Origin of the name VIOLA.
Etymology of the
Meaning of the baby name VIOLA.
From the Latin vocabulary word viola, meaning
"violet." Usage: America, England, Italy.
The name of
the flower is universal; it is viola in Latin, vas in
Sanscrit; and in Greek anciently Γιον, but afterwards
whence later Greeks supposed it to have been named from having formed a
garland round the head of Ion, the father of the Ionians.
... Whether Viola has ever been a real Italian name I cannot
learn, or whether it is only part of the stage property endeared to us
by Shakespeare... (History of Christian Names, Yonge, 1884)
Night, a drama by Shakespeare. The story came originally from a
novelletti by Bandello (who died 1555), reproduced by Belleforest in his
Histoires Tragiques, from which Shakespeare obtained his
story. The tale is this: Viola and Sebastien were
twins, and exactly alike. When grown up, they were ship-wrecked
off the coast of Illyria, and both were saved. Viola, being
separated from her brother, in order to obtain a livelihood, dressed
like her brother and took the situation of page under the duke Orsino.
The duke, at the time, happened to be in love with Olivia, and as the
lady looked coldly on his suit, he sent Viola to advance it, but the
wilful Olivia, instead of melting towards the duke, fell in love with
his beautiful page. One day, Sebastien, the twin-brother of Viola,
being attacked in a street brawl before Olivia's house, the lady,
thinking him to be the page, invited him in, and they soon grew to such
familiar terms that they agreed to become man and wife. About the
same time, the duke discovered his page to be a most beautiful woman,
and, as he could not marry his first love, he made Viola his wife and
the duchess of Illyria. (Reader's Handbook of Famous Names in
Fiction, etc., Brewer, v.2, 1899)