Monica Foggin wrote:
Did you know that Archelaus was the Latin form of
lot of trouble finding the bpt of my Hercules Gidley in
Buckfastleigh in the early 1600's, until I realised what
alternate name was, and there he was! There were a lot of
baptised Hercules in Devon at one time. Does anyone know
so popular, considering that it wasn't a saint's name but
I don't know where Monica got this, but she has been well
and truly had.
For a start, Hercules is a Latin name and it was the
translation of the Greek name Herakles, who was the mythical
hero who completed the Twelve Labours and who may have been
based on a real prince of Argos.
Secondly, Archelaus is the spelling in Latin of the
classical Greek word "archelaos": This is an adjective
which basically meant a chief or ruler of the people, and
then it was adopted as a personal name.
I've on one occasion only come across the name Archelaus in
the Devon birth records. It was not a "Christian" name nor
one of the traditional saints' names. To illustrate this,
there were five famous men in classical antiquity with the
name, and these were:
1. A philosopher of Miletus [fl. 5th century BC], who was
the pupil of Anaxagoras and the teacher of Socrates who was
2. A king of Macedonia [413-399 BC], who was the son of
Perdiccas and the friend of the playwright Euripides.
3. A king of Cappadocia [36 BC to 19 AD], in the time of
the Emperor Tiberius, who was also an author.
4. The Greek general [fl 100 BC] who fought for the
Persian king Mithridates VI against the Roman armies of
5. Or his son, who was the rival of king Ptolemy Auletes
of Egypt [c. 56 BC] .
In addition, there was Herod Archelaus (already mentioned in
another posting), who was the son and principal heir of
Herod I the Great. He was born in Judaea in 22 BC and died
in about 18 AD in Gaul. He was ruler or ethnarch of Judaea,
Samaria and Idumaea when according to Matthew (Chapter 2.,
22) Jesus' family decided to settle outside his domaine for
fear of his tyranny. He was deposed by the Emperor August
in 6 AD by popular demand.
This Herod, biblical or not, would hardly be likely to be
taken as a model for a baptismal name, and so, of the five
classical men mentioned above, I believe that the most
likely candidate to be commemorated was the philosopher who
taught Socrates, who met his death by hemlock for his
philosophical principles in a saintly fashion.