He’s an ancient ruler and a modern rocker.
Thanks to Fran and Annelise for suggesting Darius as our Baby Name of the Day.
In the Bible, Darius is the king who tosses Daniel into the lion’s den. But he’s not exactly a villain – more a victim of a plot engineered by Daniel’s rivals. Darius is so moved by Daniel’s miraculous survival that he issues a decree declaring the God of Daniel “the living God.” Daniel resumes his post as trusted adviser to the king, and they all live happily ever after.
A string of Persian kings wore the name Darius, but there’s much debate about which one appears in the Book of Daniel.
Darius I ruled in the fifth century BC, and it was a very busy reign, indeed. He adopted Aramaic as his empire’s official language, standardized the currency and administration, and invaded Greece. Two more Persian rulers wore the name. The second is fairly obscure. Darius III reigned in the fourth century BC, and is remembered mostly for losing his empire to Alexander the Great.
The name remained in use, however. Darius is the Latin version of a Greek name derived from the Persian Darayavahush. Modern versions of Darius are many, including:
- Dariush in Iranian
- Dariusz in Polish
- Dario in Italian
There’s a minor Saint Darius, too.
In other words, Darius is another one of those names that travels very well, but has a relatively limited history in English. He’s picked up steam in the twentieth century, and you might recognize a few, like:
- French composer Darius Milhaud;
- Retired Russian NHL star Darius Kasparaitis;
- Former NBA All-Rookie Darius Miles;
- In the NFL, Darius Reynaud plays for the Giants;
- Polish race car driver Darius Grala;
- Iranian singer Dariush Eghbali.
American history gives us a few figures, including Civil War general Darius Couch.
There’s also Darius McCrary, currently appearing on The Young and the Restless as Malcolm. You know him better as Eddie Winslow from long-running sitcom Family Matters.
Family Matters debuted on ABC in 1989. Darius had started his climb in the 1950s, entering the rankings, and climbing steadily over the decades. But 1989 was the year Darius entered the US Top 200. Like Dante, he found favor with African American families.
Darius had his moment in the sun back in the 1990s. He peaked at #150 in 1990 and 1991.
Three years later, Darius Rucker led Hootie and the Blowfish to the top of the pop charts with “Hold My Hand” and a string of equally catchy tunes. The Blowfish faded, but Rucker’s career as a solo artist has flourished. Get this, though: he’s crossed over to the country charts, where he’s scored a number of firsts for an African American musician.
At #334, Darius is fading today, but ancient names aren’t out of steam just yet. If Julius and Atticus still sound fresh and stylish, Darius could wear nicely, too – especially if you’re attracted to him as a cross-cultural option.