rare Greek baby names

Greek mythology is filled with fantastic stories and legends. While many of the names found within these ancient stories are a little too archaic for day-to-day use, the vast array of characters means that there is still a lot of inspiration for baby names. There are plenty of gods and goddesses and other figures from Greek mythology to choose from. Many of the more obscure ancient names have been updated, and their modern incarnations make charming choices for little ones.

Whether or not you are a fan of Greek mythology, you are sure to love these gorgeous names that come packed with history and, in many cases, a little bit of magic. These names aren’t overused, either. The monikers on this list are rare enough that they will provide your baby with a unique and legendary name. Keep reading to learn some of the rarest and most beautiful names out there, taken right from the myths of ancient Greece!

Selene

baby asleep on moon

While a variation of Selene, Selena, is well-known thanks to celebrities Selena Quintanilla and Selena Gomez, Selene still flies under the radar. The name means "moon" in Greek and is the name of a goddess. While similar to the French name Celine, popularized by singer Celine Dion, the two names actually have different roots. Celine is a feminine variation of an ancient Roman name which is unconnected to the Greek goddess.

In Greek mythology, Selene is the moon personified as a goddess. According to one source, she is the daughter of Hyperion and Theia. In keeping with the celestial theme, her brother is the sun god Helios, although some sources claim that Helios is her father. She was also worshiped by the ancient Romans, although in Roman religion she went by the name of Luna. Selene was worshiped at the new moon and the full moon by both the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Cassandra

happy laughing baby

Cassandra might not have the greatest legacy in terms of Greek mythology, but that doesn’t mean that this beautiful name can’t be reinvented in modern times. A doomed figure in the story of the Trojan war, Cassandra was a princess of Troy who had the power of prophecy but was cursed so that no one would believe her prophecies. While she accurately predicted the fall of her city, no one believed her because of the curse and Troy was defeated by the Spartans.

It’s uncertain what the origin of the name is, although it’s likely that it comes from the Greek words "kekasmai" and "aner" meaning "to excel" and "man." In spite of its tragic backstory, the name became quite popular in the Middle Ages, although it died out over the years. Although use of the name increased in the 20th century, it has slipped down the ranks in recent years, making it overdue for a revival.

Zeno

baby wrapped in blue towel

While the name Zeus might be a rather unorthodox choice for a baby name, there’s an adorable variation derived from the name of the ruler of the Greek gods that feels a little more modern in spite of its ancient roots. Zeno is an abbreviation of Zenon, which ultimately comes from Zeus. Two Greek philosophers bore this name, Zeno of Elea and Zeno of Citium. While the name has been around for a long time, it’s still pretty popular in both Italy and Hungary.

In Greek mythology, Zeus was the chief deity who wielded thunderbolts and sent storms, rain, and wind to the earth. He is the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter and also has a connection to ancient Hindu tradition as his name was inspired by the sky god Dyaus. While he ruled the gods, he was also considered to be the father of men as well as the gods.

Leda

baby in blue dress drinking bottle

Leda is a figure in Greek mythology and has also been an inspiration for generations of artists. She was the mother of Helen, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world who was the cause of the Trojan War. According to legend, Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan, although sources differ on how many of her children were fathered by the god. At least two of them, Pollux and Helen, are commonly accepted as having been hatched from eggs and were thus the children of Zeus.

The story of Zeus coming to Leda in the shape of a swan was a popular subject in art through the ages. Correggio and Leonardo da Vinci both painted the scene, although da Vinci’s interpretation has been lost to history. The story of Leda and the swan is also depicted in literature, notably in William Butler Yeats’ poem Leda and the Swan.

Moira

three babies triplets

Not all of the legendary beings in Greek mythology are gods and goddesses. There are a host of other mythological entities in these stories. Among these legendary beings are the Moirai. The Greek name Moira means "fate" or "destiny" and was the name given to the Fates who controlled the lives of humans. According to the legend, the Moirai (Moira is the singular form) were three goddesses who would spin threads that would determine a person’s destiny.

The Fates could not only control how much suffering a person would endure through their lifespan but also controlled the exact moment of a person’s death. This makes the Moirai some of the most powerful figures in Greek mythology as they held life in their hands.

Outside of Greek mythology, the name Moira also has Gaelic roots. It’s an Anglicized version of the Irish name Máire. Its cross-cultural history makes Moira an even more interesting baby name.

Achilles

baby on a wooden horse wearing a crown

One of the heroes of the Trojan War, Achilles was said to be an indomitable Greek warrior who was undefeated in battle. He was almost completely invulnerable, as his mother had dipped him into the River Styx as a baby, making him virtually impossible to harm. His one weak spot was his heel, left susceptible to injury as his mother held him by the heel when dipping him in the river.

This one weak spot would turn out to be his downfall, and Achilles was eventually killed after an arrow was shot into it. The legend of the story grew so big that even today, we call a person’s weak spot their Achilles’ heel.

While not a very common name, Achilles is surprisingly climbing up the ranks. It first popped up in the charts in 2015, debuting at number 968, after decades of obscurity. It looks like this name may be overcoming its own weaknesses. Could it one day reach the top of the charts?

Harmony

baby in dress wearing necklaces

The musical name of Harmony comes from the Greek word harmonia, but the word is also the name of a goddess. Harmonia is a lesser-known goddess in Greek mythology, although her parents are better known. She was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite by one account, although in other stories she is the daughter of Zeus and Electra.

