If Phoebe and Daphne are on the rise, why not this equally phabulous choice?
Thanks to Mia and Nescharia for suggesting Phaedra as Name of the Day.
The names share more than a ph. All three can be found in Greek myth. Just like many a tale, Phaedra’s story sounds like something borrowed from Jerry Springer. Girl meets boy, girls marries boy, girl meets boy’s stepson …
Or so the story goes. Phaedra married the hero Theseus, and while they had a family together their happily-ever-after wasn’t quite what one would hope. Because when Phaedra met Theseus’ son Hippolytus, she fell head over heels.
Some blame Aphrodite for meddling. Either way, the virtuous Hippolytus turned down his stepmom’s advances. A devastated Phaedra committed suicide, but only after leaving a note blaming Hippolytus for some very unchivalrous behavior. Theseus read the note, believed his wife and ordered the death of his own son.
She’s not exactly a role model for your darling daughter.
Still there’s much to admire in the name. The Greek phaidros means bright, lending Phaedra a straightforward and attractive meaning. (And making Phaidra an equally valid spelling, though far less common than the already rare Phaedra.) If you choose the FAY drah pronunciation, she picks up the popular “ay” sound of Kate and Faith. Should you stick with FYE drah or FEE drah, she lines up nicely with fashionable choices like Fiona and Felicity.
There’s something undeniably creative about Phaedra, too. She’s oft-depicted in art. Her story has inspired writers from Euripides to Racine to Marina Tsvetaeva to Frank McGuiness. Factor in music and she’s inspired at least four operas.
All this lends her an international appeal, too. In French, she’s Phèdre. In Italian and Spanish, Fedra. She’s not exactly a household name, but she won’t be unknown anywhere in Europe.
Then came Nancy Sinatra. In the 1960s, she collaborated with Lee Hazelwood on a trippy cowboy duet called “Some Velvet Morning.”
Flowers are the things we knew
Secrets are the things we grew
Learn from us very much
Look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name
She slants Phaedra away from the tragic myth and towards the mysterious possibility. (And uses the FAY drah pronunciation.)
And get this – Lee Hazelwood’s granddaughter? Her name is Phaedra.
Phaedra has never appeared in the US Top 1000. And while her sound is simple, her spelling might be just a bit tricky for those who don’t recognize this one.
Still, if you’re looking for a sophisticated name that can be considered an underused gem, Phaedra is certainly one to consider.