Saturday, March 29, 2008

Greek Cat Names

Perhaps the most well known pantheon, at least as far as westerners are concerned. The exploits of these gods and goddesses have maintained their metaphorical purpose of reflecting human nature while capturing the imagination of artists for well over 2,000 years. As for cats, they were initially used as nothing more than a commodity. Later, they were given a greater degree of respect, although coming nowhere near the level of religious fanaticism displayed by the Egyptians. Cats do appear on Greek vases, and even the comic playwright Aristophanes found a way of sneaking cats into his theatrical presentations. Since the inhabitants of Mount Olympus are so well known to Western Civilization, don't be surprised if you already know a cat named after one of these famous deities.

ADONIS (A-Don'-Is; Male): Today, when most people hear this name, they imagine a caricature of a conceited, sun-bronzed, muscle-bound freak. Actually, Adonis was the god of vegetation--How he came to be thought of as the quintessential "Gorgeous Greek God" is actually closely related to the reason he was thought of as the god of vegetation and rebirth. There are several variations to this story, but the following is perhaps the most well known. It all begins with a foolish boast on the part of the King of Cyprus. Bragging that his daughter, Myrrha, was more beautiful than even Aphrodite, the King managed to stir up the anger of the volatile goddess. Seeing to it that Myrrha would fall in love with her father, Aphrodite then manipulated her actions into seducing her father while he drank himself into one of his frequent episodes of wild intoxication. The result of this tragic union was Adonis. The King was so sickened by his actions that he sought to kill the baby, but Aphrodite got to the child first and hid him in a chest which she gave to Persephone, goddess of the Underworld, for safe keeping. Unable to contain her curiosity, Persephone peeked into the chest and was instantly enchanted by the overwhelming beauty of the child. Falling in love with his newborn charms, she made up her mind to keep the child. The years passed and Adonis grew into a remarkably handsome man. Eventually Aphrodite returned to the Underworld, expecting to reclaim Adonis since she had become rather taken by his beauty as well. Persephone would hear none of it, so the two goddess fought a no-win battle with one another for the prize of the beautiful young man. Things got so bad between the goddesses that Zeus had to intervene and settle matters. He decided that Adonis should spend one-third of his year as he liked, one-third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, and the last third of his year in the rejuvenating company of Aphrodite. From this arrangement, Adonis became associated with the withering vegetation of Fall and Winter, and the reborn vegetation of Spring. All things considered, this name is still best suited for a vainglorious cat of uncommon beauty.

AEOLUS (Male): The god of the winds. Special to the supreme goddess Hera. One tale tells how Aeolus sought to help the wandering sailor Odysseus by presenting all the winds (except for one) secured tightly within a small sack of sheepskin. Unfortunately, the one wind not included was the West wind--the only one Odysseus needed to get home. Since his crew was a bit on the untrustworthy side, they became suspicious of the contents of Aeolus' bag. While he was sound asleep, the crew decided to peek in the sheepskin bag. Naturally, the three winds all escaped at once,blowing the ship every which way in complete chaos until the vessel was hopelessly off course. This story reminds me of the phrase: "Letting the cat out of the bag," even though that adage has a totally different source of origin. All the same, Aeolus is a title that would fit any active, rambunctious feline that behaves more like a cyclone than a house cat.

ALPHITO (Female): Since the name of this minor goddess (she ruled barley) means "White", what better name for a white cat? The only problem is, this manifestation of white has more to do with the pallor of sickness and disease than with purity. Oh well, I won't tell if you don't. It would be a shame if such a nice name went to waste.

