It is definitely an emerging trend – ends-in-us names for boys. While none have cracked the Top 100 in the US, they’re definitely hot – think about Atticus, Ignatius, Phinneaus, Tiberius, Julius, Augustus. The names have a softer sound than Jason and Aiden, but their classical origins give them an undeniable strength and durability.
Emmy Jo suggested a rather obscure member of this fraternity for today’s Name of the Day: Marius.
This ancient name has disputed roots, but most believe it is derived from the same root as Mars, the Roman god of war. Since the first notable bearer of the name was Gaius Marius, a Roman general credited with many military reforms, it’s not surprising that the association has stuck. Other possibilities are a tie to the word for the sea (mar) or perhaps simply the word for masculine (maris).
In any case, from Gaius Marius’ appearance a century before Christ, right up to today’s very modern Norwegian royal family, Marius is found occasionally in the historic record, though it has not appeared in the Top 1000 in the US since the 19th century. In Scandinavia, however, it remains quite popular.
The Italian and Spanish version of the name, Mario, is a perpetual favorite in Europe and South America and has ranked in the Top 200 in the US since 1965. While we love the ends-in-o vibe, for most children of the 80s, Mario is the mustachioed video game hero of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Interestingly, Mario’s popularity is attributed to a later-attached meaning: it is considered the masculine version of Mary or Maria. If you’re under pressure to carry on Mario as a family name, using Marius instead might sidestep your memories of Donkey Kong without flouting tradition.
Beyond the Ancient Roman notables, Marius has been worn by Galileo’s German rival, the astronomer Simon Marius; 20th century theologian and Harvard professor Richard Marius; composer Marius Constant, who brought us the Twilight Zone theme song; a handful of actors, dancers, politicians and writers, and Marius Borg Høiby, the firstborn son of the current crown princess of Norway. While the last Marius is not officially a prince, we rather imagine being stepgrandson of the king has some perks.
But the Marius that likely inspires many a modern parent is fictional: Marius Pontmercy of Victor Hugo’s – and Broadway’s – Les Misérables. The grandson of a wealthy aristocrat, Marius nonetheless becomes a flag-waving revolutionary. He also falls for Cosette, daughter of the story’s hero, Jean Valjean. The two eventually marry, and after the machinations required by a novel, including Valjean saving Marius’ life, they live happily ever after.
If you grew up with Super Mario, you also came of age with Les Mis and posters of the young Cosette. But Marius remains the kind of reference that takes a minute or two to recall, and so is appealingly literary.
And so if you’ve turned your attention to the cluster of engaging monikers that end in -us, we suggest that Marius is one of their number well worth consideration.