What’s in a name: Irene, Greek goddess of…you’re kidding!

Well, here’s an irony for you. Irene, the hurricane which is currently pounding the east coast with wind, rain, storm surge, tornadoes, etc is named after the Greek goddess of peace, Εἰρήνη (Eirene, pronounced eye-RAY-nay). The Romans called her by the more familiar name of Pax.

Eirene/Irene was one of the three horai, goddesses of the seasons, mentioned all the way back in Hesiod’s Theogony, c. 700 BCE: Eunomia (law & order), Dike (justice), and Eirene (peace). Originally, they were agricultural, seasonal goddesses who each presided over a time of year. I’m not quite sure when Eunomia and Dike were supposed to reign supreme, but Eirene was clearly a springtime-goddess, often described as wreathed with flowers or described as “blooming.”

The goddess Eirene (Irene)

Greek Goddess Eirene, Photo by Bibi Saint-Paul, Wikimedia Commons

At right, a peaceful portrait of the goddess, a Roman copy of a Greek bronze.

Hurricane names are chosen from a list each year, with the list rotating every few years. Names of hurricanes that caused significant damage are retired. In recent years, the National Weather Service has tried to alternate male and female names so that it’s not just women getting blamed for all the damage. So Floyd, Charlie, Andrew,  and the harmless-sounding “Bob” have joined Camille, Opal, and Katrina.

Here’s the current list of hurricane names for all parts of the world.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr

Leave a Reply

Using Gravatars in the comments - get your own and be recognized!

XHTML: These are some of the tags you can use: <a href=""> <b> <blockquote> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>