APHRODITE (Female): Born from the foam of the sea which rose as a result of blood dripping from her emasculated father Cronus, Aphrodite became the goddess of love and beauty. This is a polite way of saying she was the goddess of sex. In the case of Aphrodite, perhaps it would be more accurate to say she was the goddess of sex, sex, and more sex. Obviously all this sex couldn't possibly be good 100% of the time, and it wasn't. Aphrodite was as well known for the pain she brought as she was for the pleasures of sexual passion which she personified. The lesson she taught was: "Every pleasure has its price." The most notorious example of this is when she promised Paris, a Prince of Troy, the love of the world's most beautiful woman, Helen, if only he would judge her the fairest goddess in a ridiculous contest that developed between Aphrodite, Hera, and Athene. Unable to resist such a lusty bribe, the foolish Prince declared Aphrodite the winner, which irked Hera and Athene to no end. True to her word, the goddess Aphrodite allowed Helen to fall under the seductive charms of young Paris. The only problem was, Helen was already married to a Greek king named Menelaus, who just so happened to be host to the visiting Trojan prince. And so, Helen and Paris eloped in the dead of night off to Troy, having made enemies of not only King Menelaus, but of several other Greek kings and warriors as well, not to mention Hera and Athene who both vowed to destroy the grand city of Troy. What happened next most everyone knows--a ten year war that didn't come to an end until a certain wooden horse came on the scene. In spite of all the pain and misery that Aphrodite brings to those who naively think of love as a simple matter full of sunshine and lollipops, she is still the goddess of beauty and can be very gentle to those who respect and understand her sensual and complex nature. Obviously this is a name you would give to an over-sexed cat that seems locked in a perpetual heat.

APOLLO (Male): This god, considered the greatest of them all second only to Zeus, was born on Delos, previously known as Ortygia, "the isle of quails." Right away we've got a shaky "cats n' birds" tie-in that simplifies matters considerably. Apollo was, among other things, a god of light. He was said to have killed a gigantic serpent when he was only a child. It might be added that since his diet consisted of only nectar and ambrosia (the food of the gods), his childhood lasted a mere four days. God of prophecy, tolerance, music, and medicine, he was also a pastoral god who spent many long periods tending to flocks in beautiful meadows. Apollo isn't a name for just any cat, but if you happen to have a cat worthy of this name, you'll know it. Most likely he'll be a strong and proud cat of extremely noble temperament. He'll no doubt like basking in the sun and relaxing in the grass on those long Summer days, even if those long Summer days happen to be nicknamed "dog-days."

ARES (Male): Nobody liked this god and it's easy to understand why. He was hateful, bloodthirsty, strong, and vengeful. But he had to be. Ares was the god of war, and if you're going to have a god of war, he damn well better be a nasty S.O.B. Here's a name for a fighter cat if ever there was one. If a mean spirited cat such as this happens to be in your life, look on the bright side. At least you won't have to worry about rodent invasions or sneak attacks by enemy cats (or small dogs...)

ARGOS (Male): This thing had 100 eyes distributed all over its body so that 50 could stay alert and watchful while the other 50 slept, alternating in shifts. And what was he watching? Hera sent him to keep vigil over Io who was a priestess that Zeus had been fooling around with and whom he had turned into a cow so the jealous Hera might be fooled by the disguise. Determined to catch the priestess/cow as she transformed back into human form, Hera stationed Argos in a position where he'd be sure to see the exact moment this happened. The plan didn't work. Zeus sent Hermes down to Argos with the express purpose of getting rid of the beast. This Hermes did by charming Argos into slumber, whereupon he slew the beast by chopping off its head. Hera, rather fond of her sentinel, honored his memory by placing his eyes on the tail feathers of the peacock, which was her favorite bird. Anyway, if your cat is one of those types that you always notice staring at you when you least expect it, then here's the perfect name.

ARTEMIS (Female): This goddess was a real feminist. She was patron to young girls and provided comfort to women in childbirth. She was known as the virgin huntress, and she chose to spend her time among a clan of toughened nymphs living in the greatoutdoors of a land called Arcadia. Artemis was also called "Mistress of Beasts" and "Goddess of Wild Things." It's not surprising then that she was also considered a fertility goddess. In fact, she is often portrayed in sculpture with dozens of plump breasts. What is surprising is that this fertility goddess was a perpetual virgin. The race of warrior women called the Amazons worshipped her as the goddess of the New Moon. Strong, athletic, and temperamental, this was no goddess to irritate. Even looking at her could kill. She was also very demanding when it came to her worship. She was known to bring down entire empires simply because a sacrifice might have been overlooked. I don't know about you, but I've known cats like this. Twenty minutes late with their mealtime and it's shredded curtains, magazines, toilet-paper, whatever. Taking all this intoconsideration, you might name your moody, outdoor loving, rough and tough mistress cat after this powerful goddess of the wilderness and nature.