While we associate the word "harmony" with music these days, in mythology Harmonia was the personification of the order of the universe. Her wedding to Cadmus ended in tragedy, and was the end of the golden age of myth. It was the last time that the gods and mortals were said to have gathered on good terms.

While Harmonia isn’t really used as a name in modern times, Harmony first appeared on the baby name charts in the 1970s. It never really caught on, dropping out of the rankings in the 1980s, but has seen a slow revival since the 1990s. While still not very common, this name is gradually gaining traction and may soon become more widely used.

Hector

baby blowing bubbles

The legend of the Trojan War has given us a lot of incredible baby names. One of these names is Hector, the Latin form of the Greek name Hektor which means "holding fast." During the Trojan War, Hector fought for the Trojans and killed Patroclus, the best friend of the Greek hero Achilles. Devastated by his friend’s death, Achilles slayed Hector, tied his body to a chariot, and dragged Hector behind it. While the name’s Greek legacy is a little grim, it’s not the only time the name pops up on legendary tales. According to Arthurian legend, King Arthur’s foster father was named Hector.

The name is also an Anglicized version of the Gaelic name Eachann which comes from the words for "horse" and "brown." While the name is not very common in the United States, there are some other areas of the world where it is incredibly popular. Hector is used in France and the U.K. In Catalonia, Spain, and Chile, the name is in the top 100 names for baby boys.

Ariadne

baby on beach

Ariadne is comprised of two Greek elements. It comes from the word "ari" meaning "most," and "adnos" meaning "holy." The mythological Ariadne was a princess, the daughter of King Minos who fell in love with the Athenian hero Theseus.

Theseus defeated the Minotaur, a creature that was half bull and half man that was trapped in the Labyrinth, a maze from which most people would not have been able to escape. With Ariadne’s help, Theseus was able to find his way out of the Labyrinth, but Ariadne was poorly repaid. After she helped him, Theseus abandoned the princess, leaving her brokenhearted. In some versions of the story, Ariadne hangs herself, but other retellings have her abandoned on an island by Theseus. In these tales, Ariadne is rescued by the god Dionysus and marries him.

Ariadne would go on to be immortalized by various artists, appearing in many paintings and poems. Richard Stauss’ opera, Ariadne auf Naxos is based on the tale of Ariadne.

Sibyl

baby holding red ball

Sibyl, a prophetess in Greek legend who was also known as Sibylla, was an ancient figure even by ancient Greek standards. By the 4th century B.C., the tale of this legendary woman had become a myth among the ancient Greeks, but the name itself survived.

Oracles who made prophecies were all given the title of sibyl. Sibyls were also respected by the Romans and were even revered as prophetesses by early Christians. As sibyls were respected in Christian tradition, the name became popular in the Middle Ages, although it eventually fell out of fashion.

By the 19th century, the name had been revived, fading in and out of style for the next century. By the late 1920s, the name was again on its way out and has yet to reemerge as a popular baby name, although we predict it will only be a matter of time before it again comes into common use.

Damon

babies best friends

The name Damon comes from the Greek word "damazo" which means "to tame." In Greek mythology, Damon was the best friend of a man named Pythias. The two friends were so devoted to each other that, when Pythias was condemned to death for plotting the death of Dionysius I of Syracuse, Damon volunteered to take his place so that Pythias could temporarily go free.

Dionysius expected that Pythias would flee and that Damon would be executed in his place, but Pythias returned in time to save Damon’s life. Dionysius was so touched by the devotion of the two friends that he granted Pythias a full pardon for his crimes.

In spite of this heartwarming tale of friendship, the name Damon didn’t really come into use in the English language until the 20th century. The name almost broke into the top 100 names for boys in the 1970s, but never quite made it, although it has remained in the top 500 since then.

Thalia

baby wearing pink onesie with heart

The name Thalia is derived from the Greek word "thallo" which means "to blossom." It is the modern form of the ancient Greek version of the name, Thaleia. Thalia pops up a couple of times in Greek mythology, although she is not one of the better-known goddesses.

Thalia was one of the nine Muses, a group of sisters who were the goddesses of the arts. Thalia was the Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry. Thalia was also the name of one of the Greek Charites, or Graces, who were worshiped as goddesses of fertility.

With such powerful goddesses bearing the name, it’s hard to believe that the name Thalia isn’t more widely used. The name popped onto the charts in 1992, coming in at 750, and has struggled to gain traction since then. It’s slightly more popular in France, although it has barely broken into the top 300 there.

Maia

baby girl crawling

A figure in both Greek and Roman mythology, Maia was one of the Pleiades, a cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation. The Pleiades were the daughters of two other deities, Atlas and Pleione. Maia was the oldest of her sisters. She had a relationship with Zeus, the ruler of the gods, and together they fathered the god Hermes. Maia was also the name of a Roman divinity, who is also known by the name Majesta. She is sometimes thought to be the wife of the god Vulcan.

Maia remains a fairly uncommon name in most of the world, although it is popular in New Zealand and Croatia. While this variation isn’t very often used, there is a far more common version of the name. Maya is popular around the world, ranking in the top 100 names for girls in the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Wales, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Scotland.