Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Markus
Markus is the German and Scandinavian form of Marcus. Marcus is one of the oldest and most common Roman forenames still in existence. In fact, back during antiquity and the classical era, Marcus was one of only a dozen or so given names used for boys. For instance, Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) who lived in the first century B.C. was a notable name bearer. After Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C., Antony joined together with Octavian and Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate. This political alliance would later collapse when Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.). Shortly thereafter Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra committed suicide. In the 2nd century A.D. Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius, considered a philosopher-king and symbolizing much of what was good about Roman civilization, was the last of the “Five Good Emperors”. The exact origin of the name is not entirely certain but most etymologists agree it likely comes from one of two places. The first is Mars, the Roman god of war; the second is from the Latin adjective “mas” meaning “male, virile” (which is thematically the same thing as Mars). Despite the old Latin roots of Marcus and the many illustrious men of the Roman Republic and later Empire who bore this name, and despite Marcus’s connection to the Roman god of war; the main source of the name’s popularity among medieval European Christians is owed to Mark the Evangelist, author of the second gospel of the Old Testament. Written sometime in the middle of the first century A.D., Mark’s gospel deals with Christ as the Son of God and emphasizes how Jesus suffered for the sins of mankind. A native of Northern Africa himself, St. Mark is also credited with the establishment of Christianity in Egypt (the Muslims arrived later in the 7th century and today Islam dominates Egypt). The four gospel authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are among the most popular and enduring masculine names used by Christians since the Middle Ages. Other forms of Marcus/Mark in various languages are: Markos (Biblical Greek), Marc (Celtic), Marcel (French), Maleko (Hawaiian), Marco (Italian), Marcos (Spanish) and, of course, Markus among Germans and Scandinavians. Markus remains a heavily used name in Norway, Austria, Sweden and Germany.