Girl 2.0

I went with S!byl Fl0rence for Ivy's sister in the end. The first half of the pregnancy we were leaning towards some form of Isolde, but at 22 weeks pregnant I started reading a book about sibyls and storytellers and that tipped the balance the other way.

The hardest thing was choosing between the Syb!l and S!byl spellings, as both of them looked right and looked wrong at the same time (here in Spain she'll be using the Catalan form wherever we can get away with it). In the end, I decided that this way I and both my daughters have the i-consonant-y pattern in our names, and it makes for a special thrill every time I'm reading something and a s!byl shows up (more often than you might think). 

Now... my husband wants to get a small tattoo for each daughter: a typographical sign that looks like an ivy leaf for the first one and... any thoughts on what could make a good symbol for this one?

And thank you everyone for your help!


May 31, 2018 1:17 PM

Congratulations! It's a lovely name, and the vowel connection is so special (I also have a fondness for the word-spelling).

I think the most common imagery associated with the prophetesses is either books or scrolls, since they usually wrote their predictions down or had their predictions collected into books (i.e. the S!byll!ne Books and S!byll!ne Oracles). Alternatively, if your husband wanted to go a little more thematic, a couple of famous examples are said to have written their predictions on leaves—supposedly oak leaves, in the case of the Cumaean s!byl.

June 2, 2018 10:35 AM

Ooh, an oak leaf could be great! We knew they wrote on leaves, but not that there was a specific leaf identified!

June 3, 2018 11:58 PM

One minor caveat: I've found many references to the oak leaves used by the Cumaean S!byll, but I'm not entirely sure where that comes from. Most of the references I've found (including scholarly papers by Classicists) cite the Aeneid, either Book 3 or 6, but I can't see where the text actually references oak leaves rather than just leaves. It may be an inference because of other mentions of sacred oaks, or something known from some other source, or maybe something that my very rudimentary Latin-interpretation skills are insufficient to find (I've mainly searched the Latin text with help from Google Translate and some other offline dictionaries; the full translations I've found all just say "leaves"). I still think it would be a reasonable symbol, though.

By EVie
June 4, 2018 11:34 AM

I think you're right about the Aeneid. My Latin is no better than yours, but I don't see "oak" and "leaves" in close proximity. Oak in Latin is "quercus," and it occurs nine times (in various cases) in the Aeneid, but not in relation to leaves (mostly stuff like "the tops of high oaks," "the strength of the oak," people hanging out under oak trees). The passage about scattering the leaves doesn't specify oak. Even if it's apocryphal, it's clearly evolved into a strong association over the centuries, so I also think it's fine. Just make sure you have the right type of oak leaf! There are a zillion species and they don't all have the same kind of leaves. Based on current distributions, I would guess  Quercus frainettoQuercus petraea, or Quercus pubescens, but I have no idea how that compares to what existed in ancient times! 

My first thought was to use a sigma, as it's the first letter of the word in the original Greek, but in combination with an ivy leaf that might read as rather fratty? 

Also, congratulations! Beautiful name, and I love the word-spelling.

June 5, 2018 10:26 AM

Okay, thank you for the head's up on the probably lack of actual oak leaves in the Aeneid. I think it's probably fine though; as you say, the association has evolved, if erroneously, over the centuries, and we're probably okay with shrugging it off if someone does come bearing an annotated copy of the book and looking askance. I will pass all this on though. A scroll is another decent option if not. 

May 31, 2018 7:55 PM

congrats on S!byl Florence - Ivy and S!byl are lovely.  Not sure on the tattoo - though,  something to do with a prophetess maybe a cross

June 1, 2018 7:45 AM

Congratulations! I wish those names would get more use in the US--lovely.

June 1, 2018 12:54 PM

The Delphic S!byl from the Sistine Chapel is the first image that comes to mind.  Not so much a symbol, but it is beautiful.

June 2, 2018 10:37 AM

It is beautiful! We're talking a tattoo the size of a dime or a nickel though, so I'm not sure it would work too well at that size. :-)

June 4, 2018 3:27 AM

Congratulations again!

Michaelangelo's Delphic sibyl is also what immediately springs to mind, but agreed that this is more of a full backpiece type commitment than a fair counterpart to a typographical symbol. The scroll is a particularly standing-out part of that painting for me though, so that might be my compromise if the tattoo needed to be smaller and simpler.

I love your reasons for picking the i-y spelling, given that both are in equal use! What a fun pattern... though if you ever have a third daughter, I'm not sure I know of any Isolde variants that follow the I-y pattern! 

June 5, 2018 10:30 AM

Isyllt? I feel that someone must have spelt it that way, although looking on Behind the Name I just see Esyllt. Truthfully though, if we had a third girl I think we might just quietly forget we'd established that pattern. Or make some link with her father's name or Ivy's Catalan name. Or just let her nurse that grudge. :-D