Long ago in a college course on classical mythology, the professor--Dr. Leichty (but that may be misspelled)--discussed the origins of the name Penelope. According to him, it derived from an earlier story about the birth of the woman who would later be the wife of Odysseus. Briefly, the story was that her father considered her to be an unwelcome newborn and decided, according to the custom of that ancient place, to "dispose" of the baby by flinging her far out off the island's high cliffs to fall to the rocks edging the sea far below. To his surprise, a flock of "small purple pin-striped ducks," of a breed that nests in the seaside cliffs, suddenly flew up in a tight formation, caught the falling child on their backs, and bore her back to the cliff top, depositing her at the feet of her astonished father. Being no fool, he decided that this child must be a favorite of the gods and should be brought up accordingly. She was given the name Penelope because, I was told, that was the archaic Greek name for the breed of little ducks that had rescued her.