ATHENE (Female): Another virgin goddess and another feminist, Athene was considerably more powerful, and far more practical than Artemis. She was the goddess of wisdom and freedom as well as an all powerful goddess of war, which made her a most formidable opponent indeed. Possessing both reason and an indefatigable warrior spirit, Athene was a far more efficient general than the rash Ares. With such admirable qualities she was adopted as the protectress of Athens, which was in fact named for her. Among the many disciplines that fell under her control were: writing, the sciences, architecture, embroidery, and just about anything else dealing with artistic skills, wise counsel, and of course battle and warfare. She was also, no kidding, the goddess of women's rights and patroness of career women. Naturally, this is a good name for a smart and brave cat, thoughtful and fearless. Such cats are rare, but if you are living with such a cat, Athene would be an honorable name to give her.

ATLAS (At'-Las; Male): Known as the Titan (the Titans were the predecessors to the Olympian Gods) who was charged with holding the heavens upon his back. His name has come to be synonymous with map books ever since the cover of one such book depicted the giant holding the earth upon his shoulders. With the connotation of travel buried in this name, it just very well may suit a well traveled kitty, even if that only means well traveled around the neighborhood.

BENDIS (Ben'-Dis; Female): Short but sweet. Bendis was the Thracian Moon goddess. Her cult celebrated her rites with wild orgies. As the cult spread south to Athens, the orgy stuff toned down a bit being considered distasteful to the refined Athenians. Whether or not your cat's behavior warrants such a name is nobody's business but your own...and your cat's of course.

CHARON (Kar'-en; Male): This is one of those black cat names. Charon was the guy who piloted the ferryboat across the river Styx, taking the dead to the Underworld kingdom of Hades.

CRONUS (Krow'-nus; Male): Not a god, but a Titan. The Titans were the progenitors of the Olympian gods, with Cronus himself the father of Zeus. The story of this parentage is rather unappetizing as it deals with the eating of babies. Obviously old Cronus didn't get to baby Zeus, but he thought he did. You see, his wife RHEA hid Zeus and wrapped a stone in blankets as a substitute. Naturally, the old Titan never knew the difference. Time passed, and Zeus grew up to do battle against his tyrannical father, employing the assistance of his long devoured siblings which Cronus decided to vomit up at the behest of Rhea. Zeus and the others eventually defeated Cronus whereupon they took over as the Olympian gods we all know and love. Since the Titans were giants, I can picture Cronus as an appropriate name for a huge, well-fed cat with a somewhat grouchy attitude.

CYBELE (Sigh'-Bell-Ee; Female): A rather dark goddess who ruled over the natural world and wild beasts, particularly lions which were always found within her retinue. She was said to be a goddess of vengeful magic and of caverns. Her followers were well known for their loud celebrations and for their ecstatic habit of self-mutilation. Lions, black magic, caverns, self-mutilation. If you know of a cat possessing qualities worthy of this name, move.

DANAE (Dan'-Eye; Female): Not a goddess, but the mother of the great hero Perseus. If you have a beautiful golden toned cat, then consider the following story. Zeus, always looking for a new mortal to seduce, became infatuated with Danae. The only problem, as always, was the rightfully suspicious eye of his wife Hera. Zeus, wracked his immortal brain trying to come up with a disguise that Hera hadn't seen before. He finally decided upon turning himself into a shower of gold coins which rained upon Danae, much to Hera's confusion. With this tale in mind, you might find Danae a pleasant and appropriate name for your gold colored cat.

DEMETER ( Deh-Mee'-Ter; Female): Goddess of the fertile earth and symbol of timeless motherhood (Persephone was her daughter). Demeter is probably best known for establishing what were known as "The Eleusinian Mysteries." This was the collective name given to a series of teachings, rituals, and celebrations that comprised a secret religious society whose doctrines remain unknown to this day. About all that is known about this mystery religion is that its secrets were only given to devotees after a complex initiation involving dramatic presentations and symbolic rites. No one knows what these celebrations were all about--quite remarkable when you consider that these secrets have been kept for over two-thousand years. It follows then that this name could be given to just about any female cat, mysterious creatures that they are...silently holding their secrets over hundreds of centuries...secrets we humans will never uncover.

DIONYSUS (Dye'-Eh-Nye'-Sus; Male): Basically, the god of wine and its attendant Hell-Raising. The stories surrounding this son of Zeus are many and most portray a restless character, hedonistic to the extreme, wild and unruly. And this was if you caught him on a good day. But this young god's behavior was nothing compared to the antics of his followers, the most famous of which were called the Maenads, or as we would call them today: crazy women. The Maenads were truly dangerous. They wore animal skins and lived in a state of continuous dementia. One of their favorite things to do was tear apart men with their bare hands. If your cat is perpetually rowdy, then maybe he has a touch of Dionysus in him already.

