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.
I’m digging Marius. Is he any relation to Mauro, I wonder? I’m finding they have different roots.
As it turns out, there are TWO Mariuses on the current Romanian soccer team, Marius Popa and Marius Constantin Niculae. It must have been big there about 28 years ago. 🙂 I know this of course, because I was hunting for names and am with an avid soccer fan who turned me onto the European teams’ rosters– http://youcantcallitit.com/2008/06/18/roster-euro-football-2008/
It’s funny that we both happened upon this rarity at the same time. Perhaps your reader Emmy Jo is a soccer fan as well?
I agree that the -us names are poised for revival. It seems the most ripe of the recently uncharted territory. O-names still haven’t caught on here in large numbers, but across the pond they’re getting tiresome and I’m sure people are turning to -us en masse. My personal favorites are Lucius, Caius, and Cassius, though Cassius appears to have the unsettling meaning of “empty, vain.” Oh, well. Maybe on someone else’s kid.
Consider it done (the genie poll). 🙂 I love to see this kind of creative thinking, shows me who is truly “out of the box”.
And I agree, Martin’s jazzy cool on his own. If I had an Uncle Marty, I’d use Martin (too bad my other half hates him). I’d call him Tino.
I’m flummoxed by the pronunciation myself. I’ve long assumed it was MAR ee us, but besides the BtN reference, I also found MAHR yoos (at http://www.babynamesworld.com), plus a few references to MAR ee us.
I hit dead ends on this one, too, but my sense is that Mario is so common that MAR ee us is the pronunciation that would be favored – whether it is technically correct or not!
That’s a great point about Mark. I suppose it works for Martin, too, though I find Martin almost so geek that it’s chic.
While Googling Marius, I tripped across a baby name poll at http://www.babynamegenie.com debating Lestat or Marius for their son! I rather doubt that it’s true, but if they’re serious, I truly hope they go with Marius. (Here’s the link: http://www.babynamegenie.com/polls/50054) That way, you’d have someone to hug. 🙂
Marius is really cool. I also read the Vampire Chronicles and have loves the name ever since. -us names make me smile inside. My personal favourite is Julius, but all of them sound dignified and gentlemanly while being softer than the norm. I’ve always said it MAR-ee-us as well, and never even thought to check for an alternate pronunciation in the BtN database. I can’t imagine it being said any other way…
Funny this one should show up. He’s one of Anne Rice’s vampires. I’ve had a soft spot for him since reading “Interview”. Marius can also be used if the family name in question is Mark and you’re as bored by Mark as I am. Funny, BtN has MER-ee-us as the pronunciation. I’ve always sid MAR-ee-us and I’ve never been corrected. I wonder which is right?
Either way, I think I would hug the mother of a little Marius!