Names

One of the overarching themes of Phantasia – which is far more apparent now than it was before – is the power, and meaning, of names. Naming characters is a pretty long-winded process at times, since I’m not the sort of writer who can just make something up.

” …you must understand that names have power. A name gives you influence. A name shatters illusions. A name…is a bond of trust.”

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d delve into the meanings of some character names. For the sake of the uninitiated, I’ll be sticking to the main characters introduced in the first episode (or else we’ll be here all day), in order of appearance. I believe I’ve covered some (possibly all) of these before in the past, but never mind!

1) Dante Orpheus
I’m sure I’ve delved into this one many times before: named for the poet, Dante Alighieri, and the mythical figure Orpheus. Dante translates to ‘enduring’, while Orpheus…oh boy, where do we begin?! ‘Darkness’, ‘Night’, ‘Separation’, ‘Father-less’, also has connections to ‘Oracle’ and ‘Oracular’. And, if you want to bastardise classical Greek a little, you could even say it was a combination of ‘orphe‘ and ‘theos‘, ‘darkness’ and ‘god’ respectively. It is fair to say that Dante certainly ‘endures’ all of these things. I haven’t even touched upon the symbolic means of using ‘Dante’ and ‘Orpheus’ – but a read of their Wikipedia articles alone should provide plenty of fuel for those who love their speculation.

2) Emily Fomalhaut
And in contrast to the above, there’s very little symbolic about ‘Emily’, but ‘Fomalhaut’ is Arabic and means ‘Mouth of the Fish’. It’s a star in Pisces. There’s a reason for this, but spoilers.

3) Katrina Ritches
Katrina also has a fairly innocuous name: her favourite animal is the cat, and her family is fairly rich (owning, as they do, an estate-turned-orphanage). Actually, it goes a bit deeper than that: Katrina is derived from Katherine, which in turn is associated with the Greek ‘katharos’, meaning ‘pure’.

4) Joel Gibson
Joel’s an old character, dating back to the mid-nineties, when I half-named him for a similarly-ginger goth fellow I was friends with. When I recycled the character into Phantasia, I kept the name for old time’s sake. It turns out to be rather appropriate, though, since ‘Gibson’ is a rather famous guitar manufacturer, and Joel is rather fond of his guitar! ‘Joel’ itself has no meaning. I guess it’s kind of generic? He’s a pretty down-to-earth guy. When he doesn’t think he’s a rock star.

5) Byron d’Arcadie
I’m presuming people know who Lord Byron is. You may also have heard of the ‘Byronic Hero’, so what better name for a poetic anti-hero? Meanwhile, d’Arcadie means ‘from Arcadia‘, or to look at it another way, ‘from Utopia’. Pretty self-explanatory, methinks.

6) Kaori Shimomura
Like her boyfriend Joel, Kaori is something of a legacy character from my work in the nineties, when I thought giving a character a random Japanese name was cool. I kept it, because it meant I could name her after Yoko Shimomura to balance out all these highbrow literary references like ‘Dante’ and ‘Byron’ with a terribly uncultured video game one (and because Kaori is herself a musician). Also, thanks to the Japanese language having some scary depths of hidden meanings, ‘Kaori’ can mean ‘excellent/beautiful weaver’. Given that Kaori’s primary artistic pursuit is fashion design, this seems appropriate.

Bonus Number Seven) Phantasia Caelestis
Are you ready? ‘Phantasia’ is Latin for ‘fantasy’, ‘idea’, and ‘imagination’, as well as ‘phantom’ and ‘apparition’. It comes from the Greek ‘phantazo’, which means ‘make visible’, which itself comes from ‘phaino’, which translate as ‘to shine’, ‘give light’, and ‘to appear’. Note also ‘fantasia’, which refers to a style of musical composition that is considered ‘irregular’ and not fitting in with excepted structures/standards. ‘Caelestis’ (I changed it from ‘Celeste’ for consistency’s sake, but they mean the same thing) is Latin for ‘heaven’ or ‘sky’. It can also mean ‘of the heavens’, ‘divine’ or ‘god-like’. You can put the pieces together. You might also note how the name in general stands in opposition to Dante’s: his is about enduring darkness, Phantasia’s is all about light and sudden appearances.

It scares me how much of my life I have possibly wasted trying to name characters. It also scares me how much time I’ve spent writing this post…

Posted on January 30, 2013, in Phantasia, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
    This is the sort of thing I love reading.
    When naming characters, I usually just go for "this fits". Or, if I feel like trolling one of my characters, I deliberately make ridiculously coincidental names, then decide if I should justify it or not.
    Honestly, I care little for symbolism, although probably more than I admit, but I love this from a design perspective.

    • I would pick random names in the past, but I’ve grown to love choosing more meaningful ones. I think they provide a stronger sense of identity.

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