Atlas: Behind Anne Heche's Name Choice

03/12/2009 at 07:00 PM ET
Fred Hayes/WireImage

With many readers expressing their opinions on Anne Heche and James Tupper‘s choice of Atlas for their first child together, we spoke to Linda Rosenkrantz, co-owner of NameBerry, as well as co-author of The Baby Name Bible: The Ultimate Guide By America’s Baby-Naming Experts to get her take on the moniker and the popularity of mythological names.

“With Anne Heche naming her son Atlas so soon after Erykah Badu called her baby girl Mars, it’s beginning to look like a mini-trend developing! Some celebrity parents suddenly seem to be making little gods and goddesses — instant objects of worship — of their infants right from day one. Names that were previously considered too powerful for a mortal baby to carry (after all, Atlas was the Titan who bore the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, and Mars was the Roman god of war) now seem to have descended from Mt. Olympus into the realm of human possibility.

And Atlas and Mars aren’t the only mythic starbabies. Chris Noth has a son called Orion, Metallica’s James Hetfield is father to Castor, and Kelly Rutherford‘s son is Hermés — messenger of the gods — as well as a modern fashion icon. Constance Marie just named her daughter Luna, Coldplay’s Will Champion called one of his twins Juno, and Patricia Arquette bestowed Calliope upon daughter Harlow as a middle name. Some other goddess and muse names in the air: Aurora, Clio, Maia and Venus.”

What do you think of mythological names? Would/did you use one for your child?

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jessie on

some mythological names are okay, but i couldn’t see myself naming a kid zeus or hercules, etc..lol

Aelys on

I suppose it depends which country you’re from/live in. Mythological names, like Athena, Aris (the Greek equivalent to Mars), Daphne or Artemis for instance, are still pretty common in Greece and when you hear the names pronounced in Greek, it’s no so shocking. I’m more surprised by names like Audio Science or Moon Unit than by a mythological name.

Momma2Leos on

I love mythological names. We are thinking of using Aurora. We know that our middle name will be a goddess(should we ever have a daughter, but I am not saying so there will be no stealingLOL). For our last child we were going to name him Janus(Jay-nus) but the family was so negative that it didn’t happen. If he was a girl we were going with Gaia(Guy-a). And Atlas goes with Homer(The Odyssey, The Iliad).

Sarah on

I’m not a big fan of mythological names, I think they sound too ‘pretentious’, for the most part.

Alice on

I really want to use names like that! Gaia, Aurora, Orion and Thor I love as well as the other muses, like Melpomene and Thalia. Persephone is lovely as well. So yes, lol I would!

Philippa on

I love mythological names. Some of them are really beautiful, but some of them are a bit too far out. For instance, Jessie mentioned the names Zeus and Hercules, those are a bit much for a child. But names like Juno, Hera, Athena etc are really quite beautiful!

Irish on

I love names like these. I like Atlas and Hermes. I always liked the name Calypso (the daughter of Atlas). I also like Hermione, Penelope, Persephone, Andromeda. I would never name my kids these names unless I was a celeb who could get away with it. I would name my dogs these names tho lol.

I also like Odessa, Ophelia, Sophocles..they are very inspirational. Might not feel too good as a child being raised with a name like that, but at least they will always be remembered and talked about in years to come. They arent just Justin #4 who sits in the fourth row, at school.

Althea on

You know, as Aelys said most mythological names are pretty common in Greece. Some are not used though for some reason, I don’t know why. You’d almost never hear a Zeus and definitely not a Maia, well only if you are in the L&D area of a hospital since it literally means midwife! It’s used as a noun! I know she was Herme’s mother in mythology but I was so baffled when I read it in the article.

Jazz on

I love, love, love the name Andromeda. I don’t think I could do it for a first name but definitely a middle name. I also love Cassandra, Cassiopeia, Artemis, and Persephone. With the exception of Cassandra and Cassiopeia, I think I’d use them as middle names though.

