I apologize for deviating from the program. Life has intruded this week, and I am bogged down today and with much, much less time to post than I had orignally expected. So, instead of leaving a blank Friday entry, I refer you instead to a couple of sites with interesting information on the names of characters in TILL WE HAVE FACES.
Ungit is Glome’s Babylonian-style fertility goddess, equivalent to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. She is a dreadful but holy black stone that is anointed with sacrificial blood. According to tradition, this stone once pushed its way up out of the earth; yet, according to Arnon the priest, Ungit “signifies the earth, which is the womb and mother of all living things.” Ungit is the great mother and the great devourer, and her cult is one of darkness.
Surprisingly, Ungit’s name is not related to stone or darkness; instead, it is derived from the Latin ungo or unguo, meaning to smear or anoint with any fatty substance. Ungo came to Latin from the Sanskrit word anjana, meaning ointment, and the word anj, meaning to rub or besmear. (The Irish word ongain and the new Irish word ungadh both mean ointment.) English words closely related to Ungit refer to oil. An unguent is an ointment; unguentous means smeared with oil; unctuous means oily; and unction is the act of anointing a person in a religious ceremony or healing ritual to indicate and perhaps bring about a divine spiritual anointing. (Two of the ancient uses of oil are for healing and for light.)
It is Queen Orual’s name, not Ungit’s, that refers to stone. (Orual was a human being, but she had a stony heart.) The Greek word oruksis means a digging (excavation, ditch, tunnel, or mine), and the word orusso means to dig up or dig through, especially in mines or quarries. Accordingly, Orual uses a pickaxe and descends into the psycho-spiritual underworld late in Till We Have Faces (part 2, chapter 2). She goes down, against her will, to find dark, hidden meanings and truths. One of Orual’s major accomplishments as queen of Glome was the success of her silver mines. In the world Lewis lived in, the world in which we read his books, Russia’s Ural Mountains are a natural boundary between Europe and Asia. They are rich with ore, and the mid to central section is called the Ore Urals. (There is a Ural language group or family [linguists disagree] named after the mountains.) Similarly, the western Bolivian state of Oruro is primarily known for its tin mining. I don’t think the connection of Orual’s name to mineral deposits and mining can be coincidental.
There’s also a forum discussion on names in TWHF over at INTO THE WARDROBE. Find it HERE.
The above sites should be informational and fun for you. Consider it a “pause and consider” until we take up again with the novel proper.
See you next week.