Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Galatea


JeanLeonGeromePygmalionandGalatea
 
Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean Leon Gerome

In tribute to the pure white color of snow, Galatea (gah-lah-TEE-uh) will be the first post of 2014. Meaning "milky white (she who is milk-white)" in Greek, this name is famous for being used in mythology as the statue of ivory Pygmalion carved that came to life. Yet the statue Pygmalion loved did not have a name until well after the story came to life. Galatea was supposedly first recognized as her name when used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Pygmalion from 1762, and he could have been inspired by another mythological Galatea found in the story of Acis and Galatea, in which she was a sea-nymph, or from Honore d'Urfe's L'Astree. It can later be found in "Galatea of the Spheres," a painting by Salvador Dali, depicting Gala Dali, his wife. Be sure to check out the painting by Gustave Moreau entitled "Galatea."

Galatea is also a moon of Neptune, Mount Galatea is in the Canadian Rockies, and Galathea National Park is in India. You can find a few literary Galatea's in novels such as Ian Flemming's Moonraker, Jack Kerouac's On The Road, and Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. And she has also been the title of several novels, by such authors Phillip Pullman, Miguel de Cervantes, James M. Cain, and Richard Powers. Adding to her credentials, John Lyly wrote a 16th century play titled Gallathea, Victor Masse wrote the opera GalathéeDie schöne Galathée (The Beautiful Galatea) is an operetta by Franz von Suppe, there is an 1883 musical comedy titled Galatea, or Pygmalion Reversed, and the 2009 play Galatea by Lawrence Aronovitch. In film, there is a Galatea in Bicentennial Man, and a film called Galatea by Georges Denonla from 1911.

She certainly has a lot of historical richness, yet the name is very rarely used. In the U.S. it was used about 11 times in the past decade, or 16 if you add in the spelling Galatia. There are probably no more than a hundred living if you add in the spellings Galathea and Gallathea.

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