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Subject: Re: VANESSA
Author: Cleveland Kent Evans   (Authenticated as clevelandkentevans)
Date: August 24, 2006 at 2:40:25 PM
Reply to: VANESSA by Andy ;—)
I think you have the name a little off. The butterfly genus wasn't named after Fabricius, it was named by Fabricius in 1807. I wrote an article on this issue titled How Vanessa Became a Butterfly: A Psychologist's Adventure in Entomological Etymology which appeared in 1993 in Names, the journal of the American Name Society.

The "Phanessa" idea is a corruption of a theory originally proposed by Flora Gaines Loughead, who wrote one of the first baby name books published in the USA, Dictionary of Given Names. Loughead actually said that Vanessa was from Phanes, the name of an obscure god (NOT a "goddess" called "Phanessa"). I think her theory is unlikely, because Fabricius, as an educated scientist of his generation, would have simply used Phanes as the name for the genus of butterflies if he wanted to name them after the god, instead of altering that name to Vanessa. It is much more likely that Fabricius named the genus after the character in Swift's poem, especially since this genus is most closely related to another genus called Nymphalidae, and the character Vanessa is called a "nymph" several times in Swift's poem.

This message was edited by the author on August 24, 2006 at 2:41:30 PM

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