THE DIOSCURI (Dye-Oh-Skoo'-Ree; Males): Here we have a situation that may appeal to those who own two cats. The Dioscuri is the collective name given to CASTOR and POLLUX,, the twin sons of Zeus. Tradition holds that, concerning twins, one was natural and the other was of divine nature and therefore immortal. In this case it was Pollux who was the immortal child. These two had many adventures, including a tour of duty aboard the ship Argos with Jason in search of the Golden Fleece. Their exploits turned to more and more warlike ventures, and inevitably Castor was killed. So grief stricken was Pollux, that Zeus took pity and gave Castor immortality so the brothers could be together for eternity. They are still together in fact, and can be seen in the stars of the Zodiacal constellation called Gemini.

EROS (Air'-Os; Male): When most people think of this cherubic infant-god, they think of Valentine's Day or some light and pleasant aspect of romantic love. Son of the goddess Aphrodite, he was the personification of the treacherous force called attraction. Eros was capable of driving both men and women to suicidal acts, stirring passions in homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. An individual smitten by one of this god's arrows was in serious trouble. Filled with irrational desire and longing, they were never to be satisfied until the object of their desire was completely absorbed and annihilated in union. Usually, this led to hideously tragic results. Obviously this name would best suit a cat whose personality and nature go far deeper than what is initially apparent. It is a hard learned lesson that things taken for granted, whether sexual attraction or a docile seeming house cat, have a tendency of sneaking up and biting you if you're not careful.

THE EUMENIDES (Yoo-Men'-Ah-Deez; Females): Got three female cats lying around? Then here's a group of names that might be put to good use. The Eumenides were three virgin goddesses responsible for tracking down murderers and plaguing them with horrible visions and torments designed to drive them insane with guilt. They specialized in persons guilty of matricide (mother-killing). Individually they were: ALLECTO, (Ah-Lect'-Oh); TISIPHONE (Tih-Sih'-Foh-Nee); and MEGAERA(Meg-Eye'-Rah). Also known as The Furies, these ladies were not to be crossed. One could remain in their graces by showing loyalty to familial bonds. To do otherwise was looking for trouble. Just ask Oedipus.

GAIA (Guy'-Ah; Female): The name if you happen to have one of those matronly, Mother-Goddess cats. Gaia was the goddess of the earth, worshipped by both men and gods since she had been around longer than either. Considered the mother of ALL, Gaia existed from the very beginning along with Chaos, the void. Through an act of self-generation she gave birth to her son URANUS, the sky. Mother and son then mated producing the Titans, which in turn were responsible for the rise of the Olympian gods. She blessed weddings, offered comfort to the sick, and was the paragon of the oracular arts. One could secure her favors by offering fresh fruits to her shrine. So sacred was her name that oaths were sealed under its protection. We can only guess at the fate of the poor sap foolish enough to break such an oath.

GANYMEDE (Gan'-Ah-Meed; Male): Once there was a goddess named HEBE whose job was to serve the gods their daily libations of ambrosia and nectar. One day, while allowing her thoughts to stray, she tripped and spilled a goblet full of nectar all over her father Zeus. Hebe was promptly fired from her cup-bearing responsibilities and was given the task of being goddess of youth. Meanwhile, Zeus sent forth an eagle to search for another cup-bearer. Before long, the eagle came upon a beautiful young man named Ganymede. Grabbing the boy in its powerful talons, the eagle carried Ganymede all the way back to Mount Olympus where he took up Hebe's former duties. Thinking it good policy to keep his employees happy, Zeus decided that the boy should also assume the role of rain god. Nice generic name for a sharp looking cat.

THE GORGONS (Females): Another terrible trio. Individually they were: STHENO (Stee'-No); EURYALE (Yoo-Ree'-Ah-Lee); and of course MEDUSA (Meh-Doo'-Sah). These girls were all said to be quite beautiful, even Medusa, the only famous one the three. Medusa ran into trouble during an indiscreet affair with Poseidon, the god of the sea. It seems the two spent a rather hot and steamy night together in the temple of Athene. The disrespectful nature of this act upset the goddess Athene so much that she transformed Medusa into a hideous monster with snakes for hair. Simply by looking upon this unfortunate Gorgon was enough to turn a person into stone, so horrible was her appearance. Taking an evil pleasure in her new lapidary skills, Medusa instigated a reign of terror throughout Greece, leaving weird-looking statues of frightened people wherever she went. She was eventually killed by the hero Perseus. If you're thinking about naming your cats after these three, it's not necessary that one of them be ugly. Still, one must take all possibilities into consideration.

