Hunger Games Names Part 2: Gladiator Games Inspire Ancient Roman Names
Tick tock, it’s almost Hunger Games time! For those of you who can’t get enough of the series, or at least author Suzanne Collins’s thoughtful and layered approach to naming her characters, we have even more to say about these fictional gladiators of the post-apocalyptic future.
(By the way, did you know that Suzanne Collins was a writer for many children's TV shows, including Clarissa Explains It All? Read our tribute to another awesome fictional teen girl, Clarissa Darling, here.)
Last week, we profiled some of the key names in the story (Katniss, Peeta, Primrose, and Gale) and how they establish character identity and class differences among the Districts. Over at the Baby Name Wizard, Laura explained “speculative” (future) naming, and identified another Panem name trend: Members of the Capitol and richer districts (who train and prepare for the honor of battle) are named after famous members of the Roman Empire as a nod to the many similarities between the Hunger Games and the gladiator battles.
But who are these famous Romans? Let’s see how each Hunger Games character compares to their ancient namesake... (Alert: BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD!)
- Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland): President of Panem, ultimately the man responsible for the continued existence and promotion of the horrific Games and the atrocities inflicted on members of the Districts who speak or act against the government in any way.
Namesake: Caius Marcius Coriolanus, aka Coriolanus was the subject of William Shakespeare’s play, Coriolanus, and the 2011 movie of the same name. His legacy is questionable and not well documented, but the popular story is that he rose to power as a fierce general in the city's military, but angered the plebians who supported him when he ultimately aligned with the aristocrats during his climb up the Roman political ladder. Unable to win back his followers, he made a lot of enemies and was eventually banished from Rome. Spiteful and bitter, he sought revenge by declaring his allegiance to the very city he conquered in battle.
- Claudius Templesmith (Toby Jones): Legendary announcer of the Hunger Games.
Namesake: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka Claudius. Roman emperor from years 41 to 54, and the grandson of Octavia. Claudius was the first emperor to be born outside of Italy. As a child, he was ostracized by his family for his limp and slight deafness and discouraged from perusing a political career. His disabilities eventually worked to his advantage since he was seen as less of a threat by potential enemies.
- Octavia (Brooke Bundy): Member of Katniss’ prep team that works under Cinna and, like Cinna, gets very attached to Katniss.
Namesake: Octavia Thurina Minor, aka Octavia the Younger, was the sister of emperor Augustus, grandmother to Claudius, and the fourth wife of Marc Antony (he abandoned her for Cleopatra of Egypt). She was one of the most prominent women in Roman history and according to whoever wrote her Wikipedia article, “respected and admired by contemporaries for her loyalty, nobility and humanity, and for maintaining traditional Roman feminine virtues.”
- Flavius (Nelson Ascencio): Another member of Katniss’ prep team with Cinna and Octavia
Namesake: The entire Flavian Dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire from 69 to 96 AD and was responsible for constructing the Colosseum, where many gladitorial contests were held.
- Portia (Latarsha Rose): Peeta’s stylist who worked with Cinna to design District 12’s strategy and Katniss’ fire costume.
Namesake: Porcia the Elder was the sister of Cato the Younger and aunt of two cousins that would eventually marry: Cato’s daughter, also named Porcia, and Brutus.
- Brutus: A past Hunger Games victor from District 2; A career tribute with a violent and (wait for it...) brutal streak.
Namesake: Marcus Junius Brutus, aka Brutus, was also a killer. He was a leader in the assassination of Julius Caesar, who may have been his real father (His mother, Servilia Caepionis, was Caesar’s mistress).
- Cato (Alexander Ludwig): A career tribute from District 2, one of the most deadly among those in the arena with Katniss and Peeta.
Namesake: Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, aka Cato the Younger, was the grandson of Cato the Elder and an orator, famous for his moral integrity and stubbornness.. He had a long standing conflict with Julius Caesar and spoke against political corruption.
- Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley): The Head Gamemaker, who is responsible for designing and controlling everything that happens in the arena. Basically, he plays god. The fate of the tributes are in his hands.
Namesake: Lucius Annaeus Seneca, aka Seneca the Younger, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist who worked as an advisor to the emperor Nero. He was forced to commit suicide after allegedly partaking in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero.
- Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The interviewer whose televised chats with the tributes before the games introduce each competitor to the viewers and are crucial for dictating their individual public personas.
Namesake: Who else? The famous Julius Caesar, Roman general and writer who became a dictator when he helped the Roman Republic transform into the Roman Empire.
It seems that many of the ancient Romans share some names with their Hunger Games counterparts, but some of it could be pure chance. Still, they are interesting and creative choices, and we could totally see more parents turning to ancient Rome for inspiration. A huge portion of today's common names have Latin roots that are less commonly used and could serve as an interesting alternative. Want a name with history? Instead of Patrick, how about Patricius? Aemilia instead of Emily?
Do you think Collins chose them to reflect the characters' personalities? Do you have any favorite Latin names?