Saturday, January 12, 2013


Italian actress Lavinia Longhi, who looks just like my mom

Lavinia (lah-VIN-ee-ah) is a Latin name possibly meaning "purity," but the name is so old that no specific meaning can be given. It could simply mean "woman from Lavinium," which was an ancient town in Rome/more ancient than Rome/Etruscan. Lavinia was known as the "Mother of Rome." In Virgil's Aeneid, Lavinia was betrothed to a man named Turnus, King of the Rutuli, but when the hero Aeneas came to town her father, King of the Latins, changed his mind and wanted Lavinia to marry Aeneas. The two men then fought for her hand, but Aeneas won. Aeneas then built the town of Lavinium for her. Shakespeare had Lavinia as a character in Titus Andronicus, but her story is an unfortunate one not worthy of repeating and not true to Virgil's Lavinia. Ursula le Guin later wrote more in depth about their relationship in her 2008 novel Lavinia. And she's been a character in many more stories, including The Hunger Games. In all likelihood, Lavinia was probably created to explain how the town of Lavinium came to be.

Aristocrats used this name in medieval times, then it boomed in the 18th century, which is now why Lavinia is considered very vintage. Back then it could be found in various forms, from Louvenia to Lovina. Vinnie could be one nickname, but Lavie gives it more of a European flair. Lavinia probably ranked well before 1880 when records started being kept as we know them today, but she was officially on the charts between 1880 (starting at #360 and the highest ranking she had) and 1929 (never to be seen again). In 2011 the name Lavinia was given to 39 baby girls, not including various other spellings. This mythological Victorian name is ready for a comeback! (Think: Olivia, less popular.)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Your mum is really pretty if she looks like that!

    I am actually seeing Lavinia about quite a bit, but always in variant forms like Livinia and Lavenia. The first one would give Liv as a nickname, and seems to fit in better as an Olivia replacement.

    There's a popular actress in Australia called Livinia Nixon, which probably explains its appeal here.

  3. Well, she used to, from about 18 to 22. Seriously could have been a supermodel (or actress haha). I think I might go scan a picture of her and add it to this post sometime soon.