THE GRACES (Females): Another trio! These goddesses personified the life giving rays of sunlight, bringing joy and happiness to all they touched. They were: AGLAIA (Ag-Lay'-Ah), the shining one; THALIA (Thah'-Lee-Ah), the flowering one; and EUPHROSYNE (Yoo-Froh-See'-Nah), the one who makes people joyful. Three names to keep in mind if you have three sweet-natured felines.

HADES (Hay'-Deez; Male): Being the ruler of the Underworld, Hades was naturally the god of death, but he was also the god of prosperity and wealth. He could be terrifying or generous depending on where one stood in his favor. The way one kept on his good side was by offering him black sheep. Hades didn't get around much, preferring to stay home in his Underworld kingdom with his wife Persephone to whom he was faithful. So just what was the Underworld? It was thought of as a vast underground kingdom of caves and tunnels and spacious subterranean expanses, all interconnected by various rivers like Acheron, Lethe, or Styx. The spirits of all dead mortals went to the Underworld. After dying, a person got to the Underworld by first traveling through the groves of Persephone, onto the gates of Hades which were guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus. Once passing through these gates you would be greeted by Charon, the boatman, who would take you over the river Acheron to your new home. There were of course various divisions to the vast Underworld. For instance, if you were particularly virtuous in life then you might spend eternity in an area known as the Elysian Fields. If, however, you happened to be one of the bad people, then a region called Tartarus was more likely to be your final resting place. If you were merely an average human being, neither spectacularly good or bad, you just spent the infinite among the general population, wandering the dark cavernous expanse of the Underworld-neither a good thing or a bad thing. A name for a dominant black cat.

HEBE (Hee'-Bee; Female): Daughter of Zeus and Hera, and goddess of youth. For a bit more detail, see GANYMEDE entry. A name for active, playful cats that never seem to lose the kitten in them.

HECATE (Hek-Ah'-Tey; Female): Goddess of the moon, patroness of witches, and Queen of the spirit world, Hecate was a close alley of Zeus. She was often associated with the triple aspect of goddesses (Virgin, Matron, Crone), which also connects her to the waxing and waning of the lunar cycle. She is often envisioned within a mighty chariot drawn by fierce dragons. You could often find her at crossroads or in tombs. Another of her favorite places to hang-out was at the scenes of horrible crimes. Mysterious and fascinatingly dark, Hecate fits the personality of "witchy" cats, regardless of whether they are black cats or not.

HELIOS (Hee'-Lee-Ohs; Male): From the goddess of the moon we go to the god of the sun. Unlike Apollo who was the god of the sun's light, Helios was the god of the sun itself--an interesting distinction. Anyway, he was a rather minor god, worshipped only on the island of Rhodes. Elsewhere he was thought of as a benevolent force of nature that brought wealth and edification to the world. Another one of those "sunbathing cat" names.

HEPHAESTUS (Heh-Fest'-Us; Male): This guy was supposed to be lame and ugly, which is surprising considering he was a son of Zeus and Hera. Hera was so repulsed by the sight of him that she stashed him away where no one would ever see him. Sick and tired of all the abuse he endured from his mother and the other gods as well, Hephaestus planned his revenge while exiled from his rightful place on Mount Olympus. Since he was the god of blacksmiths and artisans, as well as of craftsmen and mechanics, Hephaestus had quite a few tricks up his sleeve. He constructed a wonderful golden throne for Hera which she haughtily accepted. Little did she know of the trap that this throne contained, however, she found out as soon as she sat on it. In an instant, she was locked within its sturdy frame. Mad as hell, she demanded her freedom, which Hephaestus refused since he had a few demands himself. First off, he insisted that he be wedded to the voluptuous Aphrodite. Second, and most important, he demanded full godhood status upon Olympus. Third, he didn't want any more cracks about the way he walked. Hera agreed to everything, and before long, Hephaestus was proving himself a most useful addition to the pantheon. He built the gods magnificent palaces and chariots and countless other gadgets. He even helped in the birth of Athene by whacking Zeus on the head with an ax in an effort to relieve his father's headache. The headache went away, but not before splitting open Zeus' head allowing Athene to hop on out fully grown and suited up for battle. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you have an ugly cat, but if you suspect that you do, this name might add a touch of class to an otherwise plain feline existence. Of course, to hard-core cat lovers, there are no ugly cats. If you find yourself among this contingent, you can still name your cat Hephaestus in recognition of his skilled and crafty nature.

