🔼The name Damaris: Summary
- Wife, Domesticated
- From the noun δαμαρ (damar), wife, from the verb δαμαζο (damazo), to overpower.
🔼The name Damaris in the Bible
Damaris is mentioned only once in the Bible. In Athens, Paul was confronted by some Stoics and Epicureans, and after his subsequent sermon on Mars Hill, few Athenians converted, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and "a woman named" Damaris (Acts 17:34). After that, Paul went to Corinth and Damaris is never heard from again.
🔼Etymology of the name Damaris
Damaris comes from the noun δαμαρ (damar) meaning wife, which in turn comes from the verb δαμαζο (damazo), to subdue, tame or domesticate:
The verb δαμαζω (damazo) means to tame or to synchronize (living) elements into a larger domestic whole, which is ultimately the basis of all speech, all culture and all complex society. Noun δαμαλις (damalis) describes a young cow that is old enough to understand yoke-training. The unused noun δαμαρ (damar) means wife. The unused noun δαμασις (damasis) means a taming or a synchronizing.
To readers of modern sophistication, the calling of a wife after a verb that means to domesticate may seem rather objectionable. The ancients, however, still had a fresh collective memory of life in the wilderness, exposed to weather and wild animals, and of course neighboring tribes who appropriated one's resourced by means of violence and terror. Or said less poetically: what modern campers may experience as freedom was utter bondage to very early humans (and all animals), and the long road to societal freedom — or more precise, freedom-by-law, or ελευθερια (eleutheria), which is the purpose of the gospel (Galatians 5:1) and ultimately the formative principle of the New Jerusalem, peopled by the Bride (i.e. wife) — began with domestication.
Another persistent misconception dictates that long ago, enlightened early humans began to catch and subdue animals like dogs, sheep and cows, to make them serve mankind and make them do things against their own nature and interests. The opposite is of course true: humans are weak and naked apes, who were once collectively rejected from the ape tribe. Dogs are likewise the rejected nerds of the wolf clan. Somehow these two groups of rejects found each other and began to domesticate each other. Later sheep and cows and such, likewise, more or less voluntarily showed up seeking protection from weather and predators. And without dogs, sheep and cows, there would have been no modern humanity (no wool, no weaving, no herds, no cities, no metals, very little language, no script) and humans would still be little more than failing apes. Modern humanity came about when apes and dogs and herd animals began to domesticate each other, and a wooly sheep is as human as the naked ape we see in the mirror.
So no, a wife was not considered a wild creature that was caught and forcibly subdued, but rather a wild creature that was courted and wooed and offered safety and abundance in service of a larger economy of collective benefit, until it willfully showed up and eagerly joined.
When failing apes tribed up and began to become humans, they also bred out their naturally excellent sense of smell. That means that the difference between a potential mate and a sibling became less pronounced and entire human tribes bred themselves out of existence due to incest (this happened well until the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs). The beginning of domestication is usually put at the teaming up of early humans and wild dogs, but the actual first step in domestication is rather the emergence of a cultural (rather than sensory) differentiation between mates and siblings. That means that the invention of the wife was the beginning of domestication — and see our article on the noun γαμος (gamos), marriage, for a more detailed look at the Bible's report on mankind's invention of the wife.
The name Damaris means Domesticated and marks the first step toward societal freedom.