In 40 B.C., Cleopatra VII (ruler of Egypt) and Mark Antony (co-ruler of the Roman Republic) welcomed fraternal twins, a boy and a girl.
The twins were named Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios — selene and helios being the Ancient Greek words for “moon” and “sun,” respectively — though their second names may not have been bestowed until they were around three, when they met their father for the first time (and he officially recognized them as his own).
Her surname (“the Moon”) — and that of her twin brother Alexander Helios (“the Sun”) — represents prophetic and allegorical concepts of the era in which she was born as well as her parents’ ambitious plans to create a new world order.
Both Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide in 30 B.C. We don’t know what became of Alexander Helios after this, but Cleopatra Selene married Juba II of Mauretania and thereby became the queen of Mauretania until her death (circa 5 B.C.) — which, ironically, may have occurred right around the time of a lunar eclipse.
On August 21, the United States will see its first coast-to-coast solar eclipse since 1918. If you’re planning to have (or conceive!) a baby around the time of the eclipse, you might be interested in a name that marks the event (but that perhaps isn’t as obvious as Eclipse itself).
So what are your options?
Names with “celestial” associations
A solar eclipse involves the alignment of three celestial bodies — the sun (a star), the moon, and the Earth — in the sky. You could use a name that is associated in some way with one of these elements, such as…
The main event, from an Earthling’s perspective, is the darkening of the sun thanks to the moon getting in the way and casting its shadow over us. You could use a name associated in some way with darkness, such as…
I think Blake and Sullivan are particularly intriguing choices.
The English surname Blake can come from either of two similar Middle English words that happen to have opposite definitions: blac, meaning “black,” or blac, meaning “wan, pale, white, fair.” So it manages to encapsulate the concepts of both darkness and lightness — two key elements of an eclipse.
And the Irish surname Sullivan, “descendant of Súileabhán,” is based on the Gaelic personal name Súileabhán, meaning “little dark eye” — which sounds a lot like a poetic description of an eclipse.
Name combos with both “celestial” and “dark” associations
You could combine some of the “celestial” and “dark” names above to get something more specific, like…
Layla Soleil: “night” and “sun”
Jett Samson: “black” and “sun”
Ciaran Sol: “black” and “sun”
Melanie Stella: “dark” and “star” (“Dark Star” is also a Grateful Dead song)
Luna Zillah: “moon” and “shadow” (“Moon Shadow” is also a Cat Stevens song)
Names (or name combos) featuring the letters “S” and “E”
This is as inconspicuous as it gets. Commemorate the solar eclipse simply by using the letters “S” and “E” in combination. You could choose a single name that starts with “Se-,” like…
Sela Selene (“moon” in Greek) Selma Seraphina Seren (“star” in Welsh) Serenity
Sean Sebastian Sefton Sergio Seth Severino
Or, you could use a pair of names that start with “S-” and “E-,” such as…
Sabrina Eden Sydney Elise Sarah Evangeline Susanna Elizabeth
Simon Elijah Spencer Ellis Shane Everett Samuel Edward
Which of the above names (or combos) do you like most? What other solar eclipse-themed ideas would you add to this list?
Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.