What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Shakespear’s Juliet said this to Romeo while arguing that it does not matter that Romeo is from her rival’s house of Montague. It has no relevance that he is named “Montague.”
Romeo’s response to that was as beautiful as Juliet’s argument.
I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
Romeo went as far as forsaking his name for the love of his life.
So it’s generally true for everyone everything that the names of things do not affect what they really are. But our name does play an important role in our lives. As it’s a name that we listen or read every day so it is bound to affect us and affect our personalities.
I have played a lot with my name, I was born Tania Palijo, transformed myself into Tania Thebo when I started writing I gave myself the pen name of Tania Thebo, because my mother was a fiction writer too and she was a Thebo by cast. I chose to be called Tania Saleem when I got married to a Man whose name was Saleem. Lot of women want to retain their surname and just add their husband’s name or surname to their names. I did the same too and sometimes I still do.
Lot of children attach the surnames of both of their parents just like Benazir Bhutto’s children Bilawal and Bhakhtawar. I never did that. I was either Palijo or very briefly Thebo. In school record I was always Palijo for obvious reason. Finally my name has got some permanence. When I read my current name I feel as if it is a name of an Urdu speaking poetess. It’s a name of a Sindhi woman who occasionally writes poetry in Urdu, but is not a typical Urdu speaking poetess.
I have always liked my name and I have been thankful to my mother for giving me this beautiful name. My mother had told me that she had named me after a Russian girl who had took part in Russian revolution. She was caught by Czar’s army and was to be hanged but was rescued at the last minute. As they say our names shape our personalities or sometimes destinies too. So I have also been saved at the last minute through some divine intervention.
I have been told by Russian lady that Tania was name of a flower. She had been living in our neighborhood after marrying a Siraiki speaking Sindhi man who had met her while doing his Masters in Russia. I also knew that it was a nick name or baby name. It was short form of Tatiana. Tatiana is a Russian female name of Latin origin. Tanya or Tania is its Russian version. Basically it’s a Russian name and its main meaning is “Fairy Queen”.
I had read this name in Russian novels too. Tatiana Larina is the heroine of Alexander Pushkin’s celebrated novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin. The poem was and continues to be extremely popular in Russia. Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. By the way this man was my first crush when I was little girl.
My mother used to say her ancestors came from Thebes Valley in Greece. And later on it was turned into a joke that they did not come from Thebes’s valley but from “Thieves valley”. As a little girl I had doubt that any such valley existed in Greece. Because it was Pre Google Era so it was difficult to verify. But finally when I googled it I found out there was not just one but there were two Thebes valleys, one was in Egypt and the other was in Greece.
Why I had interest in my maternal origin? There are many reasons. First and for most it had link with ancient history. It was associated with Greek Gods and Goddesses. Furthermore my distant past was embedded in my personal as well as collective consciousness. Jung defines his concept of collective unconscious in the following words.
The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual. (From The Structure of the Psyche).
The Greek Gods and Goddesses were strong Archetypes that have been part of thoughts deeply embedded in my psyche.
Intrigued by my mother’s surname and its link with the land of Greek Gods I googled it and found out that there are many people across the globe whose surname is Thebo one such person is Mimi Thebo . From her website I further found out that Mimi Thebo mainly writes for children. Her novel for children, Wipe Out, was adapted for a Bafta-winning film by the BBC. Her books have been translated into nine languages. I found and followed her on Twitter also. There were many thebos I am not going to search for every Thebo but my search about its link with ancient Greece and Greek mythology was not over
Ancient History Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica give following information about Thebes Valley. “Thebes, Modern Greek Thíva is a major city of Boeotia (Modern Greek: Voiotía) one of the chief cities and powers of ancient Greece.
Thebes is a town in central Greece which has been continuously inhabited for five millennia. It was an important Mycenaean centre in the middle to late Bronze Age and was a powerful city-state in the Classical period, participating in both the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, reaching its peak of influence in the early 4th century BCE when it was the most powerful city in Greece.”
Thebes was, according to legend, the birthplace of the mythological pan-Hellenic hero Hercules. It was also the place where the Sphinx – a mythical creature with a woman’s head and a winged lion’s body – appeared to terrorize the area until her riddle was solved. Her riddle asked passersby to identify the creature that may have two, three, or four feet, can move in air, water, and on land, and moves more slowly the more feet it has. Oedipus solved the riddle – man – and in a rage the Sphinx leapt to her death from the Theban acropolis.
Following the Dark Ages in Greece (c.1100 to 700 BCE), Thebes re-emerged as an influential Greek city-state and for the next four centuries the city would be a constant rival to Athens and Sparta for regional dominance. Finally Alexander, destroyed the city and sold the population into slavery.
And finally when I googled “Women of Thebes” I thought I am not going to get anything from this search but lo and behold I found that there is an article titled “ Women of Thebes” written by Barbara Goff and published by The Classical Journal .
Coming back to the magic and mysteries of names casts and their origin, my curiosity was satiated for the time being. I did not find anything common in my maternal family and ancient Greek people except that some of the women including my mother had same complexion. Besides same complexion she had many characteristics of Greek Goddesses. She was beautiful she was innocent but sharp at the same time she was very romantic and believed in freedom from every kind of slavery that man or women had ever endured.
So what I have in common with those ancient people? I will have to consult my collective unconsciousness to find out what are the main archetypes that dominate my relationships and my thought process. It’s going to be a long story so better share it when we meet next time.