Thebe: Baby Name of the Day

Landelle's A Woman of Thebes bw

Th is a neglected sound, out of fashion in 2013.  Otherwise, this name could be as popular as Chloe.

Thanks to Ette for suggesting Thebe as our Baby Name of the Day.

Th may not be fashionable at the moment, but there are plenty of great names that begin with Th, and even more that end with the th sound.

She fits with our affection for Greek, ends with e names for girls.  There’s Chloe and Zoe and Phoebe and Penelope, plus plenty of others that aren’t as well known.

Thebe is one of the rarest among them, missing from most baby name guides, but very much present in Greek mythology, including:

  • A daughter of Prometheus, often said to be the origin of the Greek Thebes.
  • A water nymph, daughter of the river god Asopos.  She’s also credited with being the source of the name of the Thebes in central Greece.
  • Zeus and Iodame had a daughter named Thebe in some accounts.
  • She appears on a few other family trees – a daughter-in-law of Cybele, a wife of Heracles.

There’s Thebes, the city in Greece, and a second city by the same name in Egypt.  The illustration by French artist Charles Landelle isn’t one of the mythological women.  Instead, she’s just “A Woman of Thebes.”  I’m not sure which one.

The place in ancient Egypt was quite a metropolis.  You know it better as Luxor, an open-air collection of wonders of the world.  Once the capital city of the New Kingdom, it was built in homage to the god Amon-Ra, just across the Nile from the Valley of the Kings.  Luxor remains a destination for tourists.

The Greek city is more remote, located in the central part of the country.  But it, too, is ancient, and the city once rivaled Athens for power and glory.  Oedipus was from Thebes.  Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes ends the story of Oedipus’ curse with the death of his two sons.  Sophocles’ Antigone picks up the story.  It’s a backdrop for history and literature alike.

This name also has a place in the heavens, thanks to one of Jupiter’s moons.  Discovered in 1979, it was named after the nymph.  There’s also the Thebe Gossamer Ring, a collection of moon dust also circling the planet.

All together, Thebe is a daring rarity.  It’s not on the table as an option.  If you did choose the name, it would almost certainly be misheard as a lisping mispronunciation of Phoebe.

And yet there’s no real reason why you couldn’t consider Thebe.  (Or Thisbe or any of the great names from Greek myth.)  For all that she’s not on trend, with her ties to the heavens and the ancient world, and her ends-with-e sound, she’s not too far off, either.  She’s never been given to more than five children born in a single year, but there definitely have been women to wear the name over the years.

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4 Comments

Thanks for this!

Love the look and history of Thebe, but I agree that it would forever be misheard as the equally lovely but less daring Phoebe. Probably better suited for a character in a book than a child for that reason.

I like Thebe. It’s one of those names you’s expect to see on heroines of Victorian novels, but it would fit in fine a class full of Phoebes, Zoes and Chloes.

Another Greek name I love, but which doesn’t get the attention it deserves is Niobe.