British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson have welcomed a new baby daughter into the world and given her a name inspired by Greece.
The newborn baby girl has been named Romi Iris Charlotte Johnson. Romi is after Johnson’s wife’s aunt, Rosemary, while Iris is a reference to the Greek Iris, who in Greek mythology embodied the rainbow.
This is the couple’s second child together. They had a son name Wilfred in April 2020. Johnson has four other children from his previous marriage to lawyer Marina Wheeler.
Although this heartfelt homage to Greek mythology may come as a surprise to some, the 57-year-old PM has deep roots in Hellenic culture.
British PM Boris Johnson studied Classics at Oxford
The British Prime Minister studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1986, he ran for president of the Oxford University Union, winning the position with the support of his wealthy, privileged colleagues.
It was that year when he invited Greece’s Minister of Culture at the time, Melina Merkouri, who was in the midst of her fight to get the Parthenon sculptures back from the British Museum, to meet with him. The Greek minister visited Oxford University to discuss the need for the priceless marbles to return to Greece and reunite with the rest of the sculptures, and the Parthenon itself.
Despite Merkouri’s heartfelt pleas, Johnson remained unconvinced. In the ensuing decades, and especially during his London mayoralty, which lasted from 2008 to 2016, the new prime minister remained opposed to the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.
Yet judging from all appearances, he remains a devoted philhellene. In a feature published in Britain’s Daily Mail in 2011, Johnson lauded ten ancient Greeks who helped to form western civilization, specifically Homer, Hesiod, Archilochus, Sappho, Simonides, Pindar, Sophocles, Pericles, Plato and Aristotle.
In an academic event that took place at Central Hall in Westminster on November 19, 2015, comparing the contributions of Greece and Rome to human civilization, Johnson argued that the Greeks had been first in everything.
The Greeks gave us poetry, history, art and philosophy, the new British prime minister argued. They also gave us biography, historiography, tragedy and comedy. They gave us rational scientific inquiry and mathematics. They gave us the Olympic Games.
Praising Homer, Johnson said that “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are the earliest surviving epic poems, the foundations on which all European literature was later built. The Greek myths such as the tales of Oedipus, Heracles and Persephone contain the archetypal plot elements of hubris and nemesis on which modern literature and film are based today.
In his great speech given at the 2015 symposium, Johnson spoke about the Parthenon Marbles with awe, saying, “When you go through the mind-blowing suite of galleries in the British Museum, you can see humanity working its way up.”
Johnson described the iconic Parthenon marbles as “The first attempt at systematic anatomical realism… the spiritual change.”