Clair on

I love the names Ptolemy and Artemis… and I love Anne and her husbands choice of Atlas. I’ve had pets with ancient Greek names and mythological names before including Hephaistion and Bucephalus – don’t think i’d ever use those ones as names for children but some mythological names are beautiful.

Janey on

I have a mythological named( Electra) and I like them..but some of them are too stand-outish for me..like naming my son Agamemnon or Apollo is not an option..and I think some of those names are two obvious as well. Like anyone with basic understanding of greek history would have heard..apollo, zeus, Hera…I like the sound of Ptolemy but I can’t hear the name without thinking of the Xenophobic and Ancient bigotry history behind it.

Lou on

i love some of them, particularly Aurora! though i’d go for it as a middle name…

being a foo fan, i have so get some sort of tribute in there somewhere without it being obvious! xx

Ratty on

I LOVE mythological names, and have a long list of mythological names I plan to use for my children. I see quite a few of them in other comments above, and freaked out a little that there were other people out there who were fond of them too (like that should be such a big surprise!). Am pleased to see that there are people thinking outside the square. I get of hearing every second kid called Ella and Jack (here in Australia – top girl and boy names). They’re both nice names, just tiring when so common (I know one family where one brother named his daughter Ella and the other named his Isabella – crazy!)

Katey on

I’m a Classicist, so I LOVE LOVE LOVE all these Classical/Mythological names! 🙂 I don’t know if I would choose an obvious name like Atlas (I’m too chicken), but I do like Sabina (for the Sabine women) or Antony (Mark Antony) or Helen (of Troy). So, probably no Odysseus or Diomedes for me unless I marry a like-minded man.

Mrs. R. on

And of course Seraphina, one of God’s groups of angels, for the new little Miss Affleck.

It’s not our choice to name our child celestial things, but I do like the name Atlas, and several others.

Atlas makes me think of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

fergette on

To carry over for a moment my comment from the other post about baby Atlas and my disappointment since the name has been on my list for some time…
As an example of how celebrity baby names have an impact on baby naming as a whole… http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=KINGSTON&ms=false&sw=f&exact=false and http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=SHILOH&ms=false&sw=f&exact=false

Mia on

My friend’s baby is named Aurora, and they call her “Rory” for short. I think that is really cute.

SAR on

Anne named her first son Homer, aka the author of the Greek epics “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” So maybe she just has a fondness for Greek mythology.

Laura on

Plenty of mythological names are gorgeous, and I always said that if I ever had a kid I would seriously consider using one of those, but you have to be really really careful when picking a name with so much meaning. Of course, all names come from somewhere, but these are so linked to their respective myths that you need to watch out. For example, I love how the name Mars sounds, but I don’t think I’d ever want my child’s name, which to some extent is going to define him, linked to something as heavy as war. Sure, it goes together with the idea of being strong and being a fighter (in the less violent sense of the word) but then again there are tons of other names to go with if that’s what one’s looking for.

So in short, I love how mythological names sound, but I think choosing them should not revolve around how intrincate they may or may not sound, or around if they can be pulled off by ‘non celebrities’ which I think is irrelevant (you don’t need to be anyone in particular to have any sort of name). I believe the secret in these names is in their meaning and what you’re going to be somewhat installing in a person by naming them that.

Vicki on

I love mythological names (would seriously consider using Ismene, Calliope, Thalia, Orion) but they are difficult to pronounce for some people, and hard to understand over a phone! Middle names is probably an easier way to use them. Trends change though. Daphne is a myth name, and yet wouldn’t that be considered rather outdated now?

I also agree with the pets suggestion – my cats are Persephone (Sephy) and Antigone (Tiggy).

Ultimately I think they are nice to use if you are brave enough, and if the myth in question means something to you. I’m not sure about Atlas specifically though – doesn’t it suggest the poor lad will always have the weight of the world on his shoulders?

jessica on

I think Luna and Aurora are beautiful names.. and so are many others above! Each to their own, in my opinion i’d rather an unusual name which has an intresting and strong history and story rather than a made up name for the sake of being unique.

k on

My daughters’ name is Freya – The scandinavian goddess of fertility and love. We didn’t choose it because of this we just liked the name.

