Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Meet Lamia

Ok while reading the comments on the previous post, I was surprised to get introduced to the interesting figure of Lamia. Now I have been familiar with the story of Lilith and other figures but Lamia is totally new for me.

(I just love big pictures of half naked women, don't you?)

Another interesting aspect of this name is the fact that it's a common name in the Arab world, not exactly in Lebanon (in Lebanon such clearly Arabic, nomadic names are not cool enough) but in the rest of the Arab world it's actually common and popular. So I was curious to know what does this name mean, and would it's meaning in anyway explain the picture depicted in the Greek mythology, one of vengeful, bitter mother without children that compensated her children's death by eating other women's children... Oh not to mention the the half serpentine body!

Now Lamia is said to have lived in Libya, and she is in fact the symbol of the feared Libyan snakes (well they are desert snakes aren't they?). But the origin of her name is not cited in the wikipedia source. I find it unlikely that this name would be of Arabic origin, since Libya was not an Arabic country at the time of the Ancient Greeks. Same as Lebanon, all of Northern Africa, all of the Levant's region and the Mesopotamian one also, as most of you already know, Arabs were only the inhabitants of the Arab Peninsula.

Another possibility would be that the name existed in the ancient language of the inhabitants of Libya and the Arabs somehow adopted that name and integrated it into their language. I suppose the only way to check that out is to go back to the meaning of the name Lamia which means:

أما لمياء معناه: الفتاة ذات السُّمرة المُستحبة في الشفتين واللثة ، الشفاه اللطيفة الرقيقة ، الرماح السُّمر الصَّلبة ، والأشجار الكثيفة الظل .

I know you don't read Arabic! It's translated to:

The girl with a beautiful darkness in her lips.
Nice and delicate lips.
Dark and hard spears.
Thick and shadowy trees.

No mention of snakes or power or anything. Another annoying fact against any common-ancestry theory is the fact that in Standard Arabic we say Lamiaa' not lamia, you have to emphasize on the ending A and to cut it in the end.

So I guess maybe it just happens that this name belonged to the so many different cultures without any real connection or fusion between the two, a sort of convergence maybe... That kind of reminds me of the coincidence that made the word theo mean God in both ancient Latin and ancient Aztec languages (I think it was Aztec, I am not sure anymore). This convergence was long used to defend the theory of an archaic mother language that gave birth to all spoken languages now, however future studies and years of scrutiny would prove that this is in fact a simple coincidence, no more no less.


Severian said...

I think I will disagree. We can guess there was no interaction between Romans and Aztecs but we know there was a lot of interaction between Greek and Middle East cultures. I would actually be surprised if such similar names as Lamia and Lamiaa' were not related.

This made me think of the topic of verboten names. Lamiaa' does seem to be a common arabic name by my searches. But I think the Greeks don't have many Lamia girls (but there is a Greek city named that). In English, Lilith could be a semi-acceptable name but not Vampirella or something like that.

Similarly, Jesus is a common name in Spanish, unacceptable in English, though we do have Christophers and Christians. And while Mohammed is the most common first name in the world I think there are not many Gautamas or Siddharthas or Buddhas. Plenty of Krishnas and Vishnus in India though. I think Adolph has virtually disappeared as an English and German name but Adolfo is okay in Spanish.

Are there any forbidden names in Arabic?

p.s. I noted something I hadn't known before in one of the articles: Lilith and Pazuzu have a connection.

Severian said...

p.p.s. This link applies better to the previous Neanderthal post but I think that's a dead thread by now:>1=10316

This discussion of the co-existence of H. erectus and H. habilus is relevant, especially the parts about interbreeding and the principle that new species arise more from partitioning an environment than direct competition and elimination.

xoussef said...

Hera is such a bi**h!

in Basque mythology, a Lamia is a sort of water spirit, with human female body and aquatic bird's palmed legs.

Chris in MB said...

"though we do have Christophers "
Christopher actually isn't directly referring/derived from Christ.

From the Greek 'christos' (the annointed one, Christ) and 'phero' (I carry). Christopher is the patron saint of travellers and, according to the legend, Christopher carried the young Jesus across a river.

NOMAD said...

to add my partition, could the "Ophelia legend" be connected with the basque mythology ?

I think in celt legends there are some alike sorts of "Lamia"

"Adolph" was a nickname we gave to the dogs from WWII times

"Mao" had its fashionned times too :lol:

actually, I think some people may give "Putin", "Dubbleiu", to their pitbulls, and "Blair" to their poodles :lol:

if I had a rooster, I would have called him "Chirac", dunno for Sarko, "Mickey Mouse" ? :lol:

NOMAD said...

the legend of the basque Lamia

in celtish legends we have "Melusine"; and her place is not far from where I live "Lusignan"

Melusine (english version)

Melusine"(french version)

Ophelia is a virginity symbol, then, no possible to connect her with the "lamiak spirits"

NOMAD said...

sorry the english version is here :


lamia said...

Well,My name is Lamia and I'm from Lebanon. Just thought I'll share that with you all :)

Lamia said...

Another Lamia from Lebanon in the house :)

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