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"Mavis" is a female given name derived from the Middle English name for the song thrush (mavys) via Old French mauvis and Middle Breton milhuyt, meaning "thrush. Turdus philomelos was 1st described by Christian Ludwig Brehm in 1831; Turdus is Latin for thrush, and Philomele was an Athenian princess. Her sister Procne was married to one of Ares' sons, king Tereus of Thrace, who escorted Philomele to Thrace in order to visit her sister. But Tereus raped her and cut out her tongue so she could never tell anyone, then gave her as a concubine to another Tharcian king, whose wife Lathusa sent to her friend Procne. Philomele wove a tapestry (or a robe) that told her story, and in revenge Procne killed her son, boiled him, and served him as a meal to her husband. Tereus pursued the sisters to Daulia in Phocis, but the gods saved them by transforming Procne into a swallow, Philomele into a nightingale (only male nightingales can sing), and Tereus into a hoopoe or hawk. The word "mavis" became nearly obsolete except in poetry (Robert Burns's 1794 poem "Ca' the Yowes" [Hark the mavis evening sang/Sounding Clouden's woods amang); Charles Jefferys' popular love song "Mary of Argyle" (ca. 1850) [I have heard the mavis singing its love-song to the morn], but "Marie Corelli" (Mary Mackay, the illegitimate daughter of Scottish poet/songwriter Charles Mackay) revived it as a name in her popular 1895 novel "The Sorrows of Satan" -- the character Mavis Clare, who was able to resist the Devil's temptations, sang "as sweetly as any thrush" thus making her name "rather odd but suitable."
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