Friday, November 1, 2013


Blessed Samhain! I have promised you post today and a post you shall have!

Pluto (pronounced "PLOO-toh") is the Latinized form of the Greek Plouton, meaning "wealth." I found it very interesting that a god of the Underworld would have a name meaning "wealth." This is because all forms of mineral wealth (gems and metals) are found underground, as are the seeds that give us food. Plouton was one of several names for the Greek god Hades, and there is a curious change of personality in the deity depending on which name is used. Hades is almost always portrayed unsympathetically, but Plouton/Pluto is a lot nicer. According to historical records many people preferred Pluto because he was less fear provoking. This is evidenced by the fact that there are a lot more temple's to Pluto than to Hades.

In Roman mythology, Pluto is the brother of Jupiter, Neptune, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta. Pluto's main job is to rule the Underworld and take care of all the dead people, but he was also associated with agricultural wealth and by extension fertility. The best known myth regarding Pluto/Hades involves his wife, Persephone. Hades was viewed as the violent abductor of Persephone, but Pluto treats her more as an equal. The other story that mentions him is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Some retellings suggest that it was Pluto's love for his wife that made him especially sympathetic to the pain of parted lovers.

It's interesting to note that while most of the other gods sowed their wild oats with any living and nonliving entity, Pluto was a monogamist. He was completely devoted to Persephone. This is probably why there are not many mentions of him ever having children. If you look through ancient sources there are some scattered passages that vaguely suggest that the King and Queen of the Underworld procreated, but there are almost no names given.

I listed this as unisex because there is another mythical character with this name. She's a nymph who is sometimes listed as Plouto. She's one of the 3,000 Oceanids. She doesn't do much in mythology, but she had a child who does. Zeus had his way with her and she gave birth to Tantalus. Tantalus is interesting because he is known for being eternally punished in the Underworld for stealing the secrets of the gods.

Of course, I can't mention this name without also mentioning the not-a-planet-anymore Pluto. In 1930, this discovery was met with a lot of excitement. The Lowell Observatory received over 1,000 suggestions of names for the ninth planet from the sun. They picked Pluto, which was cooked up by an 11-year-old English child named Venetia Burney. This new planet was so popular that it had an element named after it (plutonium) and a Disney cartoon character. In 2006 it was determined that Pluto could not be a planet because it's too small. And most of it is ice. So it's a dwarf planet instead.

I think it's a shame that Pluto is not often used as a given name. I can reluctantly see why this is. It's current status notwithstanding, not many people name their children after planets. But I think most people are put off because of the cartoon dog, which is funny considering Sebastian is so popular nowadays. After reading all the history, I have to say that I've fallen in love with Pluto.


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