I’m curious as to why, in some myths, the actors have names – proper first names – for much of their gear. Just to infuse them with more meaning and a sense of history I imagine.
In their early account of the battle of Badon hill, where Arthur defeated the Saxons, both early poets (Wace and Layamon, ~1155) point out that our hero had names for more than just his sword:
…,the king wore a sword forged in Avalon, almost a faerie place – forged ‘with magic craft’, says Layamon, who calls it Caliburen, but Wace names it Excalibur. Layamon adds that his helmet was called Goswhit, and his shield Pridwen, on which was engraved in tracings of reddish gold, the image of the blessed and glorious Mary. Both poets add that the name of his spear was Ron.
-Charles Williams, The Figure of Arthur, p.41
We all know about Excalibur, but what about Ron, man?!
Beowulf also had a magic sword, named Hrunting. In this same vein, Tolkien gave names to many of the important weapons in Middle Earth, including Sting (Bilbo/Frodo), Glamdring (Gandalf), Narsil (Isuldur), Anduril (Aragorn), Herudrim (Theodin), and so forth. Apparently though, their helmets and shields are not important enough to mention. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Do we still do this today? All the time I think. Musicians often name their instruments. Eric Clapton had Blackie. Pierre Bensusan has “The Old Lady”. In college, my friend’s french horn was named Leopold. The 2-ton concert tuba (available for check-out) was called Buba.
My car is know as the “Stinky Banana Car”, or SBC. Long story.
Computers are so cold and lifeless, so we typically give them names to infuse a little character into them. I’ve worked on servers called Coyotee, Hornet, Snake, Deathstar (how many servers out there have Star Wars names? Thousands?), Thalia, RedTape, BlackWidow, Redwood, Snarky, etc. Sometimes they told a story (RedTape audited accounts). Some were just fun. Now all our servers where I work have names like web-1, web-2, email-1, etc. Boring…
IT Director: Why is the new database server named “Ron”?
Developer: From King Arthur’s spear you uncultured swine!