Fred Smilek on

Those names are very interesting. i do like mythological names to a degree, but nothing to weird or out there tho.

Harley on

It all depends on what name you use from mythology. Names like Brendan, Cullen, Daphne, Orion, Morrigan, Athena, Venus and even Apollo I could totally support. I’ll be using a name from mythology for one of my boys as it’s a good, strong name that is still used today, just not very often. I’m a bit of a Mythology freak lol. I have a HUGE book that has the Now, if someone did something outright mean like naming their kid Hydra or Hyppolyte I’d want to smack ’em. As long as you have done your research and it’s a good name, rock on.

Aitch on

I would definitely use one of those names. I really love Orion and Luna!

Christine on

I actually love some of the god and mystical names: Gaia, Eris, Athena, Zeus, and Hermes, just to name a few. However, one has to give serious thought to actually using these names on an child because kids are mean and tease.

chloe on

We are naming our first child (currently cooking until july) Calliope Aurelia if she is to be a girl. I fell in love with the name Calliope who was the muse of epic poetry and was the Homer’s inspriation. I also love the name Atlas (I know a toddler named this and it is just so classic and cute) Orion & Aristotle are also on my short list. My name is Chloe so the greek goddess theme works in our house.

appellationmountain on

I have a Clio! She’s sitting on my lap right now, attempting to type. 🙂

Vicki, I think Daphne is about to make a comeback. I know a few parents with her on their shortlists.

As for the trend issue? It is something to consider, but my feeling is this: if the name has been in use over the years, and is simply rising and falling in popularity, then why not? Doris is also a nymph’s name – I’m guessing we won’t meet many baby girls called Doris (unlike the Jolie-Pitts use it, I suppose) but it’s still a valid, interesting choice that will stand the test of time.

Atlas is cool. I get a world traveller vibe from the name.

chloe on

We thought about naming our boy Dorian but the grandmas talked me down because they both thought it was too feminine, which I still don’t see… but it’s is also an interesting and strong greek name and related to Doris.

Abbey on

I like names that aren’t common. There are extremes that can paint a kid negatively.

I find it quite odd that people take issue with “gods” names. Greek/Roman/Egyptian Mythological names are no different than biblical names. Both stem from ancient mythologies that have persevered for hundreds of years; yet somehow it’s okay to name a child Elijah (who was said to have been taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire) but not Atlas (who held the world on his shoulders). Strange.

Sarah on

Chloe, are the grandmas big fans of “One Life to Live?” There is a female Dorian on that show who has been around forever. Maybe that’s how they got the idea that Dorian is a girl’s name🙂

Silvermouse on

I want to name my future children if they are girls, Celeste and Athena. Call me weird, but I think they are beautiful names. That is if my future husband agrees😀

Laney McDonald on

I love Mythological names, but there are some that are too crazy. Atlas is one of them.

I like Athena, Aurora, Diana, Celeste, Daphne, Maia, Cassandra, Penelope, Seraphina, Luna, Hermes, Zeus, Orion, and Artemis. Homer is ok, but alot of people might ask him if he got his name from The Simpsons. I would use all of those, except Luna and Artemis because those are the names of the two cats in the Sailor Moon anime series. It would be silly to name a child after a cartoon character. lol Cassandra is my little sister’s name so couldn’t use it either unless it’s a middle name. The rest I would use without hesitation.

