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According to my research, Eponine is the French form of the name of the wife of Julius Sabinus, the Roman emperor in Gaul in the first half of 70. Her story is related by the Greek philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea in his collection of love stories, the Eroticus.

"Her Gaulish name was Empona, which may be translated into Greek as 'Heroine'. "

The Italians refer to her as Epponina which translates into French as Eponine.

Victor Hugo, in naming one of his central heroines of Les Miserables after Saint Eponine was likely invoking this obscure love story from Plutarch about the wife who gives up everything and eventually sacrifices her own life out of love and devotion to her husband.

Here are my key references:
French First Name Site (Sainte Eponine)

History of Epponina wife of Julius Sabinus

History of Empona wife of Julius Sabinus
troydarling  1/9/2006
Could also be related to Epona, the name of the Celtic goddess of horses, which means "horse" from Gaulish "epos."
SeaHorse15  4/17/2006
Eponine is probably the most popular Les Misérables character (and my favourite). That's so interesting that there's a Saint Eponine.
eponine_pontmercy  6/26/2006
I've read that "Eponine" also means "love", which would explain the romance novel connotation in Victor Hugo's novel. (Eponine was my absolute favorite character.)
sariamew456  8/21/2006
This is one of my absolute favorite names. I think it sounds beautiful. :) This is also my favorite character from "Les Miserables".
― Anonymous User  10/21/2006
Pronounced Ep-O-Nee, Ep-O-Neen.
― Anonymous User  10/24/2006
Pronounced EP-oh-neen: stress on the first syllable, "EP-" as in Pepper, "-oh-" as in Oh, No! and "-neen" that rhymes with teen.
VictoriaCalledTori  4/22/2007
This name sounds beautiful and has a nice history around it. If I ever have a daughter I will name her this because Eponine is one of my all time favorite characters and a great role model for women and young girls. This would do as either a middle name or a first name.
LittleGavroche  3/30/2008
I simply ADORE this name! Eponine is so beautiful and feminine. It flows so nicely. Eponine also happens to be my favorite character from Les Miserables.
_clippit_  7/20/2008
French variant of Epona, the Greek goddess of horses.
― Anonymous User  9/11/2009
Such a cute name! I love to pronounce it. Plus, Eponine is my favourite character in Les Misérables. I would name my daughter like this :)
― Anonymous User  10/25/2011
I like the character, but giving this name to your daughter does not sound like a good idea when one considers the character's tragic story. Eponine's life begins reasonably comfortable, but by adolescence she and her family have lost their inn and are reduced to begging and a life of crime in the streets of Paris. In addition, Eponine is in love with a young nobleman, Marius Pontmercy, who hardly even acknowledges her and is in love with Cosette, whom Eponine and her family cruelly mistreated as a girl and has since blossomed into a beautiful, well-bred young woman. Eponine is tattered from life on the street and Marius only gives her serious notice when she ends up sacrificing her life for him.
gaelruadh19  7/27/2012
This name is pretty, especially while I'm reading or watching _Les _Miserables, but I can't really consider it a favorite until I find better nicknames for it than Eppie, Ponine, and Nina. "Heroine" is an amazing meaning, though.
Sabella Authoress  10/23/2012
It's spelled Éponine, at least in French and in Les Misérables. Spell it right, don't Anglicize the É into E.
Eievie  11/10/2013
Such a beautiful name.
twlightblack11  4/11/2015
Other meanings of the name Éponine is:
-unconditional/unrequited love
-bringer of light and love
love_daydreamin  6/13/2015
Everyone pronounces it ep-OH-neen, but in my head I always read it the French way, AY-poh-NIN. I can't think of another -ine French name that's not pronounced that way. Most of these are, anyway, and the ones that aren't definitely aren't pronounced -neen! I guess it's because so many anglophones are fans of Les Mis and the play is most often performed in English, it's losing its French-ness. Fantine is suffering the same fate - "fawn-TEEN" instead of "fawn-tsin".*ine.
Rainears  11/8/2015

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