Saturday, April 9, 2011

G is for Guinevere

When my parents were choosing names, they debated between Cassiopia (for the space-prostitute-turned-nurse from Battlestar Galactica) and Guinevere, of Arthurian legend.

Neither of these are popular baby names in the U.S.

Mythologically speaking, Cassiopia was the braggart queen that claimed to be prettier than Posiedon's sea nymphs. Because Poseidon was, apparently, a psycho, this resulted in him unleashing a monster on the coast of her country. Cassiopia and her husband chained their daughter Andromeda to a rock as an offering to quell the beast. Luckily, Andromeda was rescued by a convenient hero, Perseus.  Happy ending! Your parents didn't get you killed!

So that story sort of sucks. However, according to the baby name sites, the name means "She whose words excel" (judging from the story, her words excel at starting trouble), so I do like that.

Guinevere, of course, was a great queen in Arthurian legend right up until she cheated on Arthur with Lancelot and caused the downfall of Camelot (Of course - woman-blaming is fun!). The name is translated alternately as meaning "White spirit" or "White wave" or a combination of white and smooth. I was fated by my name to be this damn pale.

The name's generally considered to be rooted in Welsh, but I've also read some argument that Guinevere historically speaking was likely French.

In the end, my parents went with Guinevere.  When I was a kid, I was the only Guinevere I knew. I was obsessed with Arthurian legend (yes, along with the forensic pathology. I was... well-rounded?). I didn't like my name as a child, though. It was so weird, and seriously, I was already weird enough.  I didn't mind when people butchered it and called me "Jen" instead (which is derived from Guinevere).

I grew into my name, though. It helped that I got to leave my childhood home, where it seemed everyone was named Crystal or Jessica. And I married a man with a very English last name which sounds lovely with Guinevere, than my rather ethnic maiden name (which was something akin to Polishlongnameoffski). And that I just plain grew up, and being different - in any way - no longer seems like the little disaster it is at eleven.

In other words, good news, Mom: I've abandoned my childhood plans to change my name to Jane!


Eliza said...

It must have been a hard name to carry as a child, but great to be different as an adult :-)

Libby said...

That is an awesome name. My parents named me after my grandparents. They had boring names so I had to rename myself...

Summer Frey said...

From a Cherokee Summer to a Guinevere--I feel you.

KarenG said...

I like your name! It's so original and imaginative. And I'm glad you never shortened it to Gwen.

Hannah Kincade said...

I love your name. It's very romantic. Do people ever call you Guin??

Beckah-Rah said...

I love unusual names. For girls, anyway. Unusual names for boys are liable to get their butts kicked all through grade school, and (hopefulyl) nobody wants that. My husband has agreed that if we ever decide to have kids, and one's a girl, we're going to name her Cadence Galatea.

Old Kitty said...

Thank goodness you're Guinevere!! Much as I think Cassiopia is just as gorgeously mythological - you are more a Guinevere!!! Yes you are!! Never Jane or Jen! Guinevere!!

yay!! Take care

The Writing Goddess said...

Reading (and ejoying) Mercedes Lackey's Gwenwhyfar: The White Spirit right now (well, when not blogging/reading blogs.) Have actually been spending much time in Camelot in recent weeks, and Guinevere comes across, depending on the author, as either a total twit, or a fabulous, powerful woman. I think it's kind of cool you can choose who to be.