HERA (Hair'-Ah; Female): By now you probably know quite a lot about Hera, Queen of the gods and wife to the prodigiously unfaithful ZEUS. Actually, Hera was a remarkably faithful wife in contrast to the infidelities of her husband. Over and over, Zeus would sneak around and cheat on her, and over and over, Hera would try and thwart his amorously clandestine plans. After reading several accounts of this relationship, you get the impression that the whole thing was a big game to these two. Unfortunately, the mortal women that Zeus was so attracted to usually didn't find the game very much fun, especially once Hera found them out. For while Hera could be noble and generous, she was no one to mess with.Her temper was infamous. After all, this goddess saw to it that Troy was destroyed and that every last Trojan was wiped out of existence , simply because Paris thought APHRODITE was hotter than she. Here's the ultimate name for a jealous cat, a regal cat, a vindictive cat, a sneaky cat, a matronly cat, or even a faithful cat. And if your cat possesses all of these qualities, just make sure you don't piss her off...or else!

HERMES (Her'-Meez; Male ): You'd recognize Hermes. He's the guy on the F.T.D. Florists logo. You know, with the little wings on his helmet and sandals? Just in case you thought that was Mercury, well, you're right, he's the Roman equivalent. Hermes was the messenger god due to his swiftness, signified by the wings. From messenger god he went on to become the god of travelers, which led to his deification as god of trade and commerce. One of his most well known accessories was called the caduceus, which is the staff bearing two intertwined snakes. Since this symbol has come to be associated with the medical profession, you'd think that Hermes had something to do with healing, but this just isn't so. His contemporary affiliation with modern medicine probably goes back to his swift nature, as in: "Get well soon." Anyway, he was the son of Zeus and one of those mortal women we we're just talking about (see Hera entry) named Maia. Being the god of travel, Hermes came to be thought of as the force ruling over the coming and going seasons. Since there were four seasons his rule was extended to include the four winds, then the four elements. From this he became the patron of alchemy, philosophy, and of course Hermetic magic. No doubt, many of you are living with a cat that shares many traits attributed to this god whether it be lightening speed, craftiness, or mystic tendencies. If this happens to be the case, you might name him in honor of this most ingenious god.

HESTIA (Hess'-Tee-Ah; Female): She was the firstborn to Cronus and Rhea, making her the oldest of the Olympian gods. Hestia was the goddess of the home fires. The hearth. As such, she came to personify domestic order and tranquillity. I can picture a large, well fed cat napping soundly before a glowing fireplace. You know the rest...

HYPERION (High-Peer'-Ee-On; Male): His name means something close to "the big guy upstairs." This makes sense considering he was originally honored as a sky god. Another Titan. Father of Helios and Selene as well as Eos (goddess of the dawn; a.k.a. Aurora.). Not all that interesting as far as gods go, but what a nice name! Can't you just see a cat with a name like Hyperion? What kind of cat? Any kind. Don't be difficult...

HYPNOS (Hip'-Nos; Male): Obviously he has something to do with sleep, wouldn't you think? Well he does. In fact, he is sleep. He was an extremely powerful god, having influence over humans as well as his fellow gods and goddesses. Son of the Titan, Nux (Night), brother to Thanatos (Death), and father of Morpheus (god of dreams), Hypnos was kind of like the sandman or sleep-fairy of Ancient Greece. Without question one of the best names you'll find anywhere for a perpetually napping cat. Incidentally, given what we know of this god, does it really matter whether you name a boy cat or a girl cat after him?

ILYTHIA (Ill-Ith'-Ee-Ah; Female): While other goddesses might have controlled some abstraction relating to the birth process like "fertility" or "regeneration," only Illythia was the honest to goodness, card-carrying goddess of childbirth. She covered it all; the pain, the joy, the relief, the baby's crying breath of life-you name it. No one would ever have been born without her presence. She was said to carry the torch that brought light to the eyes of newborns all across the world. As you might guess, I'm going to suggest that this be a name given to female cats falling into the classification known as 'kitten-factories'.

