He’s an original wild child, a heroic half-werewolf and a storyteller of the American South, but rarely is his name used for a real boy.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: the truly unusual Remus.
While the origins of Remus’ name are lost to time, his story is well known. He and his twin brother, Romulus, were the sons of the god Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. Because the boys were considered a threat to their grandfather’s throne – and because their mother was supposed to be a virginal priestess – they were packed into a basket and set adrift in a river. The gods conspired with a she-wolf, or possibly a wolf goddess, to save the children.
Despite being raised by wolves, the boys turned out quite well and as adults, set out to establish a new city. When a disagreement arose, Romulus off’d his brother. It’s why we visit Rome and not Reme.
Perhaps his status as also-ran explains Remus’ lack of popularity. Or maybe the naming conventions of Ancient Rome never incorporated him. Remus endured in myth, and was sometimes used, probably by parents seeking a classical moniker. (Remember that late 19th century favorites Homer, Horace and Virgil were all inspired by antiquity.)
Speaking of the 19th century, that’s where we find our second famous Remus. This time, he’s a fictional character created by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris was white; his creation was a storyteller – and a former slave. Today some consider the stories offensive, with their Deep South dialect and use of “uncle,” considered a derogatory nickname for black men. It’s a tricky issue, but perhaps the stories – and their author – are best considered a product of their time. The tales endure in popular culture, if only because most of us will eventually ride Splash Mountain at Disney World – an attraction built around Uncle Remus’ story of Br’er Rabbit and the Briar Patch.
Remus had two strikes against him, but then came the third installment of the Harry Potter series.
In 1999, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduced Remus Lupin to the wizarding world. Part-werewolf, his first name brings to mind the name’s original bearer. Without revealing plot twists, Remus is clearly one of the good guys.
While we’re on the subject of science fiction, Star Trek aficionados might know the planet Remus is part of the Romulan star system. Inhabitants are known as Remans and live under the thumb of the Romulans.
Neither Remus nor Romulus appear in the US Top 1000. Roman, however, is quite the popular choice these days. He currently ranks #207, helped perhaps by starbaby Roman Robert, son of Cate Blanchett and maybe Days of Our Lives character Roman Brady. Roman is also popular in Eastern Europe, where he’s enjoyed a long history of use.
While there’s no direct link between Rémy – the French saint’s name – and Remus, we still think Remy works as a nickname option.
The name is certainly unusual, but hey, Atticus is back. With a simple pronunciation, a popular hero to make the name familiar and a certain Ancient World chic, we think Remus has some real possibilities in the 21st century.