Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Leandro
Leandro is the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish form of Leander which is the Latinized version of the Greek Leandros (Λεανδρος) from the elements “leon” (lion) and “andros” (of men). Leander is a character in Greek mythology, specifically from the story of Hero and Leander, which has inspired scores of artists to immortalize in many classical works. In a nutshell, the Greek legend of Hero and Leander goes something like this: Hero was a beautiful priestess of Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) who dwelled in Sestos. Sestos was an ancient Greek town along the narrow water straight called Hellespont which connected the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea by way of the Sea of Marmara (the straight is now known as the Dardanelles located in present day Turkey; the ruins of Sestos remain on the Gallipoli Peninsula). At the time of the mythical story, however, in the centuries B.C., the region belonged to Greece and so sat Sestos along the Hellespont. Directly on the other side of the straight was another town called Abydos where a young man by the name of Leander lived. Leander fell in love with the fair Hero and so swam the roughly two mile distance across the Hellespont every night to be with his sweetheart; and every night Hero would shine a light from her tower to help guide his way. One particularly stormy night, however, the wind extinguished Hero’s light and Leander lost his way, finally drowning in the turbulent waves. His body washed ashore the next morning and, upon seeing the corpse of her lover, the grief-stricken Hero jumped from the tower, throwing herself into the sea to be with her beloved for eternity. Early Roman poets Virgil and Ovid pay tribute to the story of Hero and Leander in their poetry. English dramatists Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were also inspired by the Greek legend as were poets John Keats and Lord Byron. In fact, Lord Byron actually swam the Hellespont in the early 19th century, recreating Leander’s exact passageway to his lover. How romantic! Leander was indeed a “lion of men” as evidenced by the strength required of one to swim such a distance night after night. Sadly, Leander has lost his way on the naming charts in modern times, but Leandro is a moderately popular name in Chili and France.