Today’s choice traces his origins to myth and legend. But for many parents, he brings to mind not the classics but the boxing ring.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Name of the Day: Hector.
Hector’s origins are appealing. From the Greek hektor, it means “holding.” The verb is ekhein, “to hold or possess.” Attributed meanings like “steadfast” or “determined” are reasonable interpretations. He first appears in the Iliad as the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Hector distinguishes himself in battle, but is killed by the Greek hero, Achilles.
In the early fourteenth century, Hector gained popular renown when Jacques de Longuyon named him one of the Nine Worthies. His collection (Pagan heros Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar; Jewish leaders Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeaus and Christian rulers King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon) was chosen to embody the ideals of chivalry. Jacques’ Nine found themselves the subject of many a tale and song, and so Hector would have been familiar.
A second Hector pops up in another set of legends – King Arthur’s foster father is called Sir Ector or Sir Hector. Add him in with the classical Hector, and it’s no surprise we find his name in occasional use throughout the Middle Ages.
Hector also received a boost as the favored Anglicization of Eachann, an unrelated Scottish name.
But in 20th century English use, Hector has a handicap. Sometime in the late 1600s, Hector the hero became a verb – in an ironic turnabout, to hector is to be the opposite of heroic – to bully.
References to both the hero and his opposite persist in pop culture. A troublesome truck bears the name in Thomas the Tank Engine; but a lesser-known DC Comics’ Justice League member is born Hector Hall. It’s equally appropriate for the villain and the hero.
Today the name is far more vibrant among Spanish speakers. He ranked in the Top 25 in Spain, Top 100 in Chile and in the US ranks #183 – but comes in higher in Arizona, California and Texas, states with large Latino populations.
Perhaps some of this is in homage to Héctor Comacho, a Puerto Rican lightweight boxing champ from the early 90s. While he’s not as storied or well-known as many a prizefighter, Comacho certainly kept the name visible. Actor Héctor Elizondo is another famous bearer of the name.
Like the similar Oscar, this one can be viewed as either a stylish literary moniker or a Hispanic heritage choice. Some parents tend to shy away from names strongly identified with an ethnic background other than their own. Then again, we rather doubt that all those little Aidans trace their families back to the Emerald Isle.
We like Hector’s ancient style, and while his double meaning concerns us, we think it’s certainly worthy of consideration.