Aries is the name of a constellation as well as being the first sign of the zodiac. In Greek mythology it represented the golden ram who was sent by the cloud nymph Nephele to rescue her children, Phrixus and Helle, from being sacrificed due to the machinations of their evil stepmother, Ino. As the ram was flying over a narrow strait, Helle fell and drowned in the water (later called Hellespont after her) but her brother Phrixus made it all the way to Colchis, where he was taken in by King Aeetes and married his daughter Chalciope (the sister of Medea). To show his gratitude, Phrixus sacrificed the golden ram and gave its golden fleece to Aeetes, which would later feature in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. The name means “ram” in Latin, in reference to the animal, but it also means “battering ram” which comes from Latin arietare meaning “ram; battering ram” derived from a Proto-Indo-European root word meaning “goat, sheep” or “spring, jump”.
Aries is also a surname that derives from a different etymology. It could be a variant of Airey, a place name derived from Old Norse eyrara meaning “gravel-bank stream”, referring to someone who lived by a gravel bank. It may also have been a variant spelling of Arras, denoting someone who came from the city of Arras in France.
Origin: Proto-Indo-European, Old Norse