In Persephone, and certain parts of Daughter of Earth and Sky, Persephone goes by her middle name, Kora instead of Persephone. This is actually a nod to the original myth. Before Persephone’s abduction to the Underworld, she was only referred to in mythology as Kore or Kora, which translates to girl or maiden.
In other words, in the myth she didn’t get a name until she became someone important.
Names mattered a lot in Greek Mythology. The gods had entirely different names or titles for different roles they played. So it only made sense to make sure that names mattered a lot in my series.Every book title is one of Persephone’s titles, and there’s a lot of character development that goes into Persephone choosing to abandon her more “normal” sounding nickname, and embracing the name Persephone. At first she lets people call her Persephone in the Underworld because she figures she won’t be there long enough, and the people there don’t matter to her enough, to bother correcting them. But over time, the people there and her time there come to matter so much, than in book two when she’s returned to the living realm, it feels strange when people call her Kora. By book three, when she’s completely given up clinging to both her idealized version of her human and the parts of her divine life she likes, and embraced her actual life, the name Kora is never uttered again because she became Persephone.
Using different names for different roles, particularly related to age, isn’t unique to Greek culture. Childhood nicknames are common. When I was really little, my nickname was Katie, and it’s telling who still calls me that. Older family members. Because to them, that’s who I’ll always be. When I hit my teenage years, I decided to go by Kat, which I loved. But as I grew up, introducing myself as Kat started feeling strange. So everyone in my adult life calls me Kaitlin except for a few friends from high school, because to them that’s who I’ll always be. I was a different person entirely in high school, and THAT was a different person from the little kid known as Katie.
Outside of age, the names I go by today show a lot about my relationship with the person using them. People who call me Ms. Bevis for instance don’t know me at all. But the person who calls me Mommy knows me on an entirely different level than all my friends that call me Kaitlin. And that’s a whole different relationship than the man who calls me hon. Names matter.
What names do YOU go by? What do they say about you? What do they say about the people using them?