Éponine

Gender: Female
Origin: French
Meaning “great mare.”
Pronunciation French (AY-po-NEEN); English (EP-eh-NEEN)

The name is derived from the name of the Ancient Gaulic goddess, Epona.

A goddess associated with fertility, Epona was known as the patroness of horses, donkeys, and mules. She was the only Celtic diety whose worship became popular among Romans, who delegated her as protectress and controller of calvary and chariots. Remnants of her devotion are found all throughout central Europe. One famous artifact is an inscription written by a Syrian, which goes as follows

Eponina ‘dear little Epona’: she is Atanta, horse-goddess Potia ‘powerful Mistress’, Dibonia, Catona ‘of battle’, noble and good Vovesia.” (1st-Century BC). Rom, Dieux-Sievres, France.

Along with the inscription were found remnants of a cauldron and a sacrificed horse.

Though a popular minor divinity among the Romans, it is now believed that the Celts revered her as a powerful, central figure to their religion. Her story as told by the Celts, is lost to history, but Plutach came up with an interesting allegory regarding the goddess’ beginnings:

reports out of Agesilaus, his third book of Italian matters, that Fulvius Stella loathing the company of a woman, coupled himself with a mare, of whom he begot a very beautiful maiden-child, and she was called by a fit name, Epona…

The name Epona is derived from the Gaulic elements of ekwos, meaning “horse.” Equus is thought to be derived from this, and the term pony is said to be derived from the goddess’ name.

Eponina was an endearing latinized form used to invoke the goddess by devotees.

The horse was a central figure to ancient Celtic religions. There are carvings and paintings of horses found throughout France and the British Isles, thought to have been made by the Celts.

The famed chalk horse of Uffington, England has been associated with an Epona-like diety by scholars and archeologists. It is believed that Epona is related to the Welsh horse goddess, Rhiannon.

In more recent history, Éponine was used by Victor Hugo for his 1862 novel Les Miserables.

Variations of this name include the more pure and ancient form of Epona, the more latinate form of Eponina, and the sweetly feminine and romantic French form of Éponine.

The most popular French nickname for this is Ponette which also happens to be a French term used for a young, female pony.

Ponette was the name of the title character of the 1996 French film by Jacques Doillon.

Other nicknames include, Eppie, Pony, Poe, Nina, & Ninette.

Pomeline, Poméline

Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: “apple”
Pronunciation (POM-eh-LEEN; po-MAY-leen)

September and October are apple season. Hence is why I decided to revisit this post.

An obscure French name that had made it to the limelight thanks to Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco. Charlotte was supposedly named after a distance ancestor from the Middle Ages, a minor Italian or Genovese princess by the name of Pomellina. The name is thought to be derived from the Italian word pomella which is derived from the Italian word poma meaning “apple.” The name was also borne by

 

  • Pomellina Adorno, the daughter of the duc of Genoa (1355-1410)
  • Pomellina Amandola ( circ. 15th-16th cent)
  • Pomellina Campo Fregoso (1387/88-1462/68), the wife of John I Grimaldi and mother of Catalan Grimaldi the ancestor of Princess Charlotte of Monaco.

The name was adapted into the French Pomelline and evolved into the more modern form of Poméline.

Another French form is Pommeline.

There is also the obscure French name of Pomme, which is also the French word for apple. Pomme was borne by an early French saint, originally spelled Pome.

This is a far less risky choice than the name Apple.

Nicknames include: Apple, Pomme (PUM), Plum and Poppy, Melli, or even Pomé (poe-MAY).