Friday, July 15, 2011


Readers, rejoice! For for the rest of the month, I will be profiling nothing but Harry Potter names. Why? Because it's the end of an era. I might actually start weeping at the end credits of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I won't be doing all the names from Harry Potter because oh my Gods there's a lot of them, but these are the ones that have caught my attention. Let's start with the awesome, strong, bookish heroine: Hermione!

J.K. Rowling has stated that Hermione Granger is an exaggeration of herself when she was a child, and recalls being a little "know-it-all" when she was the character's age. A girl after my own heart, she carries every book she owns wherever she goes. However, behind Hermione's snootiness is an insecurity and fear of failure. She is repeatedly told that she is the "brightest young witch of her generation," and yet she also encounters discrimination due to her status as a "Mudblood." This is an example of what the books are really about. They don't really have anything to do with Witchcraft. They have to do with the importance of fighting bigotry and authoritarianism.

Hermione's name is derived from the Shakespeare play A Winter's Tale. Queen Hermione is the wife of King Leontes of Sicilia. King Leontes is best friends with King Polixenes, who is visiting Sicilia but wishes to turn home. Leontes asks his very pregnant wife to convince his friend to stay, which she does in three sentences. Leontes becomes deeply suspicious that she was able to convince him so easily and becomes convinced that the two are having an affair and that the baby is Polixenes'. He tries to poison Polixenes (this fails and he flees to his homeland) and arrests Hermione on charges of adultery. The baby is born, and Leontes arranges for it to be abandoned. Hermione faints at her trial and is said to have died, and Leontes finally becomes aware of his bad judgement. In the last act of the play when their daughter is grown up and reunited with her father, the two visit a statue of Hermione. The statue comes to life, and the family is reunited again.

But Hermione has a more ancient history than that. Hermione is derived from the Greek god Hermes, whose name possibly means "pile of stones." In Greek mythology, Hermione is the only daughter of King Menelaus and Helen, although the couple also had three sons. Little Hermione was nine years old when her mother ran off to be with the Prince of Troy. While her father took care of that problem, he promised Hermione's hand in marriage to Achillis' son Neoptolemus, even though she was already promised to her cousin Orestes. When she was married to Neoptolemus, she came into conflict with Neoptolemus' concubine and widow to Trojan prince Hector, Andromanche. Hermione blamed Andromanche for her infertility, believing that she was casting spells to keep her barren. She asked her father to kill Andromanche but he refused, so Hermione fleed from her husband so she could be with Orestes. I guess some things are genetic.

So, did the wildly successful books and movies inspire a slew of little girls named Hermione? Well, no. Not in the United States, anyway. First of all, there's the matter of pronunciation. Anyone who has watched the movies know that it's "her-MY-oh-ne." But people have trouble with it. I remember in one interview J.K. Rowling confessed that if she could write the books over again, she would have named the character Jane. Another tidbit (and if this is really true, I find her reasoning very odd) is that she wanted to give this character a name that not many real little girls would have because less children would be teased for sharing the name with her character. It's interesting to note that although she creates such interesting monikers for her books, in real life J.K. Rowling is a very conservative namer. Her children are Jessica, David and Mackenzie.

For the non-conservative Witchy namer, there is lots to love with Hermione. It has an oddball charm and great for someone who wants a girls name that is not very frilly. If you don't want a strong connection to the Harry Potter character (although I don't really understand why anyone wouldn't, she rocks my socks) there is also the variant Herminia, which peaked in the 1920s at #902. Can't you just picture your bookish little witchlet sharing this name?


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  1. I utterly love the name Hermione, even though it's hard to spell and say.

    Did you notice that just like in Shakespeare, Hermione gets turned into a statue in Book 2 by the Basilisk? Interesting that her name may mean "pile of stones" in that case!

  2. I sincerely doubt 'pile of stones' - this theory comes from the fact that a statue of Hermes (called a Herm) was placed at the front door of every Greek home and at other boundaries. Like Hecate, he is a God of boundaries, especially places where you cross from one sphere to another. But it is pure conjecture that his name arose from an ancient word for 'cairn' (i.e. 'pile of stones'). He is clearly a very, very ancient God, and the origin of his name is one I think we just have to accept is lost to time.

  3. I love this site even though I am christian I think there some names that Christians can use to.

  4. I love the name Hermione! If I ever have a daughter, I think I shall name her Hermione!


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