Adrasteia: Baby Name of the Day

Adrastea—the moon of Jupiter by Galileo

Adrastea—the moon of Jupiter by Galileo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Want a truly unusual way to get to Addie?

Thanks to KO for suggesting Adrasteia as our Baby Name of the Day.

In Greek myth, a legendary king of Argos answered to the name Adrestos.  Adrasteia – or Adrastia, Adrestia, Adrestea, Adrastea, and so on – are the feminine forms.

Several figures answered to the name:

  • Legend tells of a nymph who served as foster mother to Zeus, and helped hide him from his ravenous father Cronus.  Adrasteia’s sister was called Ida.  At Nemea, a temple dedicated to Zeus contained a spring called Adrasteia in her honor.
  • The goddess Nemesis was sometimes called Adrasteia, too.  Nemesis was charged with punishing those who transgressed against the gods.  This points to one of the possible meanings for Adrasteia – inescapable.
  • At other times, the name was applied to an independent goddess, a daughter of Ares, known for heading into war by her father’s side.

She’s lived on in a number of celestial references:

  • Adrastea is the smallest of the four inner moons of Jupiter, discovered in 1979.  (There are a total of 66 moons as of the most recent count.)  The name is a reference to the mythological nursemaid of Zeus.
  • There’s also an asteroid by the same name.

By now you’re probably wondering how to pronounce it.  In modern American English, I think you’d almost certainly hear ad-ra-STAY-uh, though I believe a-DRAS-tee-uh or a-dras-TEE-uh is more faithful to the correct pronunciation.

She’s a mouthful of a name, but if we can consider Alexandria and Henrietta, why not Adrasteia?  Think about the most popular names of the moment:  Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, Samantha, Victoria, Amelia, Gabriella, Savannah, Brianna, Aaliyah.  Elaborate, ends-in-a names for girls are stylish.  Many parents have embraced the formal name, too, using all three syllables or more instead of shortening them to Bella and Livvy and Vicky.  For every Gabby, there’s a Gabriella, full name only please, thanks very much.

Even if you accept that Adrasteia is no more outlandish than Anastasia, there is one simple fact: unlike most mythological monikers, Adrasteia has almost never been worn in real life.  Census records turn up one Adrasteia and I’ve yet to find an Adrastea.

If you’re set on a name that your child will never share, this makes her an ideal candidate.  Nicknames – from Addie to Dree to Tea are easy to come by.  If you want something with Henrietta’s clunky cool and serious Greek mythological roots, Adrasteia might be one to consider.

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4 Comments

Adrasteia gives me a headache spelling her out. She’d surely be shortened by me! I adore Henrietta (and have since I was 2 watching “The New Review” as a tot). I’d happily use Henrietta up front, but Andrasteia? I’m not *that* brave. 😀

I love Adrasteia (and Nemesis for that matter) for the meaning–devine retribution as a form of justice. I love the ancient tendency to personalize philosphical ideas into gods and monsters. Thanks Abby!

I’m a sucker for Greek mythological names, but something about this one gives me a headache. I think it it’s the rah sound immediately followed by st. Can’t seem to wrap my tongue around it. I’m not a huge fan of the cluster of vowels at the end, either. It definitely would be interesting to meet an Adrasteia.