IO (Ee'-Oh; Female): The unfortunate cow/priestess of Hera that was seduced by the goddess's husband, Zeus. For more details surrounding this outlandish tale, see the ARGOS entry. Any significant cat connection? No. Just a pretty name, that's all.

IRIS (Eye'-Ris; Female): The goddess of the rainbow. She sometimes acted as a personal courier to Zeus, sometimes as a handmaiden to Hera. Once again, just another pretty name, although you may consider it particularly appropriate for a colorful Calico cat.

LETO (Lee'-Toh; Female): This night goddess was the mother of Apollo which really sent Hera into an uproar since Zeus was the father. Just out of spite, Hera managed to keep Illythia away from Leto when it came time for her to give birth. Since birth is impossible without Illythia's guidance, poor Leto had to wait for nine days of excruciating pain until Iris found the goddess of birth. Illythia, led by Iris, finally got to Leto, whereupon she at last could give birth to the great god Apollo. Kind of a macabre story, but don't forget, Leto was a night goddess which means her name might well suit a nocturnal feline.

MORPHEUS (More'-Fee-Us; Male): Son of HYPNOS, and god of dreams, as well as the source for the word Morphine. Since dreams are an entire world unto themselves, Morpheus is something like a king, and a mighty one at that. Another obvious name for a night cat.

THE MUSES(Females): I know what you're saying. You're saying: "All right, you've done dual names for people with two cats, and triple names for people with three cats...what about something for those of us with nine female cats?" Don't worry. You don't think I'd forget about the "nine-female-cat" people, do you? As it turns out, there just couldn't be a more perfect set of names for you than those of the nine goddesses of the arts. They are: CLIO(Klee'-Oh - History); EUTERPE (Yoo-Tair'-Pee - Flute playing); THALEIA (Thal'-Ee-Ah - Comedy); MELPOMENE (Mel-Poh'-Men-Ee - Tragedy); TERPISCHORE (Terp-Sih-Kor'-Ee - Dancing and Lyric poetry); ERATO (Air-At'-Oh - Love poetry); POLYHYMNIA (Poly-Heem'-Nee-Ah - Mime); >URANIA (Yoo-Rahn'-Ee-Ah - Astronomy); CALLIOPE (Kahl-Ee-Oh'-Pee - Epic poetry).

NEMESIS (Neh'-Meh-Sis; Female): Goddess of destiny, ruler of the inevitable, patroness of acceptance. Initially thought of as a harsh force of opposition, she was later softened into a righteous anger against those who would dare break cultural taboos. A good name for a strong, unassuming cat, filled with stoic resiliency...whatever that means.

NIKE (Nye'-Kee; Female): This famous goddess is better known as "winged victory." As well known as she was, nothing could erase the fact that Nike was an incredibly dull goddess. Today she is best known for having a shoe named after her. Name your cat this if: A) you are thinking about entering her in the Olympics, B) she has wings, C) she is dull, or D) she smells like a shoe.

PAN (Pan; Male): If you've spent any time at all around cats then I'm sure you've noticed that the little creatures have extremely sensitive nerves and tend to become startled very easily. Often, the slightest noise can send them into a mad blur of flight. For this we can thank the god Pan who, according to the Greeks, was responsible for the irrational terror that fills all animals (not just cats) and humans alike. In fact we call it Panic in recognition of this weird god's twisted sense of humor. Pan was also the god of male sexuality which was made abundantly clear by portraying him with the features of a goat (well known for their fertility), from the waist on down. Choose this name for an extremely nervous cat or for an extremely horny cat.

PERSEPHONE (Per-Seh'-Foe-Nee; Female): Wife of HADES and goddess of the Underworld, Persephone was also the daughter of DEMETER. Since she was invariably associated with death and the Underworld, she was said to hold the keys to both Tartarus and the Elysian Fields. Although she did have a brief crush on Adonis, she nevertheless remained true to her macabre husband, just as he remained faithful to her. You might think of Persephone and Hades as the Morticia and Gomez Adams of the Hellenic world. These names would be ideal for a feline couple, particularly if they possessed rather dark and creepy personalities.

