Thanks to Urban Angel for suggesting Thisbe as Baby Name of the Day.
Thisbe rhymes with Frisbee, but think Ancient Roman, not college quad. Ovid included the sad story of Pyramus and Thisbe in his enduring Metamorphoses back in the year 8.
Even if the name isn’t familiar, their story should ring a bell. Pyramus and Thisbe come from rival families, and though they fall in love they’re forbidden to marry. The couple plans to elope, but a horrible misunderstanding occurs. Pyramus believes Thisbe has died. Distraught, he commits suicide. When Thisbe discovers her lover’s lifeless body, she takes her own life, too.
Their story is set in Babylon, not Verona, and involves a lioness instead of a potion, but surely Thisbe is the original Juliet.
Thisbe picks up a nature babe twist thanks to the mulberry tree – but beware, it’s a grisly one. The deep red color of the fruit honors the blood the couple spilled in the name of love.
Their tale was retold in Boccaccio’s Decameron as well as the writings of Chaucer. Shakespeare used it as a play-within-a-play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Adaptations faithful to Ovid’s version can be found for centuries, including several operatic versions. The best known is probably eighteenth century composer Johann Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe, but it’s not exactly Carmen.
Forbidden love is big no matter the era. Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo includes a similar plot, but his pair is Maximilien and Valentine and their tale ends with both lovers still among the living. Long-running musical The Fantastiks also includes a young couple separated by a wall, but they’re Matt and Luisa.
The origins of Thisbe’s name are lost to time. There was an ancient city northwest of Athens that wore the name. There’s also a region of Ancient Greece called Boeotia, and a nymph associated with the Boeotians may have been called Thisbe.
The name has never entered the US Top 1000, and odds are that introducing your daughter as Thisbe would earn you a few surprised looks.
Or maybe not.
Young adult novelist Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride was published in 2009. Dessen’s novels have already been adapted for the big screen, in 2003’s How to Deal, starring Mandy Moore.
Should Along for the Ride follow, a few unusual names could rise. There’s the central character, Auden Penelope; her love interest Eli; her friend, Esther; older brother Hollis; and baby half-sister, Thisbe Caroline. The baby answers to nickname Isby. Dessen also tends to revisit her characters from book to book, so an adventure highlighting Isby isn’t out of the question.
Of course, Isby is also a possible nickname for Isabella, and maybe a few other more mainstream choices.
But if you’re looking for a truly unusual choice, Thisbe has a certain quirky charm.