Aurora on

Haha.. interesting! My screen name, which has always been a favourite girl name of mine, is one of the mentioned names here. i also noticed that someone else uses Rory as a nickname for it. So much for being original! haha Acutally, I have loved aurora and rory for a girl for about 8 years now… i’m just nowhere NEAR ready to have a child. Maybe by the time I am ready, the names will no longer be in vogue.😛

Leigh on

Ok mom to the baby who wanted to name him Jay-nus…You need to thank your family for talking you out of it…I mean Jay-nus…Anus…hello!!!! Atlas is horrible as are most celebrity baby names. Can’t you see the kids saying to a teenage Apple…come here baby and let me take a bite out of you? Come on, kids have enough to deal with, give them NORMAL names! Do you want your son to get his butt kicked every day? with Atlas he’ll have to prove himself over and over again…seriously, think about it, your kids are saddled with their name their ENTIRE life

babyboopie on

I love the name Athena and Artemis as well as Amadeus. I adore the name Luna but it’s too close to Lunatic or Loony!

danda_lion on

Like Aelys said, any Greek person would know people with many of these names from mythology. [Incidentally, some names that non-Greeks would think of as ancient never fell out of use. I know two guys named Aristotle.]

There was a boy named Thor at a school where I worked. His father complained about him being too loud. His teacher said to me, “He’s the one who named him *Thor*.”🙂

Isabella on

Yesss! I love them!

Mia on

Another reason to like the name “Aurora” is after the Foo Fighters song, so that is pretty cool. I wouldn’t use it, but I think it’s a very cool name.

Sam & Freya's Mum, NZ on

K: We have a Freya too! She’s just over 14 mths. We named her that because I’d seen it in a UK magazine while preg with son nearly 5 years ago and liked it, first impressions and all I guess, had it in back of mind, and at one stage liked Mia/Maia but became so popular/common changed minds!, guess Freya would be more popular in UK with it being nearer Scandinavia, not that common here in New Zealand yet, which is partly why we liked it, a bit diff but loved the ring to it! Luckily when I suggested it hubby liked it too – he’s into mythology and had heard the name before so that helped seal it, although was mainly that we liked the sound of it, that it was an obviously feminine name, not too long winded and not the usual Mia, Sophie, Ella, Emma, Madison type name either! Nice to hear of another mum of a Freya! Our 4 1/2 year old son however has a more ‘normal’ name, Sam! Not short for Samuel as hubby prefers shorter version and so do I now. Called him Sammy when younger but as I saw in another item re Naomi Watts, think it does sound babyish when older as Sammy as she said, to us anyhow, so as he’s gotten older it’s mainly Sam – we couldn’t agree on other boys names, so have a traditional and not so traditional name for our two! Freya’s middle name’s Isabelle so she can go by that or Izzy perhaps if she prefers it to Freya when older. My friend Barb didn’t know any Freya’s a few years ago, now knows 4 including our little Miss. Most people have commented that they like the name and hadn’t really heard it before. Does your Freya have a middle name, K? Generally not into the other mythological names myself, but don’t mind Atlas, prefer it to Homer – but wouldn’t be brave enough to name a child Atlas myself!

maria on

Atlas is fine, beautiful even. But Aristotle? I think that it is important to really research ancient names. Not all of them are the same and not all of them are mythological. Aristotle was an actual person. Eg. Ancient philosopher in the lineage of Plato and Socrates, assigned for most undergraduate reading classes. Similiar to naming your child Einstein, Hawking or Mozart. Intense choice! Also, Sophocles is an ancient Greek playwright who wrote the tragic play Oedipus, about the king who married his mother and killed his father!

Pencils on

My daughter is called Aurora, the Latin goddess of the dawn, so, yes, I’d use a mythological name! I minored in classics in college (majored in ancient history and studied archaeology in grad school) so I definitely wanted a good Graeco-Latin name for my baby. (Her middle names are more ordinary: Jane Katherine.)

Obviously I like the trend, but I think some names are more “usable” in our society than others. Atlas, I’m afraid, isn’t one of them. I like Castor, I like Luna, but I’m afraid that Hermes makes me think of the luxury brand before the god.

Misti on

I have a son named Atlas and think it fits him. I don’t feel it will have a negative effect, if anything postive… We just liked the name and didn’t even consider we were trying to make him into a tiny God to worship. Bottom line… it is a great name.

Suzi on

I names my son Atlas in early 2008 when he was born – I love, love that name.
Homer refers to Atlas as “one who knows the depths of the whole sea, and keeps the tall pillars who hold heaven and earth asunder”

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