The birth of a child produces innumerable joys and anxieties, and can transform one's perception of the world. Becoming a parent of twins, however, inspires a whole raft of further considerations, least of all being the problem of naming. It is rare that a person has the need or occassion to name something that is truly new to the world and consequently when faced with the naming process it can be a challenge that leaves one feeling lost. Does the name diminish the pristine state of the neonate, does it bestow strength or empower. Fortunately, we generally choose a name from the ready catalogue of forerunners, an option which makes the whole process easier and which allows you to select a name with a historical meaning. Precedence enables us to confer a child with a name that helps to place them both socially and culturally.
What then is the precedence for twins? Who were the twins of mythology and what do their names infer.
Beginning in cradle of Africa we can gain a degree of knowledge about the life of twins by learning more about the seven sets of twins born of Liza and Mawu, themselves twins of Nana Buluku the creator of the world. Then in Greek mythology we find Castor and Pollux, one mortal and the other godly, hero twins who sailed with Jason on the Argonaut. Also in Greek mythology there is Artemis and Apollo, godly twins of Zeus and Leto, both skilled with the bow and associated with the Sun and the Moon. And of course, moving into Roman mythology we have Romulus and Remus, warring brothers, sons of Mars cast afloat the river Tiber in a wicker basket and suckled by a she-wolf in infancy. The caananite minor deities, Shachar "Dawn" and Shalim "Dusk" divide the day between them and continue the tradition of seeing twins as two halves of creation. And finally, from Gilgamesh, we have the Sumerian twins, Utu and Innana, gods of Justice, Love and war.
Twins seem to be at the heart of every dualistic cosmology and are essential components in creation myths from all around the globe. They represent no less than the division of the massa confusa, the undifferentiated whole from which, by a process of division and naming, the human mind has come to attain knowledge. Parenting twins is truly demanding but by looking back at the twins of mythology we can hope to gain a better understanding of their needs and of our own hopes and desires.