PHOEBE (Fee'-Bee; Female): One of the Titans. About all there really is to say about her is that she was the mother of Leto, which makes her Apollo's grandmother. A pretty name for a radiant cat since her name means "to shine."

POSEIDON ( Poh-Sigh'-Don; Male): Brother of Zeus and Hades; god of the seas and oceans. He was something of a volatile god, far more moody than either of his brothers. This was partially due to his sibling jealousy of Zeus who was of course more powerful than Poseidon. The other gods quietly endured Poseidon's tantrums, even when they manifested in outrageously infantile displays of nit-picking like his continual arguments over who ruled the coastal areas. Never satisfied, he took perverse joy in the fact that little by little the seas and rivers were eroding the coastal lands anyhow. Because of this, you might consider naming your finicky cat after this persnickety god. Better still, if you happen to have one of those rare cats that actually enjoys being in the water, then Poseidon definitely is the name for him.

PROMETHEUS (Pro-Mee'-Thee-Us; Male ): One of Atlas's brothers. Prometheus is said to be the creator of the human race, forming the very first man by mixing together the elements earth and water along with his own tears. This upset Zeus so much that he decided he would keep this new creature in ignorance and darkness by refusing them the tool of fire. Quite fond of his new creation, Prometheus stole the fire from the forge of HEPHAESTUS, and delivered it to the humans. Some stories say that for this transgression Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock, whereupon a vulture tore out his liver. That night, the liver grew back, only to be torn out again the next day. Day after day this cycle repeated itself, on and on for all eternity. So far as names go, Prometheus would custom fit any cat with a wildly rebellious disposition.

RHEA (Ray'-Ah; Female): Before Hera became the number one, great goddess of heaven, there was Rhea; Titan wife of Cronus and original Mother goddess. As a matter of fact, she was the mother of Hera and of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, and Demeter as well. Obviously a most important goddess. Like Ilythia, the name Rhea might suit a busy mother cat who has had more than her share of kittens.

SELENE (Sell-Ee'-Nee; Female): Considered another Moon goddess, or rather, the goddess of the Moon in its second aspect (Full Moon, The Matron, or lover/bride). Artemis was considered the first aspect (New Moon, the Virgin), while Hecate represented the third and final aspect (Dark Moon, The Crone). Given the relationship between these three goddesses, you may want to include them along with the other triads should you be thinking about naming a trio of cats.

THANATOS (Than'-Ah-Tohs; Male): Brother of Hypnos. This god was death. Whereas Hades was the mighty ruler of the Underworld and of the dead, Thanatos was the one usually sent out to do the dirty work. He was "just a messenger-boy"; the personification of death itself, precursor to that hooded stock-character we all know and love from Ingmar Bergman films. A black cat name, of course.

URANUS (Yur'-In-Ess; Male): was the original god of the sky, or more accurately, the god that was the sky. He was both son and husband to the earth goddess GAIA. Together they brought forth the race of loathsome giants known as The Titans, the ruling deities prior to the Olympians. Now, Uranus decided that he didn't like his ugly kids, so he locked them away where he wouldn't have to look at them. Gaia, understandably offended by her son/husband's cruel treatment of their children, and figuring that she was pretty much sick of him anyway, managed to sneak a sharpened sickle to her son Cronus with instructions to "take care of daddy." Cronus was very ambitious and wasted no time carrying out Mom's orders. Suffice it to say that this name would be excellent for a male cat that's been...well, you know...fixed.

ZEUS (Zyoos; Male): And last but certainly not least, we come to the king of all the gods. Notice that Zeus seems to be connected in some way to nearly every entry in this section. Idealized as the very model of the practical ruler, Zeus was nevertheless a tyrant. Considered the omnipotent god of law, justice, and strength, he was also thought of as the god of thunder, lightening, mountain tops, the heavens, abundance, health, and many other auspicious qualities. Sacred to him was the oak tree, for it reflected his steadfast power and might. As everyone knows, Zeus was something of a philanderer. Always cheating on his ever suspicious wife, Hera, Zeus and his many lovers were responsible for several gods, demigods, heroes, and villains. This supreme god of gods was worshipped throughout the Greek world, and his influence spread to every culture of antiquity. Such a name as Zeus must surely be reserved for only the most lordly and magnanimous of cats, but since every cat is lord of their own personal domain, I suppose the name would be appropriate for any and all well loved cats.

No comments: