Echetus was a king of Epirus proverbial for his cruelty. His name does not reveal this, however, since it seems to mean 'possessor', from echo, 'to have', 'to know'. However, perhaps it implies 'possessing cruelty'. (Echo is a very versatile verb with several different meanings and shades of meanings.)


Echidna was a monster, the offspring of Chrysaor and Oceanus' daughter Callirrhoë. (Other accounts give her parents as Tartarus and Gaia, however, or Ceto and Phorcys.) She was part beautiful woman, part snake, and bore Chimaera, Hydra and Cerberus (a fearsome threesome!) to Typhon. She also bore the Sphinx by her brother Orthus. Her name simply means 'viper', 'adder' (echidna).

By something of a semantic twist, the modern English word 'echidna' is used for the creature known as the spiny ant-eater, otherwise, as Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary describes it, 'a genus of Australian toothless, spiny, egg-laying, burrowing monotremes'. This sounds even more horrific than the original mythological monster.


Echion was the name of one of the Sown Men who married Agave and became the father of Pentheus. It was also the name of one of the Argonauts, a son of Hermes and Antianira. As with Echidna, the basic meaning is 'viper'.

The direct link with the Sown Man is not clear here, but for the Argonaut the name may refer to the heraldic white ribbons on Hermes' staff which were later mistaken for snakes as he was the herald to Hades. However, the first Echion mentioned here was, like all the Sown Men, planted in the ground (as a dragon's tooth) by Cadmus, and Cadmus was eventually turned into a snake by Ares, so perhaps there is after all a sinuous


Echo was the nymph on Mount Helicon sentenced (forgive the word-play) by Hera to speak only when she was spoken to, and even then merely to repeat the final syllables uttered by another. She loved Narcissus, who spurned her - or according to another story was loved in vain by Pan.

All in all, a frustrating life. Her name, of course, means what it says, although originally the Greek word (echo) meant 'sound', 'noise'. Let us perhaps compromise, and call her 'The Resounder'.


Eëtion was the father of Andromache. He and seven of his sons were killed by Achilles. His name seems to be based on êtes, 'kinsman'. This may perhaps refer either to his sons or to the citizens of Cilicium whose king he was.


Egeria was a rather obscure Roman water nymph who was the 'patroness' of Diana's grove at Aricia. Her name means 'black poplar' (aigeiros), and doubtless these were the predominant trees in the grove. Persephone also had a grove of black poplars, trees associated with death.

However, since she was a Roman goddess (or nymph) perhaps we should be looking for a Latin source for her name, and we could consider egero, 'to carry away' - perhaps as a kind of optimistic opposite of infero, 'to bring in' (suggesting something lower or inferior or even infernal).


Eidomene (or Idomene) was the wife of Amythaon and the mother of Bias and Melampus. Melampus was a famous seer, and thus Eidomene's name is appropriate for his mother, deriving from eido, 'to see', and menos, 'force', 'spirit', 'wish'.


Eidothea (or Idothea, or Ido) was the daughter of Proteus, the 'Old Man of the Sea'. Her name means 'divine form', from eidos, 'that which is seen', 'form' and thea, 'goddess'. This could mean either that she herself had a 'divine form', that is, a heavenly appearance, or that she saw things with the eyes of a goddess.


Eidyia (or Eidia, or Idyia) was an Oceanid, the wife of Aeëtes and the mother of Medea. Her name means 'the knowing one', from eido, 'to know', eidyia, 'knowing'. This is a very fitting name for the mother of cunning Medea.


Eileithyia (or Ilithyia) was the Greek goddess of childbirth whose Roman equivalent was Lucina (later Diana). As befits her speciality, her name means 'she who comes (to help)', from elelytha, 'she has come', since she came to the aid of women in labour.

However, the 'light' meanings of her Roman names also suggests a possible derivation from hele, 'sunlight' and thyo, 'to move rapidly'. In the Knossos Linear Β tablets her name appears as Eleuthia, which in turn suggests eleutheria, 'freedom', 'liberty'.