Sunday, July 26, 2020


Wolf Names

Michael P. Speidel, Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior Styles from Trajan's Column to Icelandic Sagas (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 16, with note on p. 190:
Firsthand evidence of wolf sympathy among Germanic tribes of Trajan's time also comes from names. The earliest known Germanic wolf name, one Ulfenus, appears on a Trajanic inscription from Rimburg near Aachen, followed by one Ulfus, also from Roman Germany. Some have wondered about the widespread use in Lower Germany of the Latin name Ulpius, which to German ears sounded like "wolf." Ulpius is, of course, Trajan's name, and for that reason alone would have been widely used in Lower Germany. But Ulpius also meant "wolf" in older Latin, and the punning name Ulpius Lupio suggests that the original meaning of Trajan’s name was still understood. Beyond the Empire's borders, a second-century runic inscription from Himlingøje in Denmark names a Widuhu[n]daR (Woodhound—Wolf). Indo-European twin-root names such as this were aristocratic wish-names: parents hoped their sons would be "wolves." As with dragons, people feared wolves, yet stood in awe of them and wanted to be like them.30

30 Animal standards ("ferarum imagines"): Tacitus, Histories 4.22.2. Wulfenus: Nesselhauf, "Inschriften" 1937, nos. 245ff.; 251. Birkhan, "Germanen" 1970, 379. (W)ulfus: CIL III, 1839. See also the joint wolf- and bear-names discussed on p. 41. Ulpius: CIL XIII, 11810; Dessau, Inscriptiones 1892–1916, 7080 additions; Syme, Tacitus II 1958, 786; Wiegels, "Ulpius" 1999- Honored: Syme, Tacitus II 1958, 786. Meant wolf: Pokorny, Wörterbuch 1959, 1178f.; Cagnat, Inscriptiones 1911, vol. 3, no. 20 (Cios, Bithynia); an Ulpius Lupus, perhaps a Batavian, is found in Speidel, Denkmäler 1994, 35; also AE 1990, 516. A new Batavian Lupus of Trajan's time: Birley, Garrison 2002, 100. Woodhound: Müller, Personennamen 1970, 69; 212; Birkhan, "Germanen" 1970, 378f.; Düwel, Runenkunde 2001, 2; cf. Förstemann, Namenbuch 1900, 1509: Walthun. Indo-European names: Schmitt, "Altertumskunde" 2000, 400. Wolf: Müller, Personennamen 1970, 201 and 210f. Feared, etc.: Unruh, "Wargus" 1954, 9; Müller, Personennamen 1970, 191ff. Dragons: Müller, Personennamen 1970, 188ff. Be like them: e.g. Ingiald in Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla, Ynglinga saga 34.
My own last name contains a wolfish element.

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