Name Selection in Sleep Escapes Us

December 24, 2011 at 4:09 am (writing)

I’m not one normally for choosing names for characters based on meaning. I usually just go with a gut feeling of what sounds like an appropriate name for the individual. With Sleep Escapes Us, however, I wanted legitimate Thracian names and my research also provided name meanings along with culturally-specific names. The majority of the names I used were sourced from
Ivan Duridanov’s “The Language of the Thracians,” specifically from the section on Thracian onomastics – personal names, with a couple of exceptions. Since I had the definitions before me while I was making my selection, they did influence my choice. Here are the characters in order of appearance and the meanings for the names:

Zelmis – Diminutive form of Diazelmis, “god’s descendant”. I thought it ironic since he would actually be a god’s ancestor.

Hecate, & Zalmoxis – along with Bendis and Zagreus, these were deities of the Thracian mythos. Zagreus was actually the Thracian name for Dionysus, who was reportedly born of a mortal mother.

Iulia – Young. Considering she died young and there is not much known about her other than a fleeting glimpse during Zelmis’s memories, I thought it appropriate.

Alina – I found this listed as both “light” and “noble”. I thought this defined her well.

Dentysyskos – daughter of the clan

Mukaburis – man (son) of the clan. I felt he and his wife were good examples of the standard Gataen settlement members, so the names suited them.

King Rhemoxos – I went with history on this one, even though this was fantasy. This was an actual Thracian king.

Cezula – “Black and white”, the colours of her hair and skin

Kerza – from the Thracian adjective kerasa, “black”, an offshoot from her mother

Suratralis – “Strong, brave”, an apt description. I also wanted a name that distinguished him from the rest of his family.

Brinkazis – “fat, stout, a boor”, an understatement, but still appropriate

Pytros – “‘bawler, squaller, babbler”. I wanted derogatory names for the generals, since they were the villains.

Dentupes – “a boy, a son of the clan”. Fitting the theme of the family.

Mukakenthos – “child, descendant of the clan”. Also fitting the theme of the family.

Prince Tarutinos (Tinos) – “holding a spear, lancer”. Considering his role in the story, I couldn’t resist this one…

Skaris – “quick”, although apparently not quick enough.

Sleep Escapes Us is posted on can be read in its entirety in first draft format until December 31, 2011. You can find the first chapter at:

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