Greek Personal Names in Merovingian and Carolingian Gaul: A Brief Survey
Ever since ancient times, even before the Roman conquest, there were people and groups in Gaul speaking Greek, so that in the towns of Roman Gaul the Greek communities later became motive factors of Christianisation. It comes as no surprise that many names with a Greek etymology are to be found in Gaul during the Merovingian and Carolingian eras: Eulalius, Euphronius, Eusebius and Eustasius are just a few examples among many. This paper intends to investigate whether it is possible to determine places in which the tradition of Greek personal names, for example as a result of veneration of saints, was prevalent. Knowledge of Greek having declined almost to extinction in Gaul by the end of the late Roman period, linguistic adaptations of names into the nascent Romance language become apparent, such as Evanzelia, Elarius, Nicesius, and Estefanus. In view of the tendency for proper names of Romance or Romanic origin, including those with a Greek etymology, to be replaced by Germanic names as the Franks increased their dominance from north to south, these declined, while at the same time we see a neologistic creativity in dealing with the various traditions of naming manifested in hybrid names. Examples of these hybrid names with originally Greek elements are: Christehildis and Christengaudus. However, such name formations remained the exception, while on the other hand a number of names of Greek origin could retain and maintain their position within the treasury of French personal names due to their assimilation and their correspondence with saints’ names.