.
  • Aemilius CrescensAemilius is the source of the French Emile and English Emilia and Emily — among others. Crescens ‘growing’ and ‘thriving’ was a common surname, and there are other examples known from Pompeii. The standard feminine is Crescentina.
  • Arrius StephanusStephanus is the Greek for ‘garland’ and ‘crown’. The source of English Stephen, it was a common Greek name. Arrius Stephanus was probably a Greek slave freed by a member of the Arrius family.
  • Betutius Placidus, LuciusPlacidus — Latin for ‘gentle’, ‘calm’ and ‘mild’.
  • Biria
  • Caecilius Capella, LuciusCapella means ‘little goat’, and is another feminine noun used as a male surname! Best known today as the name of a star in Auriga.
  • Caecilius Iucundus, Lucius — famous to anyone who ever learned Latin with the Cambridge Latin Course (or has seen The Fires of Pompeii — an episode of Doctor Who). Caecilius is the origin of Cecil, Cecilia, Cecily and Cicely.
  • Caetronius Eutychus, GnaeusEutychus is another Greek name, and this fellow was probably another freed slave. From the Greek eutukhês ‘fortunate’ and ‘prosperous’. A character of the name turns up in the New Testament.
  • Calavia OptataOptata means ‘wished for’, ‘longed for’ and ‘welcome’, and more than one example is known from Pompeii
  • Caprasia
  • Caprasius FelixFelix ‘fortunate’ was a very common Roman surname.
  • Casellius Marcellus, MarcusMarcellus means simply ‘little Marcus’. It was another common surname, most famously borne by the very aristocratic Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the first husband of Augustus’ daughter Julia.
  • Cassia
  • Chlorus — a surname from the Greek khlôros ‘greenish-yellow’.
  • Cornelius Amandus, Lucius
  • Cosmus — another surname, this time from Greek kosmos ‘order’; source of the name Cosmo.
  • Junius Proculus, DeciusDecius is probably a ‘modern’ mistake for Decimus (as Shakespeare made in Julius Caesar), but the original source is lost. Proculus was another well-used surname, a diminutive form of procus ‘wooer’ and ‘suitor’.
  • Demetrius — a Greek name meaning ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Demeter. Source of Dmitri and (ultimately) Demi.
  • Dentatius Panthera, TitusPanthera is the Latin for ‘panther’.
  • Epaphra — short form of Greek Epaphrodita from epaphroditos ‘lovely’ and ‘charming’.
  • Epidia
  • Epidius FortunatusFortunatus means ‘prosperous’, ‘happy’, ‘lucky’. Another popular surname.
  • Equitia
  • Erastus — Greek ‘beloved’ and ‘lovely’.
  • Euplia — possibly from the Greek euploia ‘fair voyage’
  • Fabia — the Fabii were a very important family, though most bearers descended from former slaves and other dependents.
  • Fabius Celer, MarcusCeler was another popular Roman surname meaning ‘swift’.
  • Fabius Memor, MarcusMemor means ‘mindful’ and ‘remembering’
  • Faventinus — from favens ‘favoring’ and ‘befriending’.
  • Fortunata
  • Fufidius Successus, NumeriusNumerius is one of the rarer Roman first names.
  • Gavius RufusRufus ‘red’ and ‘ruddy’ was one of the commonest Roman surnames.
  • Grata Metallica — yes, Metallica (I wonder if the Swedish family who fought to call their daughter Metallica knew it was used as a given name in Roman times?). From metallicus ‘of metal’ and ‘metallic’; ‘mine-worker’.
  • Helpis Afra — Greek elpis ‘hope’; Afer ‘African’.
  • Hirtia Psacas — Greek psakas ‘drop of rain’, grain’ and ‘morsel’.
  • Julius Nicephorus, GaiusNicephorus is Greek, meaning ‘bearing victory’
  • Livius Firmus, LuciusFirmus was another common surname, meaning ‘strong’, ‘steadfast’ and ‘powerful’
  • Loreius Tiburtinus
  • Lucretius Fronto, Marcus
  • Lusoria
  • Mestrius Maximus, QuintusMaximus needs little intro — Latin ‘greatest’. Not uncommon.
  • Numicia PrimigeniaPrimigenia means ‘primal’; it was an epithet of the Goddess Fortuna.
  • Numisius Rarus, LuciusRarus ‘thin’ and ‘rare’.
  • Nymphius — a family name of Greek origin, from numphê ‘nymph’ and ‘bride’.
  • Octavius RomulusRomulus was one of the legendary founders of Rome.
  • Oppia
  • Oppius GratusGratus, another surname, meaning ‘beloved’, ‘dear’ and ‘agreeable’.
  • Paccia
  • Paccius Clarus, PubliusClarus ‘clear’, ‘bright’ and ‘shining’. Source of Clara and Clare.
  • Pinarius CerealisCerealis ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Ceres’.
  • Plotilla
  • Pomaria
  • Popidius Metallicus
  • Poppaeus SabinusSabinus ‘Sabine’, source of Sabin and Sabina. The emperor Nero’s second wife was called Poppaea Sabina, and had property near Pompeii
  • Primilla — feminine diminutive of primus ‘first’.
  • Pupius, Marcus
  • Salvius — another family name familiar to anyone who has done the Cambridge Latin Course. From salvus ‘safe’ and ‘sound’.
  • Sextilius VerusVerus, another popular Roman surname — ‘true’, ‘real’, ‘genuine’.
  • Sibilla Pompeiana
  • Spurius Saturninus, MarcusSaturninus, Roman surname meaning ‘belonging to (the God) Saturn’
  • Suettius ElainusElainus is a surname of Greek origin, from elainos ‘of olive-wood’
  • Sutoria Primigenia
  • Terentius Neo, TitusNeo — from the Greek neos ‘new’… so Neo is not so ‘new’ as a name as some folk may think!
  • Tettius Faustus, GaiusFaustus, another common surname meaning ‘of favorable omen’, ‘auspicious’. The origin, obviously, of Faust.
  • Trebius Valens, AulusValens, yet another of the most common surnames, valens means ‘strong’, ‘healthy’ and ‘powerful’ and is the source of Valentine and Valentina.
  • Vedius VestalisVestalis, a surname meaning ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Vesta’.

All names included here have been ordered their family (gens) name (where known). Not all first names (praenomina) or surnames (cognomina) are known.

In the Roman system of naming, male citizens usually had three names: a first name (praenomen) — of which there were only a few in common use — the name of their gens ‘family’ or ‘clan’ (nomen), and their surname (cognomen).

Women were mostly known by the feminine form of their family/clan name, or the feminine form of a surname. But sometimes they bore both, or two family names, or two surnames.

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Today sees the first Pick of the Week here at the Nook.

Pick of the Week will feature a name which is oozing Pagan charm but which does not feature in the top 100 names in the UK or US (and often not in the top 1000!).

If there’s a particular name you’d like to see featured in Pick of the Week, why not drop me an email?

So — let the fanfare sound! — the first Nook of Names Pick of the Week is Lucius!

Lucius is a particularly rich and potent name, with a long Pagan history.

It began as a Roman first name — or praenomen, to be precise.

By the end of the Roman Republic, there weren’t very many praenomina in use any more, as most Romans were known by the name of their gens (‘family’ or ‘clan’), or their cognomen — a sort of surname or byname which was often (but not always) inherited.

But Lucius was a praenomen — the closest thing to our concept of given names as the Romans got. Moreover, it was one of the three most common praenomina (the other two being Gaius and Marcus).

It was in use in Rome from at least the 7th Century BCE.

One of the earliest recorded bearers was Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome. He was actually an Etruscan by birth — and the legend says he was originally called Lucumo.

This has caused some to speculate that Lucius is actually derived from the Etruscan Lucumo. Lucumo, however, was an Etruscan title — often translated as ‘king’ — given to Etruscan princes and priests.

It therefore seems more likely that Lucumo (if he and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus really ever existed, and really were one and the same) adopted the Latin Lucius as a Roman version — something people have done across the ages.

By far the most likely origin of Lucius is the Latin lux ‘light’. And in all probability, Lucius was in use as a given name before the Romans developed family names.

It almost certainly parented the gens name Lucilius.

Light was strongly associated by the Romans with birth — the time when a baby first saw light, after its long gestation in the dark womb.  The Roman Goddess of childbirth is Lucina — whose name also derives from lux.  It is she who brings a new baby ‘into the light’.

Prehistoric barrows, such as Newgrange, which have a distinctly womb-like appearance and are aligned to allow light to enter at a certain time of the year, perhaps demonstrate a similar association between birth, (rebirth) and the light among the ancient Celts too.

Another important sacred term deriving from lux is lucus ‘sacred grove’ — presumably arising from the fact such groves tend to involve a clearing of some kind, which will naturally be lighter than the surrounding wood.

Technically, Lucius could also mean ‘of/belonging to the sacred grove’.

Although the association of Lucius and light may have had deeper spiritual connotations when it was first used, by the historic Roman period, the association had become more general; Roman commentators said that Lucius was a name given to those born during the hours of daylight.

So many significant Romans bore the name that it would be impossible to list them all, but here are just a few:

  • Lucius Junius Brutus — one of the legendary founders of the Roman Republic. Marcus Junius Brutus, assassin of Caesar, claimed descent from him.
  • Lucius Cornelius Sulla — Dictator of Rome in 81 BCE
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca — Roman philosopher and playwright — and tutor of the Emperor Nero.
  • Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus — birth name of the Emperor Nero.
  • Lucius Aurelius Augustus Verus (generally known as Lucius Verus) — husband of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ daughter, Lucilla. He and Lucilla had two daughters and a son, Lucius Verus, who died young. Both Lucilla and the younger Lucius Verus featured in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 2000.

Another Lucius was the writer Lucius Apuleius. His surviving work is The Golden Ass, a bawdy, frivolous romantic comic novel in which the principal character – also Lucius – experiments with magic, ends up turned into an ass and eventually, restored to human form, is initiated into the cult of Isis.

The dashing Cavalier politican and writer, Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland

Inevitably, being such a common name, Lucius crops up in the New Testament, and there are five saints of the name, of varying degrees of historicity.

Despite this, the name wasn’t really seen in the English-speaking world until the 16th Century, when it was plucked straight from the pages of classical mythology.

A significant early bearer was Lucius Cary (1610-43), an English writer and Royalist politician.

In recent years, however, Lucius has become firmly associated with just one figure, the fictional wizard Lucius Malfoy, played in the films by the delicious Jason Isaacs. J. K. may well have chosen it for its similarity to Lucifer, though whether in her mind she had simply the Christian devil in her head, or whether she was also thinking of the name Lucifer’s real meaning and significance is impossible to say without asking her (and I’m not sure she’d answer!).

And what is Lucifer’s real meaning and significance?

In Latin lucifer means simply ‘bearing light’, deriving from lux + fero ‘to bear’ and ‘to bring’.

To the Pagan Romans, Lucifer was the name of the Morning Star — Venus — the son of the Goddess Aurora (Goddess of the dawn), and carried no connotations of evil of any kind.

But because a single passage in the Old Testament (which isn’t even about a so-called fallen angel, but a Babylonian king!) makes a reference to the Morning Star, the Roman mythological/astronomical name Lucifer got pinched, and glued onto the Christian devil.

And it has been sadly stuck there festering ever since.

Other fictional Lucii (Latin plural of Lucius :D) include two Lucii in Shakespeare’s plays — one in Titus Andronicus (Titus’ son), and one in Julius Caesar (a servant).

No fewer than four Lucii appear in the Arthurian cycles. The most signicant is a Roman Emperor, sometimes called Lucius Tiberius or Lucius Hiberius, with whom Arthur goes to war and defeats in battle at Soissons in Gaul.

Other more modern fictional bearers include Lucius Fox in the Batman universe, the vampire Lucius a.k.a. ‘Lucien LaCroix’ in Canadian TV series Forever Knight (1992-96), played by Nigel Bennett, and Roman soldier Lucius Vorenus in Rome (2005-07), played by Kevin McKidd.

The traditional English pronunciation of Lucius is ‘LOO-see-uhs’, but ‘LOOSH-uhs’ is heard too. If a short-form is required, Lu works well.

So if you’re after something a bit different, a good, solid ‘Pagan name’ with plenty of tradition and heritage, Lucius